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Jones v.

Clinton, Ferguson

Jones v. Clinton
.United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas,Western 990 F. Supp. 657, 76 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. (BNA) 589, 75 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 45, 760 (1998) SUSAN WEBBER WRIGHT, District Judge. MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER The plaintiff in this lawsuit, Paula Corbin Jones, seeks civil damages from William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States, and Danny Ferguson, a former Arkansas State Police Officer, for alleged actions beginning with an incident in a hotel suite in Little Rock, Arkansas. This case was previously before the Supreme Court of the United States to resolve the issue of Presidential immunity but was remanded to this Court following the Supreme Court's determination that there is no constitutional impediment to allowing plaintiff's case to proceed while the President is in office. See Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 117 S.Ct. 1636, 137 L.Ed.2d 945 (1997). Following remand, the President filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissal of the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Ferguson joined in the President's motion. By Memorandum Opinion and Order dated August 22, 1997, this Court granted in part and denied in part the President's motion. See Jones v. Clinton, 974 F.Supp. 712 (E.D.Ark.1997). The Court dismissed plaintiff's defamation claim against the President, dismissed her due process claim for deprivation of a property interest in her State employment, and dismissed her due process claims for deprivation of a liberty interest based on false imprisonment and injury to reputation, but concluded that the remaining claims in plaintiff's complaint stated viable causes of action. See id. Plaintiff subsequently obtained new counsel and filed a motion for leave to file a first amended complaint, which the Court granted, albeit with several qualifications. See Order of November 24, 1997. The matter is now before the Court on motion of both the President and Ferguson for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff has responded in opposition to these motions, and the President and Ferguson have each filed a reply to plaintiff's response to their motions. For the reasons that follow, the Court finds that the President's and Ferguson's motions for summary judgment should both be and hereby are granted. I. This lawsuit is based on an incident that is said to have taken place on the afternoon of May 8, 1991, in a suite at the Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas. President Clinton was Governor of the State of Arkansas at the time, and plaintiff was a State employee with the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission (“AIDC”), having begun her State employment on March 11, 1991. Ferguson was an Arkansas State Police officer assigned to the Governor's security detail. According to the record, then-Governor Clinton was at the Excelsior Hotel on the day in question delivering a speech at an official conference being sponsored by the AIDC. Am. Compl. 7. Plaintiff states that she and another AIDC employee, Pamela Blackard, were working at a registration desk for the AIDC when a man approached the desk and informed her and Blackard

left the registration desk to return to the Governor.” Ferguson Depo.'s Statement of Mat.'s Statement of Mat. Upon leaving the registration desk.4 He states that “some time later” the Governor asked him to “get him a room. Facts. She states she was extremely upset and confused and. there was nothing intimidating. or coercive about it. Thinking that it was an honor to be asked to meet the Governor and that it might lead to an enhanced employment opportunity. P 3. Id. Facts.'s Statement of Mat.” and asked him to go to the car and get his briefcase containing the phone messages. among other things. The conversation between plaintiff. at 50. P 17. but that the Governor approached her again and. so that their bodies were close to each other. and pulled her toward him. Compl. at 226-27. Pl. while saying. President's Depo. at 237-38.'s Depo.'s Depo. Facts. and Ferguson talked about what the Governor could want and that Ferguson stated. during which Ferguson states the Governor remarked that plaintiff had “that come-hither look. She states that a few minutes of small talk ensued.. and closed the door. Clinton. had several phone calls that he needed to make.” and “escaped” from the Governor's reach “by walking away from him. Ferguson that he was Trooper Danny Ferguson. took her hand. all without her consent. Pl. Facts. Blackard.e.” Pl. that he was expecting a call from the White House and . Id. was his “good friend. Pl. PP 7-8. P 8. invited her in. Compl. delivered a piece of paper to her with a four-digit number written on it. She states that she. the Governor shook her hand. Facts. the Governor's bodyguard.Jones v. Plaintiff states that the Governor then “unexpectedly reached over to [her]. friendly banter. at 237. P 2.” Pl. Ferguson Depo. Ferguson apparently had a conversation with the Governor about the possibility of meeting with plaintiff. P 9.” told the Governor that she was “not that kind of girl. Facts. 4 .” Pl. Pl. “a sort of [sexually] suggestive appearance from the look or dress. Plaintiff states that Ferguson later reappeared at the registration desk. and Ferguson lasted approximately five minutes and consisted of light. at 50. 