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Oviatt v. University of Michigan Regents

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

July 12, 2018

Jill S. Oviatt, Plaintiff,
v.
University of Michigan Regents, et al., Defendants.

          R. STEVEN WHALEN U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         ORDER DISMISSING OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE CLAIM, DENYING PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT, DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS FOR SANCTIONS [15, 16], AND DIRECTING PLAINTIFF TO SHOW CAUSE WHY CASE SHOULD NOT BE DISMISSED FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM

          Arthur J. Tarnow Senior United States District Judge

         Senior U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen

         Pro se Plaintiff Jill S. Oviatt filed a Complaint [Dkt. #1] on June 7, 2018 against the University of Michigan (“U of M”) Regents, the former president of U of M Lee C. Bollinger, [1] and Associate General Counsel with the U of M Office of the Vice President and General Counsel Richard Brandon. That same day, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Service [6] in which she claimed to have served Defendants.[2] One week later, Plaintiff filed a document labeled “Certified Mail return cards” [7].

         Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint [8] on June 18, 2018, as well as two Notices of Service [9, 10], in which she again claimed to have served Defendants. As of the date of this Order, Defendant Bollinger is the only party who has not appeared in this action.

         On July 3, 2018, Plaintiff filed an Order for Entry of Default [13]. That same day, Defendants Richard Brandon and U of M, through counsel, filed an Objection to Plaintiff's Request for Entry of Default [12].

         On July 10, 2018, Plaintiff filed two Motions for Sanctions [15, 16], as well as a document titled “Amnesty Affidavit” [17].

         Plaintiff's filings are hard to decipher. It appears that Plaintiff asserts a claim for hostile work environment based on sexual harassment. She also brings claims for disparate treatment and obstruction of justice. (Am. Compl. at 2, 5-7).

         “[T]he allegations of a complaint drafted by a pro se litigant are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers in the sense that a pro se complaint will be liberally construed in determining whether it fails to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.” Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991). That said, “pro se status does not exempt the plaintiff from the requirement that he comply with relevant rules of procedural and substantive law.” Weron v. Cherry, 2008 WL 4614335, at *2 (E.D. Tenn. Oct. 14, 2008). The Court “need not accept as true legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences.” Montgomery v. Huntington Bank, 346 F.3d 693, 698 (6th Cir. 2003) (quoting Morgan v. Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 12 (6th Cir.1987)). In other words, “the lenient treatment generally accorded to pro se litigants has limits, ” and they are “not automatically entitled to take every case to trial.” Pilgrim v. Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416 (6th Cir. 1996).

         For the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's obstruction of justice claim. To the extent Plaintiff requests entry of default, that request is DENIED. Plaintiff's Motions for Sanctions [15, 16] are DENIED. Plaintiff is also directed to SHOW CAUSE why the case should not be dismissed against Defendants for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         I. Sexual harassment/hostile work environment claim

         Plaintiff seems to allege that Brandon's conduct created a hostile work environment, and that the University knew of and condoned such conduct. It is unclear whether Plaintiff brings this claim under Michigan's Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act (“ELCRA”) or Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. Accordingly, the Court will examine Plaintiff's claims under both statutes.

         To establish a prima facie case of hostile work environment sexual harassment under ...


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