United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
PETER O. SAMPLES, Plaintiff,
PATTI PAYNE, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
A. Ingram, United States Magistrate Judge
Court considers Defendant Patti Payne's motion for
summary judgment. D.E. 32. Plaintiff Peter Samples has
responded in opposition. D.E. 34. No. timely reply brief was
April 9, 2018, Plaintiff brought this pro se lawsuit
in federal court against four defendants. D.E. 1. The lawsuit
concerns the Saint Camillus Academy Alumni Association
(“SCAAA”), an organization that was formed in
1914 and incorporated in Kentucky in 2000 as a 501(c)(3)
nonprofit organization. See D.E. 34 at 5. Plaintiff
was elected president in 1998 and retained that position
until the election of October 21, 2017. D.E. 32-2 at 11. Bob
Watkins, one of the original named defendants, was elected
during the meeting on October 21, 2017, replacing Plaintiff
as president. Id. . at 21.
alleged in the original complaint that the 2017 election was
part of “a conspiracy to commit theft and
misappropriation of corporate investments.” D.E. 1 at
2. In other words, Plaintiff alleges defendants plotted to
take over the SCAAA by electing Watkins president so they
could gain control of the SCAAA's assets. However,
Plaintiff testified at his deposition that he had no evidence
any SCAAA funds were misappropriated or even removed from
their accounts. D.E. 32-2 at 27.
to the Complaint, the election violated “the procedures
set forth in the SCAAA's Articles of Incorporation,
By-laws as Revised July 14, 2014, and Roberts Rules of
Order.” D.E. 1 at 2. The original named defendants
included three Kentucky residents (including Watkins) and
Patti Payne of St. Petersburg, Florida. Id. at 1.
The Complaint requested injunctive relief (id. at
3-4), which was denied (D.E. 7). The Civil Cover Sheet
requests $300, 000 in damages. D.E. 1-2. The Complaint
indicated the SCAAA possessed approximately $146, 000 in
financial investments. D.E. 1 at 2. And the Complaint
requested unspecified punitive damages. Id. at 4.
The Complaint did not clearly articulate the legal theory
upon which the lawsuit was based.
April 10, District Judge Reeves considered whether Plaintiffs
Complaint properly invoked federal jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. § 1332. D.E. 7. Judge Reeves found that the
amount-in-controversy requirement was satisfied. Id.
at 1. But the case lacked “complete diversity”
because three of the four defendants were Kentucky residents.
Id. at 1-2.
response, on April 27, Plaintiff moved to amend the Complaint
to include only Florida citizen Patti Payne as defendant.
D.E. 11. Plaintiff alleged Payne was the initiator and
orchestrator of “the take-over” of the SCAAA.
Id. at 1. Plaintiff requested $150, 000 in punitive
for the public embarrassment, humiliation, and mental anguish
caused by her actions in the interference of and creating a
breach of the contractual relationship between him and the
SCAAA, for usurping his authority as stipulated within the
SCAAA's Articles of Incorporation, By-laws as Revised
July 19, 2014, and Robert Rules of Order, and prohibiting him
from exercising the commitment he made to the SCAAA in his
Oath of Office.
Id. at 4; D.E. 14 at 6. The motion to amend was
granted (D.E. 12) and Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint,
which became the operative complaint in this case. D.E. 14.
The Amended Complaint alleges that Payne “has
continuously interfered with [Plaintiff's] contractual
obligations” and has conspired with others to do so.
Id. at 5. Plaintiff also testified at his deposition
that this lawsuit includes a single legal claim,
i.e., intentional interference with contractual
relations. D.E. 32-2 at 28.
Payne answered the Complaint, Judge Reeves ordered a Rule
26(f) planning meeting and report. D.E. 17. The parties
consented to referral to a Magistrate Judge, and on June 15,
2018, the case was assigned to the undersigned for all
purposes, including trial and judgment. D.E. 18, 19.
30, 2019, Defendant Payne filed the motion for summary
judgment now under consideration. D.E. 32. Plaintiff
responded in opposition. D.E. 34. No. timely reply was filed.
Payne argues that, although Plaintiff raises a claim of
intentional interference with contractual relations,
“he cannot prove a contract ever existed” between
himself and the SCAAA. D.E. 32-1 at 1.
Standards for Summary Judgment
Court recognizes that Plaintiff is proceeding pro
se, without the assistance of an attorney. The Court
construes pro se filings more leniently than filings
prepared by lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007); Castro v. United States, 540 U.S.
375, 381-83 (2003).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), summary judgment is
proper if “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.” See, e.g.,
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23
(1986). The Court must assume the truth of the non-moving
party's evidence, and draw all inferences in a light most
favorable to the non-moving party (here, Plaintiff).
Mullins v. Cyranek, 805 F.3d 760, 765 (6th Cir.
2015); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 255 (1986). If there is sufficient evidence for a
trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, a genuine
dispute of material fact exists and summary judgment may not
issue. Mullins, 805 F.3d at 765. “The ultimate
question is ‘whether the evidence presents a sufficient