Gong v. The University of Michigan et al
OPINION AND ORDER Denying Plaintiff's Motions for Reassignment (Dkts. 13 , 14 ). Signed by District Judge Mark A. Goldsmith. (Sandusky, K)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Civil Action No. 16-CV-14516
HON. MARK A. GOLDSMITH
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN,
OPINION AND ORDER
DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTIONS FOR CASE REASSIGNMENT (Dkts. 13, 14)
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Yusong Gong’s motions for case
reassignment (Dkt. 13, 14).1 Gong argues that she will not receive fair treatment from the
undersigned because she has failed to timely receive the undersigned’s past orders. She also
argues that the undersigned is biased in favor of Defendants in light of the undersigned’s
education and work history.
The Court concludes that oral argument would not assist in
resolution of this matter. See Local Rule 7.1(f)(2). For the reasons discussed below, Gong’s
motions are denied.
On February 16, 2017, the Court denied Gong’s application to proceed in forma pauperis,
ordering that she pay the necessary fees and costs. 2/16/2017 Order (Dkt. 7). Gong’s motion for
reconsideration (Dkt. 8) was denied on March 6, 2017, but Gong was granted additional time —
until March 20, 2017 — to pay the required fees and costs, or her case would be dismissed.
The motions are identical to one another. Because of this fact, all citations to Gong’s motion
are to her first motion (Dkt. 13).
3/6/2017 Order (Dkt. 9). Because she did not timely pay the filing fee, the Court dismissed
Gong’s case without prejudice on April 5, 2017. 4/5/2017 Order (Dkt. 10).
Gong then filed a motion seeking case reinstatement (Dkt. 11), claiming that she never
received the Court’s March 6, 2017 order, and that she did not receive the April 5, 2017 order
until two weeks after it was issued. Gong also moved to have this case reassigned to another
judge, arguing that the undersigned’s failure to timely mail orders caused her to lose trust in the
undersigned. The Court rejected Gong’s request for reassignment, but reinstated the case in light
of her status as a pro se litigant. 5/5/2017 Order (Dkt. 12). Gong now moves for reassignment
again, claiming that, because of alleged clerical errors, she has a concern that she will not receive
“fair judgment” and that the undersigned allegedly has conflicts of interest.
Gong first argues that reassignment is warranted because she will not receive fair
treatment “[b]ased on the difficulties she has already experienced from Hon. Mark Goldsmith
and his chamber[.]” Pl. Mot. at 1 (cm/ecf page). In support of this argument, Gong claims that
the undersigned failed to timely to mail her orders. Gong also argues for reassignment based on
alleged “conflicts interest [sic],” because of which she will not “receive a fair trial and justice[.]”
Id. at 2.
Gong does not cite any statute to support either claim for reassignment, which the Court
interprets to mean disqualification. However, the obvious candidate is 28 U.S.C. § 455(a),
which states that “[a]ny justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify
himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” However,
Gong’s arguments do not satisfy the statute.
Gong cites no authority holding that a judge’s impartiality can reasonably be questioned
because of clerical errors. Further, there is no factual basis to this claim: an examination of the
docket shows that each of the orders in question was promptly mailed to Gong after they were
issued (Dkts. 7, 9, 10). Certificates of service, appearing beneath each order, demonstrate that
these orders were mailed to Gong on the same day they were issued. As a result, disqualification
is not warranted on this basis.
Gong’s argument based on alleged conflicts also lacks merit. The alleged conflicts are
based on the fact that the undersigned is a graduate of the University of Michigan; is a “life long
attorney representing the best interests for employers”; and the undersigned’s former law firm
has “a very close relationship with University of Michigan, [and] many of their attorneys are also
teaching faculties at UM law school.” Pl. Mot. at 2 (cm/ecf page).
However, Gong cites no authority that any such circumstances amount to a conflict of
interest, much less that they would reasonably draw into question a judge’s impartiality. And no
such authority exists; in fact, authority exists contradicting Gong’s position. See, e.g., Clarkco
Landfill Co. v. Clark Cty. Solid Waste Mgmt. Dist., 20 F. Supp. 2d 1185, 1190-1193 (S.D. Ohio
1998) (holding that education and past participation in a particular practice area are not grounds
The circumstances Gong points to raise no concern whatsoever of partiality. The
undersigned graduated the University of Michigan in 1974 — over 44 years ago. The
undersigned terminated his relationship with his former firm in 2004 — over 13 years ago.
Further, the undersigned worked in the firm’s litigation department — not its labor department;
whatever isolated involvement he might have had with a labor dispute (if any) was hardly a
significant part of his practice. And even if it had been – which it clearly was not – such a
professional history would not amount to a conflict of interest. Judges are not disqualified
because they have practiced in a certain area representing a certain class of litigants. Id. at 1190.
Although Gong does not expressly claim that the undersigned is biased against her, such
a claim, even if made, would fare no better. Title 28 U.S.C. § 455 addresses bias, stating that a
judge shall disqualify himself “[w]here he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party[.]”
28 U.S.C. § 455(b)(1). Gong has not pointed to any personal bias against her, and in fact the
undersigned has no such bias. Gong is known to the undersigned only by virtue of this litigation.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court denies Gong’s motions for case reassignment (Dkt.
Dated: June 7, 2017
s/Mark A. Goldsmith
MARK A. GOLDSMITH
United States District Judge
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
The undersigned certifies that the foregoing document was served upon counsel of record and
any unrepresented parties via the Court's ECF System to their respective email or First Class
U.S. mail addresses disclosed on the Notice of Electronic Filing on June 7, 2017.
s/Marlena Williams for Karri Sandusky
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