Willis v. New World Van Lines, Inc., 99-CV-76323.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
Citation123 F.Supp.2d 380
Docket NumberNo. 99-CV-76323.,99-CV-76323.
PartiesDonald WILLIS, et al., Plaintiffs, v. NEW WORLD VAN LINES, INC., et al., Defendants.
Decision Date02 November 2000
123 F.Supp.2d 380
Donald WILLIS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
NEW WORLD VAN LINES, INC., et al., Defendants.
No. 99-CV-76323.
United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division.
November 2, 2000.

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Kurt B. Vander Voort, Ann Arbor, MI, for Plaintiffs.

Phillip L. Sternberg, Bruce J. Lazar, Couzens, Lansky, Farmington, Hills, MI, James E. Stewart, J. Michael Huget, John C. Blattner, Butzel Long, Ann Arbor, MI, for Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING DEFENDANT NEW WORLD VAN LINES; DISMISSING PLAINTIFFS' CLAIM OF CLAIM AND DELIVERY; GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS SONY'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT; DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND COMPLAINT; DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL DISCOVERY, AND; AMENDING SCHEDULING ORDER

STEEH, District Judge.


Defendants Sony Interactive Entertainment, Inc., Sony Music Entertainment, Inc, Sony Electronic Publishing Co., Sony Music Distribution, and Sony Computer Entertainment America, Inc. (collectively referred to as "Sony") move for partial summary judgment as to plaintiffs Donald Willis' and Teresita Willis' claims of emotional distress damages, third-party beneficiary breach of contract, statutory conversion under M.C.L. § 600.2919a, promissory estoppel, bad faith/silent fraud, tortious interference with contract, and exemplary damages. Plaintiffs move for leave to file a Second Amended Complaint to add claims of common law conversion, negligence, trespass to chattel, breach of fiduciary duty, and civil conspiracy. Plaintiffs also move to compel: (1) the deposing of Sony's Veronica Gargone, Larry Rubin, Andrew Zaffron, and Sony's Custodian of Records; (2) supplemental responses to plaintiffs' First Request for Admissions, First Request for Production of Documents, and First Set of Interrogatories, and; (3) responses to plaintiffs' Second Set of Discovery Requests. Plaintiffs further move to amend the current scheduling order. For the

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reasons set forth below, Sony's motion for partial summary judgment will be GRANTED, IN PART, and DENIED, IN PART. Plaintiffs' motion for leave to file an amended complaint will be DENIED. Plaintiffs' motion to compel discovery will be DENIED. Plaintiffs' motion to amend the scheduling order will be GRANTED, IN PART, to provide new dates for filing the Final Pretrial Order, the Final Pretrial Conference, and trial.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Donald and Teresita Willis filed a First Amended Complaint on June 15, 1999 alleging Donald Willis and one or more of the Sony defendants agreed on February 2, 1995 that Willis would become employed by Sony. Specifically, Donald Willis was hired as the Vice President for Software Services of Sony Interactive Entertainment, Inc. ("SIE"), formerly known as Sony Electronic Publishing. Plaintiffs allege Sony agreed to pay their moving expenses incurred as a result of relocating from Virginia to Ann Arbor, Michigan. This agreement is referred to as the "Sony/Willis Contract". Plaintiffs allege Sony in turn contracted with defendant New World Van Lines, Inc. to provide the plaintiffs with moving and storage services. This agreement is referred to as the "Sony/New World Contract". Plaintiffs allege New World agreed to properly pack, transport, store and deliver their personal property, accepting a consignment of their goods on August 28, 1995. Plaintiffs allege they are third-party beneficiaries to the Sony/New World Contract.

Plaintiffs continue by alleging that, on January 31, 1996, Sony terminated Donald Willis' employment, prompting Willis and others to file a wrongful discharge lawsuit against SIE and Sony Music Entertainment, Inc. ("SME")1. Plaintiffs allege Sony responded by refusing to pay New World, thereby breaching the February 2, 1995 Sony/Willis Contract to the extent Sony agreed to pay all moving expenses. Plaintiff Donald Willis' wife Teresita Willis alleges she is a third-party beneficiary to the Sony/Willis Contract.

