United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
LAURENCE CHARLES SAUERS, III, “TREY”, LAURENCE CHARLES SAUERS, II, and CAROL JONES SAUERS, Plaintiffs,
WINSTON-SALEM/FORSYTH COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, JULIA EDMONDS, individually and in her official capacity, KAYE HUNTER, individually and in Her official capacity, BRAD ROYAL, individually and in his official capacity, ELLEN WESTON, individually and in her official capacity, KARA RICHARDSON, individually and in her official capacity, MARY TODD ALLEN, individually and in her official capacity, TINA RAMSEY, individually and in her official capacity, SAM DEMPSEY, individually and in his official capacity, GRETCHEN TROUTMAN, individually and in her official capacity, JONATHAN L. GARWOOD, individually and in his official capacity, MORGAN C. THETEROW, individually and in her official capacity, MARTHA C. TEDROW, individually and in her official capacity, and DR. KENNETH SIMINGTON, individually and in his official capacity, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
OSTEEN, JR., District Judge
before this court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
Defendants Julia Edmonds, Kaye Hunter, Ellen Weston, Kara
Richardson, Tina Ramsey, Gretchen Troutman, Jonathan L.
Garwood, and Martha C. Tedrow (collectively the “School
Defendants”), (Doc. 71), to which Plaintiffs have
responded, (Doc. 78), and the School Defendants have replied,
(Doc. 81). Further, the School Defendants have filed a
related Motion to Strike, (Doc. 79), to which Plaintiffs have
responded, (Doc. 85), and School Defendants have replied,
(Doc. 86). These motions are ripe for adjudication and for
the reasons stated herein, this court will grant the School
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment as well as their
Motion to Strike in part.
motion to dismiss stage, this court dismissed all claims
pending against the School Defendants with the exception of
Plaintiff Laurence Charles Sauers, III
(“Trey”)'s negligent infliction of emotional
distress (“NIED”) claim,  which was dismissed on
public officer immunity grounds against School Defendants
Mary Todd Allen, Sam Dempsey, Brad Royal, and Dr. Kenneth
Simington, but remains pending as to School Defendants
Julia Edmonds, Kaye Hunter, Ellen Weston, Kara Richardson,
Tina Ramsey, Gretchen Troutman, Jonathan Garwood, and Martha
Tedrow. Sauers v. Winston-Salem/Forsyth Cty. Bd. of
Educ., 179 F.Supp.3d 544, 559 (M.D. N.C. 2016).
judgment is appropriate where an examination of the
pleadings, affidavits, and other proper discovery materials
before the court demonstrates that no genuine issue of
material facts exists, thus entitling the moving party to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The
moving party bears the burden of initially demonstrating the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477
U.S. at 323.
moving party has met that burden, then the nonmoving party
must persuade the court that a genuine issue remains for
trial. However, this requires “more than simply
show[ing] that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the
material facts”; the “nonmoving party must come
forward with ‘specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial.'” Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87
(1986) (citations and footnote omitted) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
56). “‘A party asserting that a fact . . . is
genuinely disputed must support the assertion by citing to
particular parts of materials in the record . . . .'
‘Conclusory or speculative allegations do not
suffice' to oppose a properly supported motion for
summary judgment, ‘nor does a mere scintilla of
evidence.'” Matherly v. Andrews, 859 F.3d
264, 280 (4th Cir.) (citations omitted), cert. denied, ___
U.S. ___, 138 S.Ct. 399 (2017).
considering a motion for summary judgment, the court is not
to weigh the evidence, but rather must determine whether
there is a genuine dispute as to a material issue.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250
(1986). Further, the court must ensure that the facts it
considers can be “presented in a form that would be
admissible in evidence” and that any affidavits or
evidence used to support or oppose a motion are “made
on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible
in evidence, and show that the affiant or declarant is
competent to testify on the matters stated.” See
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2), (4).
court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party, drawing inferences favorable to that party
if such inferences are reasonable. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.
However, there must be more than a factual dispute; the fact
in question must be material, and the dispute must be
genuine. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A
dispute is only “genuine” if “the evidence
is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
court noted at the motion to dismiss stage: “[I]n order
to state a claim for negligent infliction of emotional
distress, a plaintiff ‘must allege that (1) the
defendant negligently engaged in conduct, (2) it was
reasonably foreseeable that such conduct would cause the
plaintiff severe emotional distress . . ., and (3) the
conduct did in fact cause the plaintiff severe emotional
distress.'” Sauers, 179 F.Supp.3d at 554 (quoting
Ennett v. Cumberland Cty. Bd. of Educ., 698
F.Supp.2d 557, 560 (E.D. N.C. 2010)). This court will grant
the School Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment as
Plaintiff has failed to present facts to support a finding
that the conduct of the School Defendants did in fact cause
Plaintiff severe emotional distress. See Wells v.
Liddy, 186 F.3d 505, 520 (4th Cir. 1999) (“Summary
judgment is appropriate when a party, who would bear the
burden on the issue at trial, does not forecast evidence
sufficient to establish an essential element of the case . .
. .”); Glenn v. Johnson, ___ N.C.App. ___,
___, 787 S.E.2d 65, 70 (2016) (“[S]ummary judgment in
favor of defendants on the NIED claim is proper where the
evidence does not establish negligence by defendants or
establishes that the alleged negligent conduct was not the
foreseeable and proximate cause of plaintiff's severe
third element of the NIED claim for which Plaintiff must
forecast evidence is that “the conduct did in fact
cause the plaintiff severe emotional distress.” See
Sauers, 179 F.Supp.3d at 554 (quoting Ennett v.
Cumberland Cty. Bd. of Educ., 698 F.Supp.2d 557, 560
(E.D. N.C. 2010)). Plaintiff contends that there is a
“genuine issue of material fact as to whether the
Individual Defendants' conduct in fact did cause
Plaintiff Trey extreme emotional distress.” (Pls.'
Resp. in Opp'n to Def. Winston-Salem Forsyth Cty. Board
of Educ.'s Resp. to Pls.' Mot. for Summ. J.
(“Pls.' Resp.”) (Doc. 78) at
In support of this position, Plaintiff cites to three pieces
of evidence: (1) his expert disclosures; (2) an expert report
of Dr. Andrew P. Smiler; and (3) an expert report of Dr.
Doreen L. Hughes. (Id., Ex. 7, Pl.'s Expert
Disclosures (Doc. 78-8); Ex. 9, Letter from Dr. Smiler (Doc.
78-10); Ex. 8, Consultation Report (Doc. 78-9).) Defendants
have moved to strike all three of these documents. (Mem. in
Supp. of Individual Sch. Defs.' Mot. to Strike
(“Defs.' Mot. to Strike Mem.”) (Doc. 80) at
8-9.) Because a determination of whether Plaintiff has
presented facts that may be considered in determining this
motion, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1), the court accordingly
considers the pertinent motion to strike as an initial
matter. For purposes of this summary judgment motion, the
relevant motion to strike relates to Dr. Hughes, Dr. Smiler,
and Plaintiff's Expert Disclosures, as Plaintiff alleges
these facts as establishing the third element.
Motion to Strike Expert Reports
School Defendants assert that, while Dr. Hughes was disclosed
as a possible expert witness, Dr. Smiler was not. (Defs.'
Mot. to Strike Mem. (Doc. 80) at 9.) The School Defendants
further contend that ...