United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
INTERNATIONAL UNIONS, SECURITY POLICE AND FIRE PROFESSIONALS OF AMERICA, SPFPA an International Union, and DAVID L. HICKEY, the International President of SPFPA, Plaintiffs,
STEVE MARITAS, an individual, and LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS SECURITY UNION, an unincorporated union, CALVIN WELLS, JAMES BURKE, and BRIKENER JEAN-GILLES, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS OR TRANSFER VENUE
(DOC. 3) AND DISMISSING JAMES BURKE AND BRIKENER JEAN-GILES
AND DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO CHANGE VENUE
COHN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a defamation and tortious interference case. Plaintiffs are
David Hickey (Hickey) and International Unions, Security
Police and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA). SPFPA is an
unincorporated international union doing business in Michigan
and elsewhere. Hickey is the President of SPFPA and a
resident of Michigan. Defendants are Law Enforcement Officers
Security Union (LEOSU), Steve Maritas (Maritas), the founder
and CEO of LEOSU, LEOSU board members Calvin Wells (Wells),
James Burke (Burke), and Brikener Jean-Gilles (Jean-Gilles).
LEOSU is a rival union with locals in various states and is
headquartered in New York. Wells is a resident of
Pennsylvania. Maritas, Burke, and Jean-Gilles are residents
of New York.
says that beginning in late 2017, LEOSU began a campaign of
publishing defamatory statements on the internet regarding
SPFPA. SPFPA says that this campaign has been damaging and
has continued to the present day.
the Court is defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2) and/or for
change of venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). (Doc. 3). For
the reasons which follow, the motion will be granted in part
and denied in part. Burke and Jean-Gilles will be dismissed
for lack of personal jurisdiction. Defendants' motion to
change venue will be denied.
is a labor union which represents over 16, 000 security,
police, and fire professionals. It has roughly 175 local
unions. LEOSU is also a labor union that represents security,
police and fire professionals. Maritas was employed by SPFPA
in Michigan for approximately eleven years before being
terminated. (Plaintiffs' Opposition, Exhibit 1, Hickey
Affidavit at ¶ 1).
complaint states that shortly before being terminated,
Maritas founded a rival union known as Federal Protective
Service Officers of America (FPSOA) and that Maritas initially
began defaming SPFPA through FPSOA. The complaint also says
that Maritas' job performance with SPFPA deteriorated and
he became subordinate, presumably due to his involvement with
FPSOA. He was terminated by SPFPA effective February 7, 2013.
After his involvement with FPSOA, Maritas founded LEOSU.
are three counts listed in the complaint, each of which will
be discussed further.
• Count I - Defamation
• Count II - Tortious Interference
• Count III - Preliminary Injunctive Relief
Count 1, SPFPA says that LEOSU's statements were harmful,
disparaging, defamatory and false. Complaint at p.8 ¶
20. It also says that LEOSU knew or had reason to know that
the statements would be published, and that they acted either
negligently or with actual malice. Id. at ¶ 22.
A number of examples of these statements are set forth in the
complaint as follows:
• “SPFPA the true authority of corrupt security
police unions” (10/24/2018) Id. at p. 4 ¶
• “Have you ever wondered why SPFPA Officials are
not answering your phone calls” (Image on man on toilet
in jail cell) (10/31/2018) Id.
• “SPFPA has a long history of corruption and
embezzlement” (Image of man in cuffs) (10/27/2018)
• “It's amazing how all these people in
coverup media roles end up linked to pedophilia and
Satanism” (10/28/2017) Id. at p. 5.
• “Hickey is living large on his members dues
money” (5/4/2018) Id.
also alleged that LEOSU is using multiple websites, YouTube
channels, and various social media accounts to publish
defamatory statements. (Plaintiffs' Opposition, Exhibit
1, Hickey Affidavit at ¶ 4). These statements have been
posted on the internet by LEOSU in what is alleged to be an
attempt to defame SPFPA.
Count II, it is alleged that LEOSU deliberately and
maliciously spoke to SPFPA union members and told them that
SPFPA was corrupt. Id. at p. 9 ¶ 29. Further,
it is alleged that the statements were false and intended to
harm and destroy the relationship between SPFPA and its local
unions and members. Id. at ¶ 30.
in Count III, SPFPA asks for injunctive relief, focusing on
the destruction of their reputation and business
relationships which resulted from the defamatory statements
plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that jurisdiction
exists when bringing an action in federal court.
Theunissen v. Matthews, 935 F.2d 1454, 1458 (6th
Cir. 1991) (citing McNutt v. General Motors Acceptance
Corp., 298 U.S. 178, 56 S.Ct. 780, 80 L.Ed. 1135
(1936)). Once the action is brought, it is up to the
discretion of the district court to either; “decide the
motion upon the affidavits alone; permit discovery in aid of