Whether the trial court properly entered a PPO at the petitioner's request against her sister-in-law (respondent-Jenkins) where petitioner alleged and established facts that constituted "stalking" under MCL 750.411h; MCL 600.2950a(1) governing the issuance of nondomestic PPOs; "Stalking" defined; MCL 750.411h(d); "Harassment" defined; MCL 750.411h(c); "Unconsented contact"; MCL 750.411h(e); "Course of conduct" defined; MCL 750.411h(1)(a); Credibility; HJ Tucker & Assocs., Inc. v. Allied Chucker & Eng'g Co.
In this case the trial court issued a PPO for petitioner-Arsnoe against her sister-in-law respondent-Jenkins barring Jenkins from entering Arsnoe's workplace and property, or confronting Arsnoe in public. Since Arsnoe alleged and established facts constituting stalking under MCL 750.411h, the court held that the trial court properly entered the PPO. "Stalking" is defined as a "willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested." Jenkins is married to Arsnoe's brother. Both women's husbands formed a partnership and purchased Jenkins Potato Farm from Arsnoe's parents, and have run the business together since 1998. Arsnoe does the Farm's bookkeeping and HR work. Jenkins was hired as a Farm employee in 2005, began dating Arsnoe's brother and the two married in 2007. Arsnoe testified that the family dynamic began to disintegrate after the marriage. She described an incident in 9/09 in the Farm's parking lot when Jenkins and Arsnoe's brother were angry that Arsnoe had hired a certain employee. During the dispute, Arsnoe asked Jenkins to refrain from using profanity. Jenkins admitted that she told Arsnoe to "get used to it" and proceeded to rattle of the "F" word several times. Jenkins claimed that this occurred as Arsnoe walked away, but Arsnoe testified that Jenkins yelled in her face. She also testified that in 4/10, Jenkins approached her during a family meal at a local restaurant and called her a "psychotic bitch." Jenkins admitted to this incident as well, but claimed that Arsnoe began the conflict the prior day by threatening to end Jenkins' mother's employment at the Farm. Arsnoe also testified to three other incidents, which led her to seek the PPO. First, Jenkins yelled at her in front of Farm employees that her husband had to fire Arsnoe or she would divorce him. Jenkins denied this claim, but witnesses confirmed it. Arsnoe also claimed that the next day, Jenkins entered the Farm warehouse where several employees were working and screamed vulgar insults about Arsnoe, and Arsnoe's husband confirmed this event. Jenkins admitted this event but claimed that Arsnoe was not present at the time. Finally, when Jenkins was a passenger in a vehicle driven by her father, Jenkins admittedly yelled obscenities from the car window as they passed Arsnoe's home. Arsnoe heard the insult through an open window. Jenkins claimed that she responded to Arsnoe's daughter who first shouted profanity at her. The court held that there was sufficient evidence to establish harassment and thus, stalking to support the issuance of the PPO. Affirmed.
Full Text Opinion
State Bar of Michigan
306 Townsend St
Lansing, MI 48933-2012