Count I of the First Amended Complaint alleges breach of the February 2, 1995 Sony/Willis Contract, and replevin as against Sony. Count II alleges breach of the alleged August 28, 1995 Sony/New World contract, and replevin against New World Van Lines. Count III seeks treble damages for conversion under M.C.L. § 600.2919a for the defendants' refusal to return the plaintiffs' personal property. Count IV alleges claim and delivery under M.C.L. § 600.2920. Count V alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress against Sony. Count VI alleges promissory estoppel. Count VII alleges bad faith/silent fraud against Sony for statements and omissions made by Sony's Bob Hurley regarding the payment of the plaintiffs' moving expenses. Count VIII alleges Sony tortiously interfered with the Sony/New World contract. Count IX alleges Sony is liable for exemplary damages because Sony retaliated against Donald Willis for filing a wrongful discharge lawsuit.

Defendant New World filed a counterclaim against the plaintiffs on September 9, 1999 alleging Donald Willis was a consignee to the Sony/New World Contract under which New World transported the plaintiffs' goods from Vienna, Virginia to Ann Arbor, Michigan in August 1995. New World alleges the plaintiffs did not have an Ann Arbor residence capable of receiving all of their goods, however, so the plaintiffs directed New World to place the goods in storage. New World alleges it has stored the plaintiffs' property since August 28, 1995, and that the plaintiffs are liable under the Sony/New World Contract for $25,657.95 in storage charges plus charges that continue to accrue.

On July 5, 2000, the court entered a stipulated order of partial settlement

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wherein Sony agreed to pay the plaintiffs $43,805.30 for charges that accrued after February 15, 2000, in satisfaction of Sony's alleged duty to reimburse the plaintiffs for relocating, transporting, or moving their household goods. The parties also agreed that, upon Sony's tender of the $43,805.30 payment, plaintiffs would dismiss Count IV alleging claim and delivery. On that same date, July 5, 2000, the court entered a second stipulated order providing for the dismissal of New World and its counterclaims on conditions that Sony tender the $43,805.30 payment to the plaintiffs, and the plaintiffs pay New World $34,805.29.

On August 23, 2000, plaintiffs filed their motions for leave to file an amended complaint, to compel discovery, and to amend the current scheduling order. On August 28, 2000, the court held a scheduled hearing on Sony's motion for partial summary judgment. At the hearing, plaintiffs indicated a reservation about negotiating a $43,805.30 check tendered by Sony, arguing that acceptance of the check should not be construed as an admission or evidence of the corporate relationships among the various Sony defendants. Sony agreed that plaintiffs' acceptance of the check should not be used as evidence. With that understanding, plaintiffs agreed to accept the check. Following oral argument on Sony's motion for partial summary judgment, the court permitted Sony to file a supplemental affidavit attesting to the corporate relationships among the Sony defendants. Sony filed an affidavit and supplemental brief on September 1, 2000. On September 11, 2000, Sony filed its response to the plaintiffs' motions. Plaintiffs filed their reply brief on September 21, 2000. On October 4, 2000, the court received a letter from plaintiffs' counsel advising that defendant New World should be dismissed from this lawsuit consistent with the Court's July 5, 2000 Orders.

II. STIPULATED DISMISSALS

Plaintiffs have demonstrated that the conditions of the July 5, 2000 stipulated orders have been satisfied. Accordingly, defendant New World, and New World's counterclaims, will be dismissed. Plaintiffs claims of claim and delivery under M.C.L. § 600.2920 as alleged in Count IV will also be dismissed.

III. SONY'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Sony moves for partial summary judgment of the plaintiffs' claims for emotional distress damages allegedly arising from the breach of the Sony/Willis Contract as alleged in Count I2, plaintiff Teresita Willis' third-party beneficiary claim of breach of the Sony/Willis Contract as alleged in Count I, plaintiffs' statutory conversion claim under M.C.L. § 600.2919a as alleged in Count III, plaintiffs' intentional infliction of emotional distress claim as alleged in Count V, plaintiffs' promissory estoppel claim as alleged in Count VI, plaintiffs' bad faith/silent fraud claim as alleged in Count VII, plaintiffs' tortious interference claim as alleged in Count VIII, and plaintiffs' claim for exemplary damages under Count IX.3 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) empowers the court to render summary judgment "forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." See FDIC v. Alexander, 78 F.3d 1103, 1106 (6th Cir.1996). The Supreme Court has affirmed the court's use of summary judgment as an integral part of the fair and efficient administration of justice. The procedure is not a disfavored procedural shortcut. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); see also Kutrom

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Corp. v. City of Center Line, 979 F.2d 1171, 1174 (6th Cir.1992).

