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Jane Doe v. Sammy Hagar

April 30, 2013

JANE DOE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SAMMY HAGAR, DEFENDANT.



ORDER

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 III. SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 IV. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 V. RELEVANT FACTUAL BACKGROUND. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 VI. ANALYSIS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 A. Defamation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 1. Applicable law. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 2. Application. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 a. Libel per se.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 b. Libel per quod.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 c. Summary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 B. False Light Invasion of Privacy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 1. Applicable law. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 2. Application. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 C. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 1. Applicable law. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 2. Application. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 D. Breach of Contract. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 1. Applicable law. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 2. Application. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 E. Breach of Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing.. . . . . 30 1. Applicable law. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 2. Application. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 VII. CONCLUSION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

I. INTRODUCTION

The matter before the court is Defendant Sammy Hagar's "Motion for Summary Judgment" ("Motion") (docket no. 86).

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On October 5, 2011, Plaintiff Jane Doe filed a Petition ("Complaint") in the District Court for Black Hawk County, Iowa, Case No. LACV117286. Complaint (docket no. 2-1). In the Complaint, Doe alleges seven claims against Hagar: (1) breach of contract (Count I); (2) breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing (Count II); (3) negligent infliction of emotional distress (Count III); (4) intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count IV); (5) false light invasion of privacy (Count V); (6) defamation (Count VI); and (7) punitive damages (Count VII). On October 27, 2011, Hagar removed this action to this court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Notice of Removal (docket no. 2). On November 29, 2011, Hagar filed an Answer (docket no. 16) to the Complaint, denying Doe's claims and asserting affirmative defenses.

On January 28, 2013, Hagar filed the Motion. On that same date, Hagar filed a Statement of Material Facts (docket no. 86-1). On February 27, 2013, Doe filed a Resistance (docket no. 109). On that same date, Doe filed a Response to Hagar's Statement of Material Facts (docket no. 109-1) and a Statement of Additional Material Facts (docket no. 109-2). On March 1, 2013, Hagar filed a Reply (docket no. 110-2). On that same date, Hagar filed a Response to Doe's Statement of Additional Material Facts (docket no. 110).

In the Motion, Hagar requests the opportunity to present oral argument. The court finds that oral argument is unnecessary. The Motion is fully submitted and ready for decision.

III. SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION

The court has diversity jurisdiction over this case because complete diversity exists between the parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332 ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between . . . citizens of different States . . . .").

Doe is an individual residing in Waterloo, Iowa, and is a citizen of Iowa. Hagar is an individual residing in Marin County, California, and is a citizen of California. The parties do not dispute that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. Therefore, the court is satisfied that it has subject matter jurisdiction over the dispute.

IV. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). "A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that it could cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party; a fact is material if its resolution affects the outcome of the case." Amini v. City of Minneapolis, 643 F.3d 1068, 1074 (8th Cir. 2011) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 252 (1986)), cert. denied, 132 S. Ct. 1144 (2012). "[S]elf-serving allegations and denials are insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact." Anuforo v. Comm'r, 614 F.3d 799, 807 (8th Cir. 2010). "To survive a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must substantiate [its] allegations with sufficient probative evidence [that] would permit a finding in [its] favor based on more than mere speculation, conjecture, or fantasy." Barber v. C1 Truck Driver Training, LLC, 656 F.3d 782, 801 (8th Cir. 2011) (second alteration in original) (quoting Putman v. Unity Health Sys., 348 F.3d 732, 733-34 (8th Cir. 2003)) (internal quotation marks omitted). The court must view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and afford it all reasonable inferences. See Schmidt v. Des Moines Pub. Sch., 655 F.3d 811, 819 (8th Cir. 2011).

V. RELEVANT FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Doe and affording her all reasonable inferences, the uncontested material facts are as follows:

From 1982 to 1985, Doe was a Playboy bunny in Lansing, Michigan. In 1983, Doe met Hagar, a musician best known as the lead singer for Van Halen, after attending one of Hagar's concerts. Doe became acquainted with Hagar and some of Hagar's bandmates and was often invited to attend Hagar's concerts.

Doe and Hagar had a sexual relationship that began, to the best of Doe's recollection, in 1984 and was carried on intermittently through 1988. In 1985, Doe moved to New York City. In June 1988, Doe attended a Van Halen concert in Detroit, Michigan. That evening, Doe had intercourse with Hagar. Doe then became pregnant. Sometime within the three-month period after the Detroit concert, Doe called Ed Leffler, Hagar's manager, to tell him that she was pregnant and that she believed that Hagar was the father. Hagar believed that his wife would become upset if she learned about Hagar's affair with Doe and, thus, he hoped to keep the affair private. Doe's close friends and family knew about her relationship with Hagar and that Doe believed that Hagar had impregnated her.

Doe hired a lawyer who began negotiating an agreement on behalf of Doe with Hagar whereby Doe would keep the affair confidential and, in return, Hagar would pay some of Doe's living expenses. On September 27, 1988, Doe's lawyer sent a letter to Hagar proposing that Hagar's lawyer contact her so that they could negotiate an agreement and stating that, if Hagar did not respond "within a reasonable time, [Doe would] have no other option but to commence litigation." September 27, 1988 letter, Doe App'x (docket no. 109-3 through 109-12) at 359. On November 11, 1988, Hagar's counsel sent Doe a letter enclosing a copy of the proposed agreement and indicating that Hagar would send Doe $2,000 once Doe signed the agreement. November 11, 1988 letter, Doe App'x at 374.

