United States District Court, D. Delaware
Michelle D. Allen, Esq., Hockessin, Del., attorney for
Plaintiff Charles Pratt.
A. Holt, Esq., Lauren E.M. Russell, Esq., Young Conaway
Stargatt & Taylor, LLP, Wilmington, Del., attorneys for
Defendant M&T Bank.
ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
a case of an auditor that did his job too well, or not well
enough. Since there are genuine disputes of material fact,
that is for the jury to sort out.
Charles Pratt worked for Defendant M&T bank for seventeen
months until it fired him. During that time, Plaintiff worked
in Defendant's audit department on the information
technology security team.
alleges that his reports of data security violations,
requests for further testing, and objections to misleading
reporting of said violations were why Defendant wrote him up
and ultimately fired him. On that basis, he brings Delaware
