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Butler v. Shire Human Genetic Therapies, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

March 15, 2017



          WOLF, D.J.

         The court has received: the Magistrate Judge's January 23, 2017 Report and Recommendation that defendants Shire Human Genetic Therapies, Inc. and Shire Pharmaceuticals LLC's motion to dismiss be allowed; plaintiff Leland Butler's objections to the Report and Recommendation; and defendant's response to plaintiff's objection. The court has considered the issues properly raised by plaintiff's objections de novo. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b) (3) . It has exercised its discretion and not reviewed de novo the issues not presented to the Magistrate Judge. See Borden v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 836 F.2d 4, 6 (1st Cir. 1997). In any event, those new arguments appear to be unmeritorious.

         The court finds the Report and Recommendation to be thorough and persuasive. Therefore, the motion to dismiss is being allowed. At the conclusion of his objections, plaintiff requests that any dismissal be without prejudice to the filing of an amended complaint, but provides no justification for this request. Plaintiff previously amended his complaint. Therefore, he has had two opportunities to attempt to state a valid claim. There is no good reason to allow a third. In any event, it appears that any effort to amend the complaint again would be futile.

         Therefore, it is hereby ORDERED that:

         1. The attached Report and Recommendation (Docket No. 21) is INCORPORATED in this Memorandum and ADOPTED.

         2. Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint in its Entirety (Docket No. 8) is ALLOWED.

         3. This case is DISMISSED.


         Dated: January 23,2017

          JENNIFER C.BOAL, United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Leland Butler brings this action against defendants Shire Human Genetic Therapies, Inc. and Shire Pharmaceuticals LLC (collectively, "Shire") alleging breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, wrongful termination, and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The defendants have moved to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.[1] Dkt. No. 8. For the following reasons, the Court recommends that the District Judge assigned to this case grant the motion to dismiss.[2]


         Leland Butler was employed as a Regional Business Manager, Shire Rare Disease Business Unit, from January 30,2014 through January 23,2015. Compl. ¶¶ 4-5.[4] Shire often held "speaker meetings," in which a doctor would meet with patients or potential patients to discuss illnesses and Shire products. Id¶ 12. According to Butler, the meetings, held at least annually, largely contained the same information and often the audience consisted of the same patients. Id. ¶ 14. There are standard slides that are provided to physicians with respect to these meetings. Id. ¶ 18.

         On October 18,2014, an annual meeting was held in Phoenix, Arizona. Id. ¶ 17. During the meeting, Dr. Kirk Aleck spoke with patients and families affected by Hunter Disease. Id. ¶ 19. Only two families attended the meeting and both families said they did not want to see the slides, which they had seen multiple times before. Id. Dr. Aleck did not want to present the same slides again and did not show them during the meeting. Id. ¶¶ 19-20. After the meeting, Butler submitted a report indicating that the slides were not shown. Id. ¶ 21.

         In January 2015, Butler received an email from a Shire Global Compliance attorney. Id. ¶ 22. The attorney requested a conference call to discuss the October 18,2014 meeting. Id. Butler participated in the call on January 12,2015. Id. Soon after, Butler received an email from his supervisor, Jason Amar, requesting a follow-up discussion. Id. ¶ 24. During the January 23, 2015 follow-up call, in which Butler, Dan Gauthier, and Jason Amar participated, Butler was informed that he would be "terminated with cause" due to an alleged compliance violation. Id. ¶ 24. Specifically, Butler failed to comply with the "mandatory" requirement that the slides be shown at the October 18, 2014 meeting. Id. ¶ 25. Butler challenged his termination and argued that, at the time of the meeting, he had no reason to believe that the slides were a mandatory part of the presentation. Id, ¶ 26. Butler states that he spoke with trainer Kevin Bille one month before the meeting, and "there was no mention about slides being mandatory or what to do if the audience and/or speaker did not want to see the slides." Id. ¶ 27. Butler further claims that none of the correspondence, training materials, or instruction regarding the meetings indicated that an individual would be subject to termination (or any form of discipline) for failure to show the slides during a meeting. Id. ¶¶ 29-31. Rather than state that the slides were mandatory, a preprinted meeting form only contained a box to check if the slides had been shown. Id. ¶ 28. Butler also alleges that on or about November 2014, Shire revised its training materials to state that slides must be shown at meetings. Id. ¶ 32.

         Butler was 58 years old when he was terminated from Shire and has been unable to find work since his termination. Id. ¶¶ 9, 33. Butler claims that as a result of the defendants' actions, he has suffered a loss of income, damage to his reputation, embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress, and various expenses related to the treatment of his emotional distress. Id. ¶ 34. To compensate for these losses, Butler seeks, inter alia, lost wages and benefits from the date of his termination, an award of front pay from the date of judgment through January 2024, treble and/or liquidated damages, attorneys' fees, and prejudgment interest. Compl. at 8.[5]

         Butler filed the instant suit in Massachusetts Superior Court on July 12,2016. Dkt. No. 7 at 10. He amended his complaint on August 3,2016. Dkt. No. 1-1. Shire removed the action on the basis of diversity jurisdiction on August 19,2016.[6] Dkt. No. 1. On August 26,2016, the defendants moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint on the following grounds: (1) Butler has failed to state a claim with respect to breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing and wrongful termination; and (2) Butler's emotional distress tort claims are barred by the exclusivity provision of the Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Act. Dkt. No. 9 at 2. Butler opposed Shire's motion to dismiss on ...

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