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Quigley v. Precision Castparts Corp.

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

July 14, 2016

Martin T. Quigley
Precision Castparts Corp., et al. Opinion No. 2016 DNH 116


          Paul Barbadoro United States District Judge

         In January 2016, New Hampshire resident Martin Quigley filed a lawsuit in New Hampshire state court against his former employer, Precision Castparts Corp., an Oregon corporation.[1]Along with Precision, Quigley named a host of other defendants, including two of Precision’s subsidiaries, eight named individuals, and ten unnamed “Doe Defendants.” Relevant here, all of these defendants reside outside New Hampshire except one: Joshua Durand, the Bow, NH-based Human Resources Manager of Precision subsidiary PCC Structurals, Inc.

         In March 2016, Precision removed the case to this court, invoking the court’s diversity jurisdiction.[2] See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332 (diversity); 1446 (removal). It noted that “all corporate and individual defendants, with the sole exception of Durand, are citizens of different states.” Doc. No. 1 at 2. Precision argued that Durand’s presence in the suit did not destroy diversity jurisdiction because there was “no reasonable possibility that the state’s highest court would find that the complaint states a cause of action against [Durand].” Id. (citing Universal Truck & Equip. Co. v. Southworth-Milton, Inc., 765 F.3d 103, 108 (1st Cir. 2014)). The next month, Quigley moved to remand the case to state court. Doc. No. 8.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Quigley’s Lawsuit

         Quigley asserts a variety of state law claims related to his prior employment at Precision and two of its subsidiaries, Wyman-Gordon Investment Castings, Inc. (Wyman) and PCC Structurals, Inc. (Structurals). He alleges that he was subjected to a hostile environment while working as the Vice President of Sales at Wyman’s Cleveland facility from April 2012 to March 2014. Doc. No. 1-1 at 6. Quigley eventually requested a transfer to Wyman’s location in Millbury, MA. Id. Rather than accommodate his request, however, Precision allegedly forced Quigley to undergo “internal interviews and testing” before reassigning him in March 2014 to Structurals’ Tilton, NH facility under a six-month probationary agreement.[3] Id. at 6-7.

         Quigley claims that he was “routinely coerced into partaking in business practices that he found unethical and illegal” throughout his tenure at Precision. Id. at 7. For example, Quigley alleges that Precision engaged in “extortion of customers, sale of unqualified products, insurance fraud and price fixing schemes.” Id. According to Quigley, Precision executives condoned verbal and physical abuse towards Quigley as a part of Precision’s “culture” as a “full contact company.” Id. at 8.

         Due to the hostile work environment he was forced to endure, Quigley soon began suffering from high levels of stress and anxiety. Id. In July 2014, his doctors recommended a six-month leave of absence and advised him to avoid stressful environments. Id. The next month, Quigley contacted defendant John Erickson, a Senior Vice President at Precision, to discuss his health issues and request a leave of absence. Id. at 9. Erickson assured Quigley that he would only share information about Quigley’s health issues with other senior executives and human resources personnel, but to Quigley’s dismay, Erickson and other unnamed defendants disclosed his health information to “other employees, to customers, and to others in the aerospace industry.” Id. This disclosure humiliated Quigley and impeded his ability to find other employment at a similar level of compensation. Id.

         During this period, Quigley continued to pursue a leave of absence. Defendant Brian Keegan, Precision’s Senior Corporate Director of Employee Relations, told Quigley that, among other things, he qualified for six months of disability coverage through the health insurer Cigna. Id. Quigley began filling out paperwork for Cigna and invested “large amounts of time and money” in the process. Id. At some point, however, he was told that the “Corporate Defendants, Defendant Durand, and Defendant Keegan, had all misinformed [Quigley] about [his] eligibility for coverage.” Id. Cigna then denied his coverage. Id. This “two-month long process” caused Quigley “further emotional and physical distress and significant out-of-pocket expenses.” Id.

         In addition to misleading Quigley about his disability coverage, the “Defendants . . . jointly decided to conduct a sham investigation” to force him from his job. Id. at 10. According to Quigley, this “sham investigation” served as a “pretext for their firing” him. Id. at 11. In November 2014, Quigley was placed on unpaid leave status pending “investigations into suspected violations of his probationary agreement, ” and the next month, Quigley’s employment was terminated. Id. at 10-11.

         In January 2016, Quigley filed this lawsuit, bringing ten claims under New Hampshire law. Not all claims are directed at each defendant; some apply to various corporate defendants, others to “All Defendants.” See Id. at 11-16. Quigley asserts only four claims against Durand: breach of fiduciary duty, civil conspiracy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. See Id. at 13-16.

         B. Facts Relevant to Durand

         Durand is only briefly mentioned in the complaint. He is listed as one of several individual defendants, along with his Bow, NH address and role as Structurals’ Human Resource Manager. Id. at 5. Later in the complaint, Quigley alleges that “Defendants” – including, presumably, Durand – improperly disclosed his confidential health information to employees, customers, and others in the aerospace industry. Id. at 9. He argues in a memorandum supporting his motion that Durand’s position as Human Resource Manager gave him access to Quigley’s health information, and Durand breached his duty to keep that information private. See Doc. No. 8-1 at 2.

         Quigley further explains that “Defendant Durand” and other Precision administrators “misinformed” him about his eligibility for disability coverage under Cigna’s policy. Doc. No. 1-1 at 9. This misinformation caused him to undergo an “expensive, stressful, and ultimately futile two-month long process, ” which led to “further emotional and physical distress and significant out-of-pocket expenses.” Id. Finally, Quigley claims that the “Defendants” – again, presumably including, but not naming, Durand – “jointly decided to conduct a sham investigation to force [Quigley] from his job and prevent him from becoming a whistleblower.” Id. at 10. Because Durand was Structurals’ Human Resource Manager, Quigley argues, Durand “was in a position to participate in said civil ...

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