67. P 6. plaintiff's ultimate superior within the AIDC and a Clinton appointee.'s Statement of Mat. “What are you doing?. Plaintiff states that she exclaimed. at 101.'s Statement of Mat. at 50.'s Statement of Mat. PP 9-10. Plaintiff states that upon arriving at the suite and announcing herself. and said that the Governor would like to meet with her in this suite number. She states that Ferguson made small talk with her and Blackard and that they asked him if he had a gun as he was in street clothes and they “wanted to know.'s Depo. P 11. at 101. started sliding it toward her pelvic area. she could “come up. Pl.'s Depo. plaintiff states that she agreed to the meeting and that Ferguson escorted her to the floor of the hotel upon which the Governor's suite was located.” Id.'s Depo. She states she removed her hand from his and retreated several feet. Am..” Id. at 109. Facts.” Id. threatening. Pl. which included the Governor asking her about her job and him mentioning that Dave Harrington. PP 1-2. Pl. Pl. and bent down to attempt to kiss her on the neck. Pl.. Ferguson states that plaintiff informed him that she would like to meet the Governor. at 50. “We do this all the time. remarking that she thought the Governor “was good-looking [and] had sexy hair.'s Statement of Mat. the Governor told him that if plaintiff wanted to meet him. not FN4.” put his hand on her leg. Ferguson acknowledged that he did and. “I love the way your hair flows down your back” and “I love your curves. Blackard. Ferguson states that upon obtaining the room. Am. while plaintiff states that Ferguson asked her if she would like to meet the Governor and that she was “excited” about the possibility.” Ferguson Depo.” i. PP 11-13. after being asked to show the gun to them.

Compl. She states that when the Governor referred to Dave Harrington. at 108. ¶ 15.” and that she appeared scared. Cathey Depo.'s Depo. she was “very fearful” that her refusal to submit to the Governor's advances could damage her career and even jeopardize her employment. the Governor “detained” her momentarily. Pl. P 21. Cathey. Brown's observations of plaintiff's demeanor apparently are not included in the record. at 52. Id. Charlotte Corbin Brown. plaintiff states she told her sister.” Id. and ashamed. Ferguson states that five or ten minutes after plaintiff exited the suite he joined the Governor for their return to the Governor's Mansion and that the Governor. Lydia Corbin Cathey. have Dave call me immediately and I'll take care of it. Ferguson Depo.'s Statement of Mat. saying something to the effect that she had to get back to the registration desk. Plaintiff states that she sat down at the end of the sofa nearest the door. “She came up here. Clinton. she was in shock and upset but tried to maintain her composure. Harrington and over her job. Id. and that he was willing to use that power. that she never said or did anything to suggest to the Governor that she was willing to have sex with him. P 20. Later that same day. She states she saw Ferguson waiting outside the suite but that he did not escort her back to the registration desk and nothing was said between them.. within the next two days. said.Jones v. she resisted his advances although she was “stunned by them and intimidated by who he was. Facts.'s Statement of Mat. “You are smart. She states in her deposition that the Governor's specific words to her were. Am. Let's keep this between ourselves. 6 She states that she was “horrified” by this and that she “jumped up from the couch” and told the Governor that she had to go. Pl. Ballentine states that plaintiff was upset and crying. Facts.” Id. Plaintiff states in her amended complaint that the Governor “asked” her to “kiss it” rather than telling her to do so. Id. who was working on some papers that he had spread out on the desk. “If you get in trouble for leaving work. Plaintiff states that the Governor's advances to her were unwelcome. “Well. attempted to distract the Governor by chatting about his wife. Ballentine Depo. Facts. Id. P 12. Plaintiff states that the Governor.” Id.” said. at 48. P 13. also told her other sister. Blackard states that plaintiff was shaking and embarrassed. at 94. 6 . P 14. Id. Debra Ballentine.” Pl. states that plaintiff was “bawling” and “squalling. what had happened and.'s Statement of Mat. and that during the time they were together in the hotel suite.’ ” Id. I don't want to make you do anything you don't want to do. Following the Conference. at 63. and said.” and then pulled up his pants and said. “Would you kiss it for me?” Pl. however. of the incident. as he sat down. and told her of the incident as well. Id. Ferguson knowing what to do. ¶ 16. “while fondling his penis. Blackard Depo. embarrassed. Pl. She states that as she left the room (the door of which was not locked). at 68. but that the Governor approached the sofa where she had taken a seat and. FN6. “looked sternly” at her.'s Depo. P 11. P 18. and nothing happened. plaintiff states she went to the workplace of a friend. she “understood that he was telling her that he had control over Mr. “lowered his trousers and underwear. Plaintiff states she returned to the registration desk and told Blackard some of what had happened. 96-97. She states that from that point on. Plaintiff states that when she left the hotel suite.” Id. exposed his penis (which was erect) and told [her] to ‘kiss it.