On February 17, 1989, Doe and Hagar entered into the Agreement. Agreement, Doe App'x at 13-23. The Agreement states that Doe is pregnant and alleges that Hagar is the father. Specifically, the Agreement included the following:

1. Payments. [Hagar] shall pay [Doe] the following monies:

(a) The sum of Five Hundred ($500.00) Dollars per week commencing with the week beginning October 3, 1988, and terminating as set forth below, provided, however, that all such weekly payments thereby payable for the period commencing October 3, 1988 until the date hereof are being paid simultaneously with the execution of this Agreement and the receipt of such payment is hereby acknowledged by [Doe]. The weekly payments due prospectively hereunder shall commence on the execution of this Agreement . . . . Such weekly payments shall terminate upon the occurrence of the earliest of any of the following: (i) the issuance by the laboratory of the results of the four (4) Tests to be performed under Paragraph 4 hereof; (ii) six (6) months after the date of the birth of the Prospective Child, with such birth, and date thereof, to be confirmed to [Hagar] by notice to him to such effect within 10 days after such birth; (iii) a miscarriage; (iv) a stillbirth; (v) any other termination of [Doe's] pregnancy; or (vi) any further disclosure, as referred to in Paragraph 3 hereof, that [Hagar] is the father of the Prospective Child.

(b) The sum of Three Thousand Seven Hundred ($3,700) Dollars representing the balance of [Doe's] physician's fee for medical services through the delivery of the Prospective Child . . .

(c) The sum of Two Thousand ($2,000) Dollars which represents payment in full for [Doe's] legal fee expenses in connection with [Doe's] representation regarding the negotiation and consummation of this Agreement and any related agreement(s) up to the time of the birth of the Prospective Child . . . .

3. Non-disclosure.

(a) [Doe] covenants and agrees that she will not disclose, or cause, directly or indirectly any other party to disclose, beyond the disclosure referred to in subpart (c) of this Paragraph, her belief that [Hagar] is the father of the Prospective Child until the earliest of the following events:

i) The results of the Tests have been received.

ii) 33 weeks after the birth of the Prospective Child, whether or not the Test results have been received and/or whether the Tests were taken; provided that [Doe] has not refused to submit to the Tests . . . in which event [Doe's] obligation not to disclose shall continue until [Doe] may submit to the Tests; further, provided, however, in the event the Prospective Child is not submitted for the Tests within said 33 week period on account of the Prospective Child's medical ineligibility therefor (as may be determined by the Prospective Child's pediatrician), then, in such event, [Hagar] shall have the right to elect to continue [Doe's] covenant of non-disclosure hereunder until the results of the Tests have been received, by giving notice to [Doe] of such election, and by continuing to make the weekly payments hereunder (i.e., $500 per week) until the Test[] results have been received.

iii) Any termination of support payments under this Agreement, including, but not limited to, termination of support for disclosure or alleged disclosure by [Doe].

(b) Notwithstanding the foregoing, in the event of a miscarriage, stillbirth, or other termination of [Doe's] pregnancy with the Prospective Child, [Doe's] covenant not to disclose her belief that [Hagar] was the father of the Prospective Child shall then continue in perpetuity.

(c) [Doe] further represents that to date the sole disclosure she has made of her belief that [Hagar] is the father of the Prospective Child is to her parents, siblings, certain friends at her former place of employment, other close friends, and her niece and nephew, and her attorney or attorneys in connection with this matter, and she shall use her best efforts to assure no further said disclosure shall be made by these persons.

(d) In the event there is any further disclosure of [Doe's] belief that [Hagar] is the father of the Prospective Child, beyond that referred to in subpart (c) of this Paragraph, and excluding any disclosure of said belief to [Hagar's] attorne[ys] or business manager or any further such disclosure which is attributable, directly or indirectly to [Hagar], [Hagar] shall then have the right to terminate weekly payments for any payments accruing under this Agreement after notification to [Doe's] attorney of said disclosure and the place where said disclosure appeared or was stated, provided, however, that upon any such termination, [Doe] shall have all rights, in law or equity, to seek any and all relief available to her in any court of competent jurisdiction to establish paternity of the Prospective Child and support for the Prospective Child and herself as if this Agreement had never been entered into.

(e) [Hagar's] sole remedy for any breach by [Doe] of her covenant of non-disclosure as provided in this Paragraph . . . , shall be to terminate the weekly support payments under this Agreement for any payments accruing after notification to [Doe's] attorney of said disclosure as set forth in subpart (d) of this Paragraph. . . .

7. Confidentiality. This Agreement and the terms thereof are deemed by the parties to be confidential and [Doe] and [Hagar] each further agree that they shall not cause or permit this Agreement to be disclosed to any other party, except in the enforcement of this Agreement in a court of competent jurisdiction. Notwithstanding anything else stated hereunder, [Doe] may also explain in any court of competent jurisdiction that her failure to make any further disclosure subsequent to the execution of this Agreement was based on an agreement between [Doe] and [Hagar] providing for limited non-disclosure.

8. Entire Agreement. This Agreement represents the entire understanding of the parties with respect to the subject matter contained herein and as such may not be modified or altered in any manner except in a writing signed by both parties hereto.

Agreement, Doe App'x at 14-19, 21.

On February 27, 1989, Doe gave birth to Dylan Reed Doe. Dylan died on March 4, 1989. No paternity tests were ever performed. On April 5, 1989, Doe sent Hagar a letter indicating that she had complied with the terms of the Agreement and acknowledging receipt of a $7,000 payment from Hagar ...


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