Granger v. Klein, 00-CV-70386-DT.

Decision Date28 March 2002
Docket NumberNo. 00-CV-70386-DT.,00-CV-70386-DT.
Citation197 F.Supp.2d 851
PartiesDaniel R. GRANGER, an individual, Plaintiff, v. Suzanne KLEIN, an individual, Jostens, Inc., a foreign corporation, Grosse Pointe Public School System, a Michigan school district, Caryn Wells, an individual, Karen Clein, an individual, and Thomas Teetaert, an individual, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Michigan

Richard F. Darke, St. Clair Shores, MI, for Daniel R. Granger.

Julie A. Lawson, Bodman, Longley, Detroit, MI, Mark W. McInerney, Clark Hill, Detroit, MI, Thomas G. Cardelli, Nicholas S. Andrews, Cardelli, Hebert, Royal Oak, MI, Robert J. Lantzy, Secrest, Wardle, Mt. Clemons, MI, for Suzanne Klein, Grosse Pointe Bd. of Educ., Caryn Wells, Karen Clein, Thomas Teetaert.

James R. Kohl, Novi, MI, Mark W. McInerney, Detroit, MI, for Jostens, Inc.

James R. Kohl, Novi, MI, for Jostens Photography, Inc.

Mark W. McInerney, Clark Hill, Detroit, MI, Thomas G. Cardelli, Cardelli, Hebert, Royal Oak, MI, for Grosse Pointe School System.


HOOD, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Grosse Pointe Public School System, Suzanne Klein, Caryn Wells, Thomas Teetaert and Karen Clein (collectively, "School Defendants"). Also before the Court is Defendant Jostens Motions for Summary Judgment and Involuntary Dismissal. For the following reasons, this Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Amend, PARTIALLY GRANTS the School Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, GRANTS Defendant Jostens' Motion for Summary Judgment, and MOOTS Defendant Jostens' Motion for Involuntary Dismissal.


Plaintiff Daniel Granger was a senior at Grosse Pointe High School who was to graduate in June 1998. In May 1998, Defendant Jostens and Jostens Photography published the school's annual yearbook, a page of which displayed a photograph of Plaintiff's genitalia. Plaintiff claims he suffered embarrassment, humiliation and disgrace as a result. Plaintiff claims that "Defendants" and other administrators began an investigation into the source of the yearbook incident, which turned into a "witch hunt" to discover personal and private information about Plaintiff Granger. Plaintiff alleges that the principal (Defendant Wells) and the Yearbook Advisor (Defendant Clein) believed they would lose their jobs over the yearbook incident and would be sued. As a result, Defendants Wells and Clein, along with the Assistant Principal (Defendant Teetaert), allegedly began threatening, and/or promising favors to students for gathering personal information about Plaintiff.

On June 2, 1998, two students who were questioned as part of the investigation allegedly suggested that the high school, the Principal, and the yearbook advisor, should blackmail Plaintiff for statutory rape. "Defendants" contacted the parents of these students and recommended they contact the Grosse Pointe Police Department regarding the allegation of statutory rape committed against two females. Plaintiff was later charged with statutory rape, and served 4½ months in the Dickerson Correctional Facility and two years probation (although Plaintiff claims he was not convicted of any sex crime).

On June 5, 1998, Plaintiff was expelled from school, with only five days remaining until graduation. A letter was placed in his file which allegedly accuses Plaintiff of deviate behavior, and sets forth other falsehoods against Plaintiff. On June 8, 1998, Plaintiff's father received a letter from the high school which sets forth the accusations against Plaintiff. Plaintiff claims that, as a result of the actions of Defendants and the letter in his file, the University of Michigan withdrew his acceptance to the University for the Fall 1998 semester, and that he has also been denied entrance into Wayne State University and the University of Miami (Ohio). Plaintiff claims that he can no longer pursue his desire to go into politics.

