United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
THE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL CORPORATION D/B/A BOSTON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL, Plaintiff,
ISIN CAKIR, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
DENISE J. CASPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Plaintiff Children’s Hospital Corporation (“Children’s Hospital”) has filed this action against defendant Isin Cakir (“Cakir”) alleging that Cakir is in wrongful possession of the images and data on the laptop computer Cakir used during the course of his employment with Children’s Hospital. D. 1. Children’s Hospital asserts claims for replevin and conversion. Id. In his answer, Cakir raises a counterclaim for abuse of process. D. 9. Children’s Hospital has moved for judgment on the pleadings on both of its claims. D. 12. Children’s Hospital also moves to dismiss Cakir’s abuse of process counterclaim. Id. For the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES the motion for judgment on the pleadings on Children’s Hospital’s claims and ALLOWS the motion to dismiss Cakir’s counterclaim.
II. Standard of Review
A. Motion to Dismiss
On 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 conducts a two-step process, García-Catalán v. United States, 734 F.3d 100, 103 (1st Cir. 2013), to determine if the facts alleged “plausibly narrate a claim for relief.” Schatz v. Republican State Leadership Comm., 669 F.3d 50, 55 (1st Cir. 2012) (internal citation omitted). Reading the complaint as a whole, the Court identifies and disregards the conclusory legal allegations. García-Catalán, 734 F.3d at 103. The Court accepts factual allegations as true. Id. The Court then determines whether the factual allegations, taken together, present a reasonable inference of liability for the defendant’s allegedly wrongful conduct. See Haley v. City of Boston, 657 F.3d 39, 46 (1st Cir. 2011).
The Court will dismiss a pleading that fails to include “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 avoid dismissal, a complaint must provide ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.’” García-Catalán, 734 F.3d at 102 (internal citation omitted). “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. (alteration in original) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
B. Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
A motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) is “ordinarily accorded much the same treatment” as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Aponte-Torres v. Univ. Of Puerto Rico, 445 F.3d 50, 54 (1st Cir. 2006). A motion for judgment on the pleadings “calls for an assessment of the merits of the case at an embryonic stage.” Pérez-Acevedo v. Rivero- Cubano, 520 F.3d 26, 29 (1st Cir. 2008) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted). As a result, the Court “view[s] the facts contained in the pleadings in the light most favorable to the nonmovant and draw[s] all reasonable inferences therefrom” in its favor. Id. (internal citation and quotation mark omitted). On a Rule 12(c) motion, however, the Court considers the pleadings as a whole, including the answer. See Aponte-Torres, 445 F.3d at 54-55. Those assertions in the answer that have not been denied and do not conflict with the assertions in the complaint are taken as true. See Santiago v. Bloise, 741 F.Supp.2d 357, 360 (D. Mass. 2010). The Court is also permitted to consider documents fairly incorporated into the pleadings and facts susceptible to judicial notice as it may do with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. See R.G. Fin. Corp. v. Vergara-Nuñez, 446 F.3d 178, 182 (1st Cir. 2006). The Court may not, however, resolve contested facts. See id. (internal citation omitted). Only if those properly considered facts “conclusively establish the movant’s point” is the motion for judgment on the pleadings granted. Id. (internal citation omitted). Where material facts are disputed, the Court must deny the motion. Id.
C. Procedural History
This civil action is related to Cabi et al. v. Boston Children’s Hospital (“Cabi”), an ongoing suit in which Cakir, along with two other plaintiffs, asserts employment discrimination, wrongful termination and retaliation claims against Children’s Hospital. Cabi et al. v. Boston Children’s Hosp., No. 15-cv-12306-DJC, 2016 WL 593495, at *1 (D. Mass. Feb. 12, 2016). The plaintiffs in Cabi filed their complaint on June 11, 2015. Id. at *3. Less than three months later, on September 3, 2015, Children’s Hospital instituted this action against Cakir. D. 1. Cakir raised a counterclaim for abuse of process in his answer. D. 9. Children’s Hospital moves for judgment on the pleadings on its conversion and replevin claims. D. 12. Children’s Hospital moves to dismiss Cakir’s counterclaim for abuse of process. Id. The Court heard the parties on the pending motion and took the matter under advisement. D. 20.
D. Factual Summary
From October 2010 to February or April 2015, Cakir was employed as a post-doctoral fellow at Children’s Hospital. D. 1 ¶ 8; D. 9 at 5. Throughout his employment, Cakir used a laptop to conduct his work (“the Laptop”). D. 1 ¶ 1; D. 9 at 1. As an employee, Cakir was subject to three Children’s Hospital policies related to network resources, data storage and data ownership rights. D. 1 ¶¶ 15-17; D. 9 at 2-3; D. 13 at 7-8. At some point after his employment ended, Cakir delivered the Laptop to TechFusion, a third-party computer forensics company. D. 1 ¶¶ 3, 13, 20; D. 9 at 2. TechFusion created a forensic image of the Laptop, capturing all of the data contained on the Laptop. D. 1 ¶¶ 3, 13, 20; D. 9 at 2. Children’s Hospital alleges that its employment policies grant Children’s Hospital ownership of all of the images on the Laptop including all files, deleted files, hard drives, data and metadata as well as an exact forensic copy of the Laptop (“Laptop Data”). D. 1 ¶ 1. ...