Case: Nowacki v. Department of Corrections

11-00852 | Michigan state trial court

Filed Date: Aug. 1, 2011

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On August 1, 2011, Tom Nowacki filed this class action against the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) on behalf of himself and other male corrections officers who had allegedly been denied employment assignments and opportunities at women's correctional facilities on the basis of their sex, in violation of the Michigan Civil Rights Act. The suit was filed in Washtenaw County Circuit Court. The plaintiff sought monetary damages as well as injunctive and declaratory relief. Before this law…

On August 1, 2011, Tom Nowacki filed this class action against the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) on behalf of himself and other male corrections officers who had allegedly been denied employment assignments and opportunities at women's correctional facilities on the basis of their sex, in violation of the Michigan Civil Rights Act. The suit was filed in Washtenaw County Circuit Court. The plaintiff sought monetary damages as well as injunctive and declaratory relief. Before this lawsuit, MDOC had reached settlements with female inmates who alleged sexual abuse by male corrections officers. These settlements allegedly resulted in only female corrections officers being assigned to certain assignments at women's facilities.

On June 21, 2012, the court granted class certification. According to the August 2014 Michigan Court of Appeals decision cited below, the class consisted of approximately 80 male corrections officers who, like the plaintiff, had allegedly been denied work opportunities in women's prisons on the basis of their gender. In June 2013, following a year of discovery including multiple depositions, the parties filed motions for summary judgment. But on June 28, 2013, the suit was stayed while the defendant appealed the court's certification of the plaintiff's class.

On August 19, 2014, Judges Saad, Owens, and Kelly of the Michigan Court of Appeals issued a per curiam opinion holding that the lower court had not erred in granting the plaintiff's class certification. 2014 WL 4088041. On September 19, 2014, the defendant appealed the Court of Appeals' decisions to the Michigan Supreme Court. The Michigan Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal in a one-sentence order issued July 1, 2015.

On remand to the trial court, the defendant successfully moved to have the plaintiff's equitable and declaratory claims transferred to the Michigan Court of Claims. Because the adjudication of the equitable and declaratory claims would require a delay of the suit for damages, the plaintiff moved to voluntarily dismiss the equitable and declaratory claims, submitting that its primary objective was money damages. The Court of Claims granted the plaintiff's motion, and the defendant appealed the granting of the voluntary dismissal to the Michigan Court of Appeals.

On March 14, 2017, the Michigan Court of Appeals (Judges Krause, O'Connell, and Meter) affirmed the Court of Claims' grant of the plaintiff's motion for voluntary dismissal of the equitable and declaratory claims, and the case proceeded towards a trial for money damages in Washtenaw County Circuit Court. On remand, the plaintiff filed for summary judgment, but the motion was denied and the Michigan Court of Appeals declined to hear an appeal.

A jury trial in the case was scheduled for March 25, 2019 and the case is ongoing.

Summary Authors

Nathaniel Flack (2/4/2019)

People


Judge(s)

Bernstein, Richard H. (Michigan)

Boonstra, Mark T (Michigan)

Brown, Archie C. (Michigan)

Hoekstra, Joel P. (Michigan)

Kelly, Mary Beth (Michigan)

Markman, Stephen J. (Michigan)

McCormack, Bridget (Michigan)

Owens, Donald S. (Michigan)

Saad, Henry William (Michigan)

Sawyer, David H. (Michigan)

Judge(s)

Bernstein, Richard H. (Michigan)

Boonstra, Mark T (Michigan)

Brown, Archie C. (Michigan)

Hoekstra, Joel P. (Michigan)

Kelly, Mary Beth (Michigan)

Markman, Stephen J. (Michigan)

McCormack, Bridget (Michigan)

Owens, Donald S. (Michigan)

Saad, Henry William (Michigan)

Sawyer, David H. (Michigan)

Shapiro, Douglas B. (Michigan)

Swartz, David Scott (Michigan)

Young, Robert P. Jr. (Michigan)

Zahra, Brian K. (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Fett, James K. (Michigan)

Kent-Bryant, Robert D (Michigan)

Lenhoff, Glen L. (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Grossi, Christina M. (Michigan)

Miller, Jeanmarie (Michigan)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

Nowacki v. Michigan Department of Corrections

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

July 15, 2015 Docket

Docket

Nowacki v. Michigan Department of Corrections

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Dec. 6, 2017 Docket

Docket

Nowacki v. Michigan Department of Corrections

Oct. 31, 2018 Docket

Order

Michigan state appellate court

June 25, 2013 Order/Opinion

Opinion

Michigan state appellate court

2014 WL 4088041

Aug. 19, 2014 Order/Opinion

Order

Michigan state supreme court

2015 WL 4042260

Aug. 19, 2014 Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link

15-000154-MZ C/COC/MI 2/4/2019 6:37:48 PM Page: 1 of 10

15-000154-MZ C/COC/MI 2/4/2019 6:37:48 PM Page: 2 of 10

15-000154-MZ C/COC/MI 2/4/2019 6:37:48 PM Page: 3 of 10

15-000154-MZ C/COC/MI 2/4/2019 6:37:48 PM Page: 4 of 10

15-000154-MZ C/COC/MI 2/4/2019 6:37:48 PM Page: 5 of 10

15-000154-MZ C/COC/MI 2/4/2019 6:37:48 PM Page: 6 of 10

15-000154-MZ C/COC/MI 2/4/2019 6:37:48 PM Page: 7 of 10

15-000154-MZ C/COC/MI 2/4/2019 6:37:48 PM Page: 8 of 10

15-000154-MZ C/COC/MI 2/4/2019 6:37:48 PM Page: 9 of 10

15-000154-MZ C/COC/MI 2/4/2019 6:37:48 PM Page: 10 of 10

State / Territory: Michigan

Case Type(s):

Equal Employment

Key Dates

Filing Date: Aug. 1, 2011

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Male corrections officer alleging discrimination for denial of employment at women's correctional facility.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Michigan Department of Corrections, State

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State Anti-Discrimination Law

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

None yet

Source of Relief:

None yet

Issues

General:

Disparate Impact

Disparate Treatment

Discrimination-area:

Hiring

Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)

Discrimination-basis:

Sex discrimination

Affected Gender:

Male