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Phillips v. Yeubanks

United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma

September 13, 2019

MELISSA PHILLIPS, Plaintiff,
v.
RONALD YEUBANKS, Defendant.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION

          KIMBERLY E WEST UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Application for Default Judgment (Docket Entry #12). This Application was referred to the undersigned on January 8, 2019 for “hearing and Findings and Recommendation” by United States District Judge Ronald A. White, the judge presiding over this case.

         On January 24, 2019, this Court conducted a hearing on Plaintiff's Motion. Counsel for Plaintiff appeared and Defendant did not. Originally, the action was brought by Plaintiff on December 19, 2017 acting pro se. Although not entirely a picture of clarity, Plaintiff alleged in the Complaint that she and Defendant entered into an agreement for Plaintiff to assume a contract for the rental and sale of real property should her godchildren default until they fully paid for the property. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant breached the contract by allowing “someone else to compete for the contract when the goddaughter was not even in default trying to steal the contract they had out from under them.” Plaintiff also alleged Defendant breached a contract by forcing her to sign under duress, failing to evict squatters form the property, lying about the house having insurance on it and refusing to pay for insurance on the home.

         In a third count, Plaintiff again alleged a breach of contract by Defendant by wrongfully declaring Plaintiff's godchildren in default and trying to solicit another woman to enter into a contract on the property and voiding the agreement with the godchildren.

         Plaintiff also alleged that Defendant slandered and defamed her “to her godchildren and other people” by stating she did not have a contract with Defendant and making “derogatory comments about [P]laintiff.” She alleged Defendant “slander[ed] her right to the property by allowing another person to believe with his deceptive actions that he did not have a contract with the property.”

         Plaintiff alleged Defendant engaged in a battery against her by acting “very inappropriately flirtatious” and touching her, causing her to push him off of her. In another meeting with Plaintiff, Defendant put his hands on her, touched her breast, and grabbed her wrist when she attempted to push him away.

         Plaintiff claims Defendant intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon her by threatening to turn off the gas to the home in attempting to get her godchildren to pay more money to lease the property. She also asserted a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress in the manner in which Defendant treated she and her godchildren “at a time of severe grief of the loss of her friend and children grieving their mother, [and Plaintiff's] lifelong friend.”

         Plaintiff also brought a claim for fraud against Defendant, alleging that she signed an agreement to pay the gas bill if the squatters occupying the house were evicted by Defendant. Defendant allegedly asked the squatters to pay the gas bill and suggested that they would get more time before they would be required to leave. Plaintiff claimed “[i]t is fraud to try to get money from multiple parties for the same utility bills.”

         In her final claim, Plaintiff contends Defendant engaged in sexual harassment and discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act by voiding the contract with Plaintiff and Plaintiff's godchildren. The violations were allegedly manifested in Defendant's flirting, unwanted touching, groping, and engaging in inappropriate comments concerning dating Plaintiff. Plaintiff sought “punitive, compensatory and general damages in the amount of 300 thousand dollars requested or as jury sees fit” as well as injunctive relief.

         On June 27, 2018, after Plaintiff filed a motion seeking a default judgment, the Clerk of this Court entered an Entry of Default. In doing so, he stated that the record indicated Defendant was served with the Summons and Complaint on January 3, 2018 and had failed to plead or otherwise defend as directed by the Summons. He, therefore, granted Plaintiff's Motion for Entry of Default in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff failed to seek a default judgment from the Court, precipitating the entry of an Order on November 16, 2018 requiring Plaintiff to show cause in writing and apply for a default judgment or risk the dismissal of the case for the failure to prosecute. On December 7, 2018, Mr. Caleb Salmon entered an appearance as counsel for Plaintiff, responded to the show cause order, and filed a Motion for Default Judgment. On January 8, 2019, United States District Judge Ronald A. White, who presides over this case, referred the subject Motion to the undersigned for a hearing and the entry of Findings and a Recommendation.

         At the hearing set and conducted by this Court, Plaintiff testified that Defendant approached her about assuming the contract in November of 2017. Defendant lived outside of Coffeyville, Kansas and Plaintiff was traveling to Kansas for a funeral so she met with Defendant in his office. No. harassment allegedly occurred at that time. Defendant asked Plaintiff to assume the contract on the house if her godchildren defaulted on payments. The agreement between Plaintiff and Defendant resulted.

         In subsequent meetings with Defendant, Plaintiff stated she was “uncomfortable.” Defendant was angry because he could not get into the house. He became flirtatious with Plaintiff and her godchildren. After the parties met to discuss revisions to the agreement and to sign it, Plaintiff testified that Defendant touched her breast and grabbed her bottom. Defendant made comments about her appearance, slapped Plaintiff's 21 year old goddaughter on the bottom.

         After the godchildren's mother died, Plaintiff testified they began have problems with Defendant over the agreement. Because she felt uncomfortable and believed Defendant was trying to get out of the agreement with she and her godchildren, Plaintiff started recording her encounters with Defendant. In a subsequent meeting, Plaintiff stated ...


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