three of which remain at issue. Plaintiff states that she again encountered Ferguson following her return to work from maternity leave and that he said he had “told Bill how good looking you are since you've had the baby.” Id. Thereafter. pulled her close to him and held her tightly to his body. but that the President responded to her request for an apology by having his press spokespersons deliver a statement on his behalf that the incident never happened and that he never met plaintiff. See Jones. “Clinton told me you wouldn't do anything anyway. at an event attended by the media.Supp. 1993. Compl. One of her duties was to deliver documents to and from the Office of the Governor. as well as other offices around the Arkansas State Capitol. even though she had never told Ferguson or the Governor his name. “Don't we make a beautiful couple: Beauty and the Beast?” Id. at 50. Plaintiff continued to work at AIDC following the alleged incident in the hotel suite. Id. but that plaintiff declined. Plaintiff additionally states that on an unspecified date.” and said to his bodyguard. . She states that in January 1994.'s Depo. P 24. 1997. Facts. while visiting family and friends in Arkansas. Id. who had been transferred. “How are you doing. Plaintiff voluntarily terminated her employment with AIDC on February 20. plaintiff states that she publicly asked President Clinton to acknowledge the incident mentioned in the article in The American Spectator.'s Statement of Mat. and to apologize to her. . at 244-45…. 712. and in a “friendly fashion” said. . Plaintiff's amended complaint contains several claims. Plaintiff states that she also encountered Ferguson in a restaurant during this same time and that he indicated he was the source for the article and that he knew she had refused the Governor's alleged advances because. Paula. and that this “frightened” her. plaintiff filed this lawsuit. at 48.'s Statement of Mat. She states that in June 1991. he said. P 19. Clinton. The third is a state law claim in which plaintiff asserts a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress or outrage against . 1994. P 23. Id. On February 11. Compl. P 35.” Id. she encountered Ferguson who told her that Mrs. was doing. she was informed of an article in The American Spectator magazine that she claims referred to her alleged encounter with the Governor at the Excelsior Hotel and incorrectly suggested that she had engaged in sexual relations with the Governor. Ferguson Ballentine states that she encouraged plaintiff to report the incident to her boss or to the police. in order to move to California with her husband. P 25. Facts.Jones v. Pl. Order of November 24. Plaintiff states she refused to provide her phone number to Ferguson.” Id. to state that she had rejected his advances. Pl. Pl. Ballentine further states that plaintiff stated she did not want her fiancé to know of the incident and that she “just want[ed] this thing to go away. on May 6. Paula?” Pl. Am. Id. PP 47-48. while performing these duties for the AIDC. P 40. Ballentine Depo. P 33. Plaintiff states that what the Governor and Ferguson had said and done made her “afraid” to file charges. Clinton was out of town often and that the Governor wanted her phone number and wanted to see her. She states that Ferguson also asked her how her fiancé. 974 F. Id. patted her on the shoulder. P 22. pointing out that her boss was friends with the Governor and that the police were the ones who took her to the hotel suite. 1994. Steve. Am. She also states that she was “accosted” by the Governor in the Rotunda of the Arkansas State Capitol when he “draped his arm over her.'s Depo. she was waiting in the Governor's outer office on a delivery run when the Governor entered the office.

