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Ly-Drouin v. Healthbridge Management, LLC

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

June 19, 2015

MILDRED LY-DROUIN, Plaintiff,
v.
HEALTHBRIDGE MANAGEMENT, LLC & 19 VARNUM STREET OPERATING COMPANY, LLC, d/b/a LOWELL HEALTH CARE CENTER, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

DENISE J. CASPER, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Mildred Ly-Drouin ("Ly-Drouin") filed this lawsuit against defendants Healthbridge Management, LLC and 19 Varnum Street Operating Company, LLC which together operate the Lowell Health Care Center (the "Center") (collectively, the "Defendants") alleging wrongful termination and seeking declaratory relief and damages. D. 9-1 at 4. The Defendants have moved to dismiss. D. 4. For the reasons stated below, the Court ALLOWS the motion without prejudice to filing an amended complaint.

II. Standard of Review

In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court will dismiss a pleading that fails to plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). To state a plausible claim, a claim need not contain detailed factual allegations, but it must recite facts sufficient to at least "raise a right to relief above the speculative level... on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. "A pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s]' devoid of further factual enhancement.'" Id . (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557) (alteration in original). At bottom, a claim must contain sufficient factual matter that, accepted as true, would allow the Court "to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id . However, "[i]n determining whether a [pleading] crosses the plausibility threshold, the reviewing court [must] draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'... This context-specific inquiry does not demand a high degree of factual specificity.'" García-Catalán v. United States, 734 F.3d 100, 103 (1st Cir. 2013) (internal citations omitted).

III. Factual Background

The following facts are drawn from the complaint and accepted as true, as they must in evaluating the Defendants' motion to dismiss. Ly-Drouin began working at the Center in 2011 as the Neurorehabilitation Program Director. D. 9-1 ¶ 7. On August 1, 2013, one resident of the Center allegedly used a knife to commit an assault and battery on another resident. Id . ¶ 9. Ly-Drouin was not at work when the incident occurred, but she was told about it at work the next morning. Id . ¶10. Ly-Drouin was further informed that the Director of Nursing Services instructed a nursing supervisor to dispose of the knife used in the incident and to refrain from sending the two patients involved to the hospital. Id . ¶¶ 11-12. Thereafter Ly-Drouin "asked nursing and therapeutic staff to write and sign statements regarding the incident." Id . ¶ 13. Ly-Drouin's assistant's statement allegedly indicated that the nursing supervisor gave him the knife, and he then gave the knife to Ly-Drouin's boss. Id . ¶ 14. That day, Ly-Drouin gave the assistant's statement to her boss and faxed all of the employees' statements to the Center's neuropsychologist "as instructed by her clinical supervisor." Id . ¶ 15-16.

A few days later, Ly-Drouin's assistant allegedly told her that he had been asked to rewrite his statement. Id . ¶ 20. Ly-Drouin further alleges that around that time her boss became upset with her and called her a whistleblower. Id . ¶ 21. She was then suspended for five days and received a warning from her boss for making false allegations regarding the Director of Nursing Services, for failing to communicate with her boss regarding the allegations, and for making inconsistent statements to investigators. Id . ¶¶ 22-23. Ly-Drouin disputes the validity of the grounds for this warning, alleging that she "followed protocol regarding the clinical situation." Id . ¶¶ 24-26.

A few months later, on October 30, 2013, Ly-Drouin was fired, purportedly for inadequate performance. Id . ¶ 27. Ly-Drouin alleges that the real reason for her termination was "her participation in the investigation and for reporting conduct to her superiors." Id . ¶ 30.

Count I of Ly-Drouin's Complaint claims the conduct precipitating her termination "was protected or mandated and she was assisting in an investigation or report." Id . ¶ 32. She further claims that her termination violates public policy. Id . ¶ 33. Count II seeks declaratory relief. Id . ¶ 35.

IV. Procedural History

Ly-Drouin instituted this action in the Middlesex Superior Court on August 8, 2014. D. 9-1. The Defendants removed it pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, D. 1, then moved to dismiss, D. 4. The Court heard the parties on the pending motion and took the matter under advisement. D. 18.

V. Discussion

A. Wrongful ...


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