Plaintiff brought a ten count complaint against the Defendants in Wayne County Circuit Court on December 23, 1999. For the most part, the Counts did not set forth which specific defendant was being sued for the respective count. Count I alleged various types of invasion of privacy, including intrusion upon seclusion, public disclosure of embarrassing facts, and placing Plaintiff in a false light. Count II also alleged invasion of privacy under the Michigan, and the United States Constitutions. This Count appears to apply only to the Grosse Pointe Defendants, not to the Jostens Defendants. Count III alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress. Count IV alleged negligence in publishing and distributing the yearbook picture. Count V alleged defamation in publishing the June 1998 letter to third parties. Count VI alleged a denial of procedural due process in expelling Plaintiff without notice and an opportunity to be heard. Count VII alleged that Plaintiff was denied equal protection of the laws because, as a male student, he was treated differently than similarly situated female students with respect to the school's sexual harassment policy. Count VIII alleged that Defendants violated Title IX, inter alia, by allowing a sexually hostile environment to exist. Count IX alleged that Defendant interfered with Plaintiff's contractual relations with the University of Michigan, in that the University withdrew its acceptance of Plaintiff as a student. Count X alleged negligent supervision in the printing, publishing, and distributing of the yearbook.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441, Defendants removed this action on January 24, 2000, because the Complaint alleged federal questions, thereby allowing jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. On September 29, 2000, this Court dismissed Count V (Defamation) as to all Defendants based on the statute of limitations. This Court also denied Defendants' Motion to Dismiss based on governmental immunity without prejudice pending discovery as to the proprietary function exception. Counts IV (Negligence) and X (Negligent Supervision) were dismissed as to Defendants Wells, Clein and Teetaert only, and Defendant Grosse Pointe Board of Education was dismissed from the entire case as an entity not amenable to suit.

On October 20, 2000, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint that named the Grosse Pointe Schools District as a Defendant and purported to demonstrate the proprietary nature of the yearbook. The Amended Complaint also added a defamation claim against the District, Defendant Wells and other administrators of the high school, alleging that the June 8, 1998 letter was published to Wayne State University, Miami University of Ohio, and Bowling Green State University. Defendants Grosse Pointe School District, Klein, Wells, Teetaert, Clein and Jostens move for summary judgment on Plaintiff's Amended Complaint on June 29, 2001.1 On October 16, 2001, Defendant Jostens filed a Motion for Involuntary Dismissal pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 41(b). Plaintiff filed untimely Response briefs to each of these Motions on October 18, 2001.


Summary judgment is appropriate if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to the interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED.R.CIV.P. 56(c); Wojcik v. City of Romulus, 257 F.3d 600, 608 (6th Cir.2001); Nelson v. City of Flint, 136 F.Supp.2d 703, 712 (E.D.Mich.2001). The movant must meet the initial burden of showing "the absence of a genuine issue of material fact" as to an essential element of the non-movant's case. See Betkerur v. Aultman Hospital Association, 78 F.3d 1079, 1087 (6th Cir.1996); Nelson, 136 F.Supp.2d at 712. Once a properly supported summary judgment motion has been filed, however, the burden shifts to the party opposing the motion to "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." FED.R.CIV.P. 56(e).

The presence of factual disputes will preclude granting of summary judgment only if the disputes are genuine and concern material facts. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is "genuine" only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. In deciding a motion for summary judgment, a court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The non-movant must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348; Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24, 106 S.Ct. 2548; Nelson, 136 F.Supp.2d at 712. Moreover, the court need not accept as true legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences. Varljen v. Cleveland Gear Co., Inc., 250 F.3d 426, 429 (6th Cir.2001); Hoeberling v. Nolan, 49 F.Supp.2d 575, 577 (E.D.Mich.1999).

For a dismissal to be proper, it must appear beyond doubt "that the plaintiff would not be able to recover under any set of facts that could be presented consistent with the allegations of the complaint." Varljen, 250 F.3d at 429. Summary judgment must be entered against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548. In such a situation, there can be "no genuine issue as to any material fact," since a complete failure of...

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