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Tyron v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

Superior Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk

August 17, 2016

Thomas Tyron
v.
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority No. 134749

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON MASSACHUSETTS BAY TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          Paul D. Wilson, Justice of the Superior Court.

         The plaintiff, Thomas Tyron, sues the defendant, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (the " MBTA"), alleging that the MBTA has violated G.L.c. 149, § 185 (the " Whistle Blower Act"). The MBTA now moves for dismissal under Mass.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), arguing that (1) the applicable statute of limitation has expired, and (2) the plaintiff has failed to set forth factual allegations sufficient to state a claim under the Whistle Blower Act.

         Having reviewed the parties' briefs and heard oral argument on the matter, I DENY the MBTA's motion to dismiss.

         BACKGROUND

         The facts as taken from the complaint, and accepted as true for purposes of this motion, are as follows.

         In 2001, the plaintiff held a superintendent position at the MBTA. In August 2001, the plaintiff discovered that several members of the work crew he supervised, including Patrick Kineavy, were submitting timesheets falsely indicating that they had worked overtime when they had not. The plaintiff investigated the matter further and determined that the crewmembers should not be paid for the claimed overtime. The plaintiff brought the results of his investigation to the attention of his supervisor.

         In September 2001, the crewmembers filed a complaint with the MBTA's Office of Diversity and Civil Rights, alleging that the plaintiff had harassed them by excessively supervising them and not paying them the claimed overtime. In June 2002, Kineavy sent the Office of Diversity and Civil Rights a follow-up letter complaining that the office had not investigated his complaint. Kineavy also sent a copy of this letter to the plaintiff.

         Both Kineavy and the plaintiff continued to work at the MBTA. Eventually Kineavy was promoted to a supervisory position.

         On or about January 6, 2011, the plaintiff was informed that his position might be eliminated. Around the same time, Director Stephen Tychron (" Director Tychron") informed the plaintiff that there was an open position for a superintendent of the Green Line. Although the plaintiff expressed interest in the position, it was given to a younger employee with allegedly less education, less experience, and a less impressive record of accomplishments. On or about January 31, 2011, the plaintiff was informed that his position was going to be eliminated and that his final day of work would be February 2, 2011. The plaintiff responded by tendering his retirement notice.

         Based on the belief that he was not selected for the Green Line superintendent position because of his age, the plaintiff filed an age discrimination complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. The complaint was lodged against Director Trychon. In June 2013, Director Tychron informed the plaintiff that the decisions to eliminate the plaintiff's position and to hire someone else for the Green Line superintendent position were not his; Kineavy in fact made those decisions.

         The plaintiff alleges that Kineavy eliminated the plaintiff's position and refused to hire the plaintiff as a Green Line superintendent in retaliation for the plaintiff's actions in 2001. The plaintiff argues that he blew the whistle on Kineavy in 2001 and suffered an adverse employment action in 2011, and, as a result, he has a claim under the Whistle Blower Act. The MBTA has moved to dismiss the plaintiff's claim on the grounds that (1) the applicable statute of limitation has expired, and (2) the plaintiff has failed to set forth factual allegations sufficient to state a claim under the Whistle Blower Act.

         DISCUSSION

          When evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint under the motion to dismiss standard of Mass.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the court must accept as true the factual allegations of the complaint and all reasonable inferences drawn from those allegations that are favorable to the plaintiff. Blank v. Chelmsford Ob/Gyn, P.C., 420 Mass. 404, 407, 649 N.E.2d 1102 (1995). The complaint must contain " allegations plausibly suggesting (not merely consistent with) an entitlement to relief . . ." Iannacchino v. Ford Motor Co., 451 Mass. 623, 636, 888 N.E.2d 879 (2008), quoting Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). While the complaint need not set forth detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff is required to present more than mere labels and conclusions and must raise a right to relief " above the speculative level." Id.

         A. Statute ...


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