United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
ALAN PREDELLA, DANIEL MCDONNELL, and ALL THOSE SIMILARLY SITUATED, Plaintiffs,
TOWN OF BRAINTREE, BRAINTREE FIREFIGHTERS IAFF, LOCAL 1920, JOSEPH SULLIVAN, JAMES O'BRIEN, THOMAS GRACE, and WILLIAM CASH, Defendants.
TALWANI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Thomas Grace and James O'Brien seek to dismiss Plaintiff
Alan Predella's claims that Grace and O'Brien
retaliated against Predella in violation of Massachusetts
General Laws chapter 151B, § 4(4). Because
Predella's allegations are sufficient to state a claim as
to O'Brien but not as to Grace, Grace's Motion to
Dismiss [#67] is ALLOWED and O'Brien's
Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Predella's Retaliation
Claim [#70] is DENIED.
following factual allegations in the Second Amended
Complaint [#59] are relevant to the challenged claims:
Town of Braintree is a municipality that employs Predella,
O'Brien, and Grace. Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 3,
7-8, 10. Predella is the Deputy Chief of the Braintree Fire
Department. Id. ¶¶ 10, 19. O'Brien,
the Chief of the Braintree Fire Department, is Predella's
superior, and Grace, a captain, is Predella's
subordinate. Id. ¶¶ 7-8. Defendant
Braintree Firefights, IAFF Local 920 (“Local
920”) is certified and recognized as the exclusive
representative of Braintree Fire Department employees.
Id. ¶ 4. Defendant William Cash is the
President of Local 920. Id. ¶ 9.
30, 2016, Predella presented a letter to his human resources
director informing her that he intended to file a MCAD
complaint against O'Brien and Grace. Id. ¶
204. The letter also recounted allegedly discriminatory acts
by O'Brien from early 2016. Id. ¶ 205. On
August 16, 2016, Predella filed his MCAD Complaint alleging
age discrimination. Id. ¶ 209. O'Brien and
Grace were aware of Predella's letter and the filing of
his MCAD complaint. Id. ¶¶ 206, 209.
October 20, 2016, O'Brien, Grace, and Cash
“orchestrated the ‘rescission'” of
Pradella's membership in Local 920, which was “made
effective at a union meeting.” Id. ¶ 213.
The Town and Local 920, “by their agents, including
Defendant O'Brien, Defendant Cash, and Defendant Grace,
also agreed to consider Plaintiff Predella ineligible to work
outside paid details, established under the collection
agreement now in effect, because Defendant Local 920
rescinded his union membership.” Id. ¶
214. They also agreed to consider him ineligible for
about July 12, 2017, while at work, Predella was transported
to the hospital after suffering difficulty breathing, an
abnormally high heart rate, sweating, and trembling.
Id. ¶ 219. After Predella made a timely request
for benefits under G.L. c. 41, § 111F, his request was
denied by O'Brien. Id. ¶¶ 220-223.
O'Brien and other Chiefs have approved similar requests
in the past for § 111F benefits. Id. ¶
motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) is properly allowed when the complaint
does not “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted
as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 554, 570 (2007)). For the purposes of this motion,
any well-pleaded, non-conclusory factual allegations are
assumed true and all reasonable inferences are drawn in the
plaintiff's favor. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 680-81
(stating that conclusory allegations are not entitled to a
presumption of truth); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 581. The
court will then “determine whether the factual
allegations are sufficient to support the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable.” Saldivar
v. Racine, 818 F.3d 14, 18 (1st Cir. 2016) (quoting
Cardigan Mountain Sch. v. N.H. Ins. Co., 787 F.3d
82, 84 (1st Cir. 2015)).
Massachusetts General Laws chapter 151B, § 4(4), no
“person, employer, [or] labor organization” may
“discharge, expel, or otherwise discriminate against
any person because . . . he has filed a complaint”
covered by the statute. See also Noviello v. City of
Boston, 398 F.3d 76, 88-89 (1st Cir. 2005). To
demonstrate retaliation, a plaintiff must establish three
prongs: that (i) he undertook protected conduct, (ii) he
suffered some materially adverse action, and (iii) that the
adverse action was casually linked to the protected activity.
Dixon v. Int'l Bhd. of Police Officers, 504 F.3d
73, 81-83 (1st Cir. 2007) (applying retaliation framework to
both adverse employment action as well as union retaliation).
For the purposes of this motion, neither Grace nor
O'Brien dispute that Predella engaged in protected
activity when he filed his letter with human resources on
June 30, 2016, and his MCAD Complaint on August 16, 2016.
See Def. Grace's Mem. Law Supp. Mot. Dismiss
(“Grace Mem.”) at 3 [#68]; Def. O'Brien's
Mem. Law Supp. Mot. Dismiss (“O'Brien Mem.”)
(addressing only the second prong of the retaliation
framework) [#71]. Thus, this court moves directly to the
second prong of the retaliation framework.
Retaliation Claim as to Thomas Grace
alleges that after he filed his letter with human resources
and his complaint with MCAD, Grace:
“orchestrat[ed]” with other Defendants “the
expulsion of Plaintiff Predella from Local 920, ”
see Second Amended Complaint ¶¶ 213, 342,
and “agree[d] to consider Plaintiff Predella ineligible
to work outside paid details, established under the
collective bargaining ...