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Gamrat v. Cline

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

July 11, 2019

CINDY GAMRAT, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSHUA CLINE and DAVID HORR, Defendants.

          OPINION

          GORDON J. QUIST, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The Court heard oral argument on three interrelated motions on June 25, 2019. Defendant Joshua Cline filed his Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint on December 17, 2018. (ECF No. 131.) Cline was a legislative staffer to Cindy Gamrat[1] and Todd Courser, similar to previously dismissed Defendants Keith Allard and Benjamin Graham. Cline argues that he had less involvement in the alleged events than Allard and Graham and that when the Court examined the same claims, issues, and defenses in regard to Allard and Graham's motion to dismiss, it found that Gamrat failed to state a claim against Allard and Graham.

         Gamrat responded to Cline's motion to dismiss on January 15, 2019. (ECF No. 143.) In that response, Gamrat asked the Court to consider new factual allegations in a yet-to-be-filed Second Amended Complaint to defeat Cline's motion to dismiss. One day earlier, Gamrat had filed a Motion for Relief from Judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), requesting that the Court grant relief from its March 15, 2018, Order, so that Gamrat could revive claims against dismissed Defendants Allard; Graham; Kevin Cotter, the former Speaker of the House; Norm Saari, the former Chief of Staff to Cotter; and Brock Swartzle, former General Counsel for the Michigan House of Representatives. (ECF No. 138.) On January 22, 2019, Gamrat filed a Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint, reasserting claims against the aforementioned dismissed Defendants and adding factual allegations based on information gained through discovery in this case and discovery in Courser's state criminal case. (ECF No. 146.)

         I. Background

         Gamrat and Courser were elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 2014 and began serving in their capacities as representatives in early 2015. Gamrat and Courser had a joint staffing arrangement, whereby Allard, Graham, and Cline worked for both representatives, sharing time between their separate offices.

         In February 2015, Joseph Gamrat, Cindy Gamrat's then husband, told Allard, Graham, and Cline that he believed Gamrat and Courser were having a sexual relationship, an affair to which Gamrat and Courser later admitted. Joseph Gamrat had frequent communications with Allard, Graham, and Cline throughout the relevant course of events.

         On April 14, 2015, Cline quit his position as a legislative staffer. On May 19, 2015, Graham recorded a conversation that he had with Courser in Courser's office in which Courser asked Graham to send a “false flag” email to cover up the affair.[2] On July 6, 2015, Allard and Graham were fired from their positions with the House. On August 7, 2015, the Detroit News ran a story on Gamrat and Courser's affair, which included a portion of the May 19, 2015, recording that Graham had provided to the Detroit News.

         After the news story broke, Cotter directed Tim Bowlin, the Business Director for the House, to investigate allegations of the misuse of taxpayer resources to cover up the affair. On August 19, 2015, the House voted to form a bi-partisan Select Committee in connection with the investigation of Gamrat and Courser. On August 31, 2015, the House Business Office published its report based on Bowlin's investigation (HBO report). Hearings of the Select Committee began on September 8, 2015. The Committee voted to expel Gamrat on September 10, 2015. Very early the next morning, Gamrat was expelled by a vote of the full House.

         From May to August 2015, Gamrat and Courser received anonymous extortion texts demanding that they resign from office. A Michigan State Police (MSP) investigation later revealed that Joseph Gamrat and Defendant David Horr were behind the extortion texts.

         According to Gamrat, the new information that she has incorporated into the factual allegations of her Second Amended Complaint is as follows:

• Allard, Graham, and Cline were experienced and savvy political insiders-a “trifecta” in the words of Cline. There were certainly not the young and naïve political newbies that counsel for Allard and Graham attempted to portray in their motion to dismiss;
• Cotter and his staff had a contentious relationship with Gamrat;
• Saari had several meetings with Allard, Graham, and Cline, and told them in no uncertain terms that they work for the Speaker first; • Cline saw it as his duty as a member of Cotter's staff first to give him and his staff information regarding Gamrat;
• Cline was providing information regarding Gamrat to several members of Cotter's staff;
• Cline received a severance package when he resigned;
• Saari and another member of Cotter's staff offered to help Cline find other employment ...

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