The standard for determining whether summary judgment is appropriate is "`whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.'" Winningham v. North Am. Resources Corp., 42 F.3d 981, 984 (6th Cir. 1994) (citing Booker v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co., 879 F.2d 1304, 1310 (6th Cir.1989)). The evidence and all inferences drawn...

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35 practice notes
  • Pittman v. Experian Info. Solutions, Inc., 17-1677
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • August 23, 2018
    ...a motion to compel discovery where the motion to compel was filed after the close of discovery." Willis v. New World Van Lines, Inc. , 123 F.Supp.2d 380, 401 (E.D. Mich. 2000) (citing Ginett , 166 F.3d 1213 ). In a number of cases, courts have denied discovery motions filed after the close ......
  • Olver v. City of Berkley, 01-CV-71689.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
    • April 22, 2003
    ...that the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress is actionable in Michigan. See Willis v. New World Van Lines, Inc., 123 F.Supp.2d 380 (E.D.Mich.2000); Howard, v. Calhoun County, 148 F.Supp.2d 883, 892 n. 4 (W.D.Mich.2001) ("Although the tort of intentional infliction of emotio......
  • Sensormatic Security Corporation v. Sensormatic Electronics Corporation, Civil Action No. DKC 2002-1565.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • September 7, 2006
    ...three cases from outside Maryland: Shearin v. E.F. Hutton Group, Inc., 652 A.2d 578 (Del.Ch.1994); Willis v. New World Van Lines, Inc., 123 F.Supp.2d 380 (E.D.Mich.2000); and MTI/The Image Group, Inc. v. Fox Studios East, Inc., 262 A.D.2d 20, 690 N.Y.S.2d 576 (N.Y.App.Div.1999). In these ca......
  • Diamond Computer Systems v. Sbc Communications, 03-10011-BC.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
    • March 27, 2006
    ...of a written commercial contract, the doctrine of promissory estoppel is not applicable." Willis v. New World Van Lines, Inc., 123 F.Supp.2d 380, 395 SBC argues that the contractual agreements preclude Diamond's promissory estoppel claims. Diamond argues that the contractual agreements do n......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
35 cases
  • Pittman v. Experian Info. Solutions, Inc.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • August 23, 2018
    ...a motion to compel discovery where the motion to compel was filed after the close of discovery." Willis v. New World Van Lines, Inc. , 123 F.Supp.2d 380, 401 (E.D. Mich. 2000) (citing Ginett , 166 F.3d 1213 ). In a number of cases, courts have denied discovery motions filed after the close ......
  • Olver v. City of Berkley, 01-CV-71689.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
    • April 22, 2003
    ...that the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress is actionable in Michigan. See Willis v. New World Van Lines, Inc., 123 F.Supp.2d 380 (E.D.Mich.2000); Howard, v. Calhoun County, 148 F.Supp.2d 883, 892 n. 4 (W.D.Mich.2001) ("Although the tort of intentional infliction of emotio......
  • Sensormatic Security Corporation v. Sensormatic Electronics Corporation, Civil Action No. DKC 2002-1565.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • September 7, 2006
    ...relies on three cases from outside Maryland: Shearin v. E.F. Hutton Group, Inc., 652 A.2d 578 (Del.Ch.1994); Willis v. New World Van Lines, Inc., 123 F.Supp.2d 380 (E.D.Mich.2000); and MTI/The Image Group, Inc. v. Fox Studios East, Inc., 262 A.D.2d 20, 690 N.Y.S.2d 576 (N.Y.App.Div.1999). I......
  • Diamond Computer Systems v. Sbc Communications
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
    • March 27, 2006
    ...of a written commercial contract, the doctrine of promissory estoppel is not applicable." Willis v. New World Van Lines, Inc., 123 F.Supp.2d 380, 395 SBC argues that the contractual agreements preclude Diamond's promissory estoppel claims. Diamond argues that the contractual agreements do n......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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