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Ann v. McLean

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

November 8, 2019

David St. Ann, Plaintiff,
v.
Todd McLean, Dean Polita, Sam Morgan, Thomas Haynes, and Kelly Buczek, Defendants.

          Anthony P. Patti Mag. Judge

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO PRECLUDE TESTIMONY OF CHRISTIN HARRIS [98]

          JUDITH E. LEVY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On September 5, 2019, pursuant to the Court's order (ECF No. 97, PageID.2149-50), Defendants submitted a supplemental summary judgment brief on whether Plaintiff's intentional infliction of emotional distress claim (“IIED”) should be permitted to go to trial, and whether Plaintiff's witness Christin Harris should be permitted to testify as a fact witness. (ECF No. 99.) Plaintiff responded. (ECF No. 97, PageID.2150.) The Court has carefully considered the issues and orders as follows.

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff alleges that on January 27, 2014, during his period of imprisonment in the Saginaw Correctional Facility (“SRF”), he received a misconduct ticket for disobeying a direct order to return to his cell. (ECF No. 99, PageID.2165, 2787.) On January 28, 2014, Warden Obell Winn approved Plaintiff to be placed under a “W05-Investigation, ” which increased Plaintiff's security level and housing unit to Level IV-a maximum security and disciplinary unit. (Id. at PageID.2192.) Plaintiff alleges that he did not receive notice of the nature of the W05-investigation and also alleges that the W05-investigation and security classification change were pretexts to punish Plaintiff for filing grievances against prison staff. (Id.)

         Plaintiff argues that he was wrongfully held in Level IV for a total of eighteen months, during which time he alleges he was verbally harassed and psychologically abused by prison staff Defendants Todd McLean, Dean Potila, Samuel Morgan, and Thomas Haynes. (Id.) He alleges that Defendants told other inmates that Plaintiff was a “baby raper, child molester, rat, and was writing snitch-kites[1] on inmates.” (Id. at PageID.2177.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants' scheme to spread these rumors to other inmates resulted in Plaintiff being “extorted, harmed, and/or even sexually assaulted by STG[2] gang members” while in Level IV. (Id.) He alleges that Defendants' position as prison staff gave them “the power of life and death” over Plaintiff and that their “evil motive and intent and recklessness” was to retaliate against Plaintiff for filing grievances and to intentionally inflict emotional distress. (Id. at 2177-2188.)

         Plaintiff alleges that in June 2016, he suffered from a “panic attack, chest pains, difficulty breathing, numbness and loss of feeling on left side of his body” as a result of Defendants' harassment, other inmates' extortion, and the STG members' sexual assault. (Id. at PageID.2174.) Plaintiff alleges that he continues to receive counseling and psychiatric treatment for PTSD, nightmares, anxiety, and depression and has been prescribed psychotropic medication. (Id. at PageID.2175.) Finally, he argues that if the Court were to dismiss his IIED claim, this would allow “criminal, inhumane, sadistic behavior to flourish in prisons.” (Id. at PageID.2180.)

         B. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is proper when “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Court may not grant summary judgment if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The Court “views the evidence, all facts, and any inferences that may be drawn from the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Pure Tech Sys., Inc. v. Mt. Hawley Ins. Co., 95 Fed.Appx. 132, 135 (6th Cir. 2004) (citing Skousen v. Brighton High Sch., 305 F.3d 520, 526 (6th Cir. 2002)).

         C. Applicable Law

         To prevail on a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress under Michigan law, Plaintiff must demonstrate the following elements: “‘(1) extreme and outrageous conduct; (2) intent or recklessness; (3) causation; and (4) severe emotional distress.'” Roberts v. Auto-Owners Inc., Co., 422 Mich. 594, 602 (1985). “The outrageous conduct requirement is satisfied only by conduct that is so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community. Liability arises, moreover, only where the distress inflicted is so severe that no reasonable man could be expected to endure it.” Andrews v. Prudential Secs., Inc., 160 F.3d 304, 309 (6th Cir. 1998) (internal citations and quotations omitted). Tortious, intentional, and even criminal conduct is not sufficient to meet this standard; instead, the test has been described as whether “the recitation of the facts to an average member of the community would arouse his resentment against the actor, and lead him to exclaim, ‘Outrageous!' ” Roberts 422 Mich. at 603.

         D. Analysis

         1. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

         Defendants deny that they intentionally caused Plaintiff emotional distress. (ECF No.98, PageID.2158.) In support of their position, they rely on affidavits of Defendants Buczek, Potila, Morgan, McLean, and Haynes filed in support of their original motion for summary judgment, which sets forth that each individual “always acted in good faith without harassing Plaintiff in any way.” (ECF Nos. 48-7, 48-5, 48-4, 48-3, and 48-2.) They also argue that there is no evidence that Plaintiff suffered “severe emotional ...


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