Wahlstrom v. Monk et al
ORDER denying 59 Motion for Reconsideration. Signed by District Judge Denise Page Hood. (JOwe)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
DEBORAH WAHLSTROM and
Case No. 15-14113
HON. DENISE PAGE HOOD
JASON MONK, EDWARD BURLEY,
GLENN VOORHESS, JEANINE
WALKER, and MOUNT CLEMENS
COMMUNITY SCHOOLS BOARD
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION [#59]
On June 1, 2015, the Court entered an Amended Order Denying Defendants’
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. In that Amended Order, the Court denied
Defendant’s request that the Court dismiss Plaintiffs’ tortious interference claim with
respect to Plaintiff Deborah Wahlstrom (“Wahlstrom”). Defendants filed a timely
Motion for Reconsideration.
In order to obtain reconsideration of a particular matter, the party bringing the
motion for reconsideration must: (1) demonstrate a palpable defect by which the
Court and the parties have been misled; and (2) demonstrate that “correcting the
defect will result in a different disposition of the case.” E.D. Mich. L.R. 7.1(h)(3). See
also Graham ex rel. Estate of Graham v. County of Washtenaw, 358 F.3d 377, 385
(6th Cir. 2004); Aetna Cas. and Sur. Co. v. Dow Chemical Co., 44 F.Supp.2d 865,
866 (E.D. Mich. 1999); Kirkpatrick v. General Electric, 969 F.Supp. 457, 459 (E.D.
A “palpable defect” is a “defect which is obvious, clear, unmistakable,
manifest, or plain.” Olson v. The Home Depot, 321 F.Supp.2d 872, 874 (E.D. Mich.
2004). The movant must also demonstrate that the disposition of the case would be
different if the palpable defect were cured. E.D. Mich. L.R. 7.1(h)(3). Brown v.
Walgreens Income Protective Plan for Store Managers, No. 10-CV-14442, 2013 WL
1040530, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 15, 2013). “[T]he court will not grant motions for
rehearing or reconsideration that merely present the same issues ruled upon by the
Court, either expressly or by reasonable implication.” E.D. Mich. L.R. 7.1(h)(3).
In the Amended Order, the Court concluded that:
It is undisputed that, as of July 31, 2015, (a) Wahlstrom had served as
Superintendent of the District for three years, (b) the parties to the
Agreement had twice renewed a 12-month contract for her services, and
(c) Wahlstrom had received a rating of 2.8 out 4 on or about June 30,
2015, which was a favorable review according to Board President Earl
Rickman. Dkt. No. 43, Ex. B at PgID 543. As Mr. Rickman stated,
Wahlstrom “wasn’t let go based on her accomplishing goals or anything
like that. It must have been something other than those elements.” Id.
Evidence in the record reflects the quality of Wahlstrom’s evaluation,
Mr. Rickman’s statements, the timing of Wahlstrom’s reprimand of
Defendant Monk, and the other actions she took following the
publication of the Anonymous Allegations and the investigative article.
The Court concludes that those events establish a genuine dispute of
material fact whether there was a reasonable likelihood or probability
that Wahlstrom would continue to have a business relationship with the
District (serving as its Superintendent) after July 31, 2015, but for the
actions of the individual Defendants.
Dkt. No. 58, PgID 1130-31.
Defendants now argue that the Court’s conclusion was based on the following
palpable defects: (a) there could be no reasonable expectation that Wahlstrom’s
business relationship would last beyond July 31, 2015 because, as she acknowledged,
the average length of time for a superintendent position is 3.5 years, Dkt. No. 49-3,
PgID769, and she had already worked as Superintendent for three years; (b) the fact
that her contract had previously been renewed did not mean her contract would be
renewed again (citing Grand Rapids Plastics, Inc. v. Lakian, 188 F.3d 401 (6th Cir.
1999)); and (c) she was in an automobile accident in November 2015 that Wahlstrom
admits rendered her no longer physically able to perform as a superintendent.
The Court is not persuaded by Defendants’ argument that Wahlstrom had no
reasonable expectation of a continued business relationship because she testified that
the average length of a superintendent’s position is 3.5 years and she already had
worked three years as Superintendent for the District. First, Wahlstrom’s belief is not
controlling on the issue of how long a superintendent holds a position. Second, she
testified that the average length of a superintendent position was 3.5 years but she had
only worked three years at the time, so she had not yet reached the average at the time
of the relevant events. Third, as Defendants note in their filings in a related case,1 the
superintendent who replaced Wahlstrom had worked as the superintendent in the
South Lyon school district for 20 years. For these reasons, the Court does not find
that it or the parties was misled by a palpable defect.
The Court is not persuaded by Defendants’ reliance on Lakian. The plaintiff
in Lakian was an auto parts supplier who contracted to do isolated projects on two
separate occasions, in 1990 and 1992 but was not selected for other, isolated and
separate projects in 1994 and 1998. Lakian, 188 F.3d at 407-08. Unlike Wahlstrom,
who provided services for three years, without interruption, and functioned more as
an employee, the Lakian plaintiff did not have a continuous or employment-type
relationship. The Court finds that Lakian does not apply to or govern the facts of this
See Case No. 16-11444, Dkt. No. 49, PgID 529-30; Dkt. No. 49-11, PgID 762.
Third, Wahlstrom was involved in a disabling auto accident in November 2015,
months after the alleged interference with her business relationship. That accident
is irrelevant to the Court’s analysis of whether there is a genuine dispute of material
fact regarding alleged interference in June and July 2015. Accordingly, the Court
declines Defendants’ argument.
For the reasons stated above, the Court denies Defendants’ Motion for
IT IS ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion for Reconsideration [#59] is
IT IS ORDERED.
S/Denise Page Hood
Denise Page Hood
Chief Judge, United States District Court
Dated: October 31, 2017
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon counsel of
record on October 31, 2017, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
S/LaShawn R. Saulsberry
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