20 Arkansas recognizes a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress based on sexual harassment.W.(3) plaintiff's claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress or outrage fails because (a) by plaintiff's own testimony. 658 (1997). 51 F. Counce. 931 S. Younts. Croom v. Milam v. .” FN20. 157-59.2d 283. 743 S. 20 . 596 S. In M. Davis v.2d 244 (1992)). The President argues that the alleged conduct of which plaintiff complains was brief and isolated. 420 (1991).W.2d 418. 294 Ark. 326 Ark. Pirelli Cable Corp. we mean conduct that is so outrageous in character.g. The Court agrees.. . To establish a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress.W.W. a plaintiff must prove that: (1) the defendant intended to inflict emotional distress or knew or should have known that emotional distress was the likely result of his conduct. The President moves for summary judgment on the following grounds:. Walker. and he had no knowledge of any special condition of plaintiff that would render her particularly susceptible to distress. 239. 567. 68. 913 S. Ross v.1992) (citing Hale v. Inc. 342 (8th Cir. He argues that plaintiff has failed to identify the kind of clear cut proof that Arkansas courts require for a claim of outrage and that he is therefore entitled to summary judgment. did not result in any physical harm or objective symptoms of the requisite severe distress. . the conduct at issue does not constitute intentional infliction of emotional distress or outrage under Arkansas law. Cherepski v.3d 108. Ferguson Governor Clinton. 767 (1996).2d 380. 937 S. did not result in distress so severe that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it. Sterling Drug Inc. 981 F. and so extreme in degree.B. 43. 110 n. (2) the conduct was extreme and outrageous and utterly intolerable in a civilized community. Ladd. 280. Oxford. Hamaker v. 307 Ark. and (b) plaintiff did not as a result of the alleged conduct suffer emotional distress so severe that no reasonable person could endure it. 268 Ark.M. 382 (1988). 154. One is subject to liability for the tort of outrage or intentional infliction of emotional distress if he or she wilfully or wantonly causes severe emotional distress to another by extreme and outrageous conduct. Bank of Cabot. v. 105 (1988). (3) the defendant's conduct was the cause of the plaintiff's distress. 168. 269. 327 Ark. 2 (8th Cir. based primarily on the alleged incident at the hotel but also encompassing subsequent alleged acts. See. 817 S. Hollomon v.Jones v. and to be regarded as atrocious.2d 653.W. II. 913 S. . as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency. 687 (1980). 243-44.. the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress and the tort of outrage are essentially the same causes of action and are governed by the same standards. 415 (1996). 323 Ark. Keadle. 26466. 826 S. 256. v.2d 681. 308 Ark. Co.2d 761. 95. the Arkansas Supreme Court stated that “[b]y extreme and outrageous conduct. Patterson.W. the Court addresses plaintiff's state law claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress or outrage.2d 340.W.2d 413. See also Ingram v. Finally. Under Arkansas law. Clinton.. Ivy.W. 323 Ark. and (4) the plaintiff's emotional distress was so severe in nature that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it. 747 S. 70-71. Tri-State Mack Distribs. . 295 Ark..2d 103.W. . 170-71.1995). and utterly intolerable in civilized society. e. 286 (1996).

