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Gong v. The University of Michigan

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

July 17, 2018

Yusong Gong, Plaintiff,
v.
The University of Michigan, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO RECLASSIFY, DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND COMPLAINT, AND DENYING AS MOOT PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME TO FILE WITNESS LIST IN ORDER TO NAME EXPERTS

          Sean F. Cox United States District Judge.

         This pro se action against the University of Michigan is currently before the Court on three motions filed by Plaintiff. The Court concludes that oral argument is not necessary as to any of these motions and shall rule based upon the written submissions. For the reasons set forth below: 1) Plaintiff's motion to “re-classify the nature of the action” shall be denied as moot because the Nature of Suit Codes used on the civil cover sheet are for statistical purposes and do not impact a plaintiff's claims; 2) Plaintiff's motion to amend in order to add a First Amendment retaliation claim against the University shall be denied as futile because the University has sovereign immunity as to that claim; and 3) Plaintiff's motion for an extension of time to name an expert witness shall be denied as moot, given that Plaintiff has since filed an amended witness list naming expert witnesses.

         BACKGROUND

         Acting pro se, Plaintiff Yusong Gong (“Gong”) filed this action against Defendant University of Michigan and three of its employees, Richard Simon, Michelle Henderson, and Timothy Lynch. Gong's original complaint included the following claims: “Count 1 - Retaliation - Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, ” “Count II - Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, ” and “Count III - Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (Pattern or Practice Claim).”

         In an Opinion & Order issued on February 13, 2018, this Court granted in part and denied in part a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants. (D.E. No. 41). This Court granted the motion to the extent that it: 1) ruled any ADA claims for monetary damages in this action are barred by Eleventh Amendment immunity; 2) dismissed with prejudice Gong's claims against Simon, Henderson, and Lynch because an individual employee/supervisor, who does not otherwise qualify as an “employer” under the statute, may not be personally liable under Title VII or the ADA. Accordingly, the only Defendant remaining in this action is the University and the only claims against it are: 1) an ADA claim, but only to the extent that Plaintiff seeks reinstatement of her employment at the University; and 2) a retaliation claim under Title VII.

         On March 15, 2018, the Court issued the Scheduling Order in this matter that provides that discovery is to be completed by July 20, 2018, and motions shall be filed by August 20, 2018.

         Gong has filed several pro se motions that are now pending before the Court. First, Gong has filed a “Motion to Seek Re-Classification for the Nature of Suit.” (D.E. No. 36). The University of Michigan filed a response to that motion stating that it “takes no position on this motion.” (D.E. No. 54). Second, on May 17, 2018, Gong filed a motion seeking leave to amend her complaint, which she filed twice on that same day. (D.E. Nos. 48 & 49). Third, Gong has filed a motion seeking an extension of time to identify her expert witnesses. (D.E No. 51). The University takes no position as to the first motion, but opposes the other motions.

         On June 29, 2018, Gong filed a 22-page reply brief, with additional attachments totaling 100 pages. Even pro se Plaintiffs, however, are required to follow the rules, including page limitations. In an order issued on July 2, 2018, this Court therefore struck that oversize brief and ordered that Gong could file a reply brief that comports with the applicable page limitations by July 13, 2018. Gong has since filed a seven-page rely brief.

         On July 6, 2018, Gong filed a second witness list. In it, she lists two “scientific expert” witnesses and four “Medical expert” witnesses.

         ANALYSIS

         I. Gong's Motion To Reclassify Case Shall Be Denied As Moot Because The Nature Of Suit Code Used In Setting Up The Docket For This Case Has No. Impact On Her Claims, As It Is Used For Statistical Purposes.

         First, Gong has filed a “Motion to Seek Re-Classification for the Nature of Suit” (D.E. No. 36), wherein she states that she questioned someone at the Clerk's office why this action is classified as “other statutory actions” and states that she was told “they classified her case as ‘Other Statutory Actions' as general because of missing form this case.” (Id. at 2). Gong states that she “does not know anything about ‘Other Statutory Actions'” and that she “strongly believes that she has filed a civil right suit.” (Id.).

         The University of Michigan filed a response to that motion stating that it “takes no position on this motion.” (D.E. No. 54).

         Local Rule 1.3 of the Local Rules for the Eastern District of Michigan provides that a civil case cover sheet is to be filed or completed when a new civil case is filed. The rule provides that the person filing the action typically completes that form, but that the ...


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