for Summ. coupled with a demand for oral sex by the most powerful man in the state against a very young. the relation between plaintiff and defendant. she continued to work at AIDC another nineteen months (leaving only because of her husband's job transfer). 127 F.Q. of between 75 and 100.Jones v. Clinton's outrageous conduct includes offensive language. J.” Doe v.3d 108 (no claim of outrage where plaintiff. and was abandoned as soon as plaintiff made clear that the advance was not welcome. “I didn't really care if it was dropped or not personally. The Court is not aware of any authority holding that such a sexual encounter or proposition of the type alleged in this case.2d at 287 (use of wine and medication by a vastly older relative to foist sex on a minor cousin went “beyond a mere sexual encounter” and offended all sense of decency). and actual exposure of an intimate private body part. at 261-62. notwithstanding the offensive nature of the Governor's alleged conduct. the conduct as alleged by plaintiff describes a mere sexual proposition or encounter. was “red-faced and angry.W. the period of time over which the conduct took place. The Arkansas courts take a strict approach and give a narrow view to claims of outrage. at 122. psychologist.” and that “[t]here are few more outrageous acts than a criminal sexual assault followed by unwanted exposure. Moreover. she never consulted a psychiatrist. She states that “Mr. 51 F.2d at 420. Clinton's Mot.” Pl. Manning. did not involve any coercion or threats of reprisal. 269 (8th Cir. that was relatively brief in duration. or incurred medical bills as a result of the alleged incident. While the Court will certainly agree that plaintiff's allegations describe offensive conduct. Croom. Cf. she continued to go on a daily basis to the Governor's Office to deliver items and never asked to be relieved of that duty.W. Ferguson Whether conduct is “extreme and outrageous” is determined by looking at “the conduct at issue. and she acknowledged the request to drop her claim of injury to reputation by stating. The tort is clearly not intended to provide legal redress for every slight insult or indignity that one must endure. she never filed a formal complaint or told her supervisors of the incident while at AIDC.3d at 111). 51 F. who had a speech impediment and an I. despite earlier claiming that she suffered marital discord and humiliation. Rather. Wright. has found that the Governor's alleged conduct does not constitute sexual assault. offensive touching (constituting sexual assault under both federal and state definitions).3d at 110). at 66 (emphasis in original). Clinton.'s Opp'n to Def. and defendant's knowledge that plaintiff is particularly susceptible to emotional distress by reason of some physical or mental peculiarity. gives rise to a claim of outrage. plaintiff admits that she never missed a day of work following the alleged incident.3d at 690 (citing Hamaker. 82 F. the Court.” had an . as previously noted. see Pl. 51 F. without more. low-level employee. 913 S. and merely describing conduct as outrageous does not make it so.'s Depo. Cf. Plaintiff seems to base her claim of outrage on her erroneous belief that the allegations she has presented are sufficient to constitute criminal sexual assault. an offensive proposition. Ross. 817 S.3d 265. see id..” Further.” Id. Plaintiff's actions and statements in this case do not portray someone who experienced emotional distress so severe in nature that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it. and she acknowledges that her two subsequent contacts with the Governor involved comments made “in a light vein” and nonsexual contact that was done in a “friendly fashion. albeit an odious one.1996) (citing Hamaker. plaintiff stated in her deposition that she was not claiming damages to her marriage as a result of the Governor's alleged conduct. Hamaker.

In concluding that there was no evidence of extreme emotional distress required to prevail on an outrage claim.” have caused plaintiff to suffer severe emotional distress and “consequent sexual aversion. Id. . as in Angle. in education and counseling. lack of sleep. . failed to present sufficient evidence of emotional distress). 93. Id. worry. Id. Carnes. Clinton. the opinions stated therein are vague and conclusory and. Patrick J.Jones v. the Court found it significant that none had seen a physician or mental health professional for these concerns.” and had trouble sleeping four days after incident involving “rather nasty” practical joke). 945 S. headache. Ferguson “increased heart rate and blood pressure. the Arkansas Supreme Court noted that absent physical harm. do not suffice to overcome plaintiff's failure of proof on her claim of outrage. the plaintiffs offered their own testimony that they had experienced emotional distress. Nevertheless. . In that case.” The Court does not credit this declaration. at 937 n. plaintiff submits a declaration from a purported expert with a Ph. 915 F. anger. Aside from other deficiencies with the Carnes' declaration (including the fact that the substance of this declaration apparently was not disclosed in accordance with rules governing pre-trial discovery).D. opines that her alleged encounter with Governor Clinton in 1991. Id.2d 933 (1997).Ark. and worry. Georgia-Pacific Corp. thoughts of death. Cf. after a 3. but little else. fear. at 936-37. 714. In sum.. . spoke to a psychologist. Alexander. 3. 328 Ark.5 hour meeting with plaintiff and her husband a mere four days prior to the filing of President Clinton's motion for summary judgment. In Angle v.” to overcome her failure of proof on this point.D. The Court did not allow the fact that one plaintiff “on the advice of her attorney. who. “and the ensuing events. 99 (W. plaintiff's allegations fall far short of the rigorous standards for establishing a claim of outrage under Arkansas law and the Court therefore grants the President's motion for summary judgment on this claim.1995) (affidavit prepared after opposing motion for summary judgment filed detailing symptoms of weight loss.Supp. courts look for more in the way of extreme outrage as an assurance that the mental disturbance claimed is not fictitious. Crenshaw v.W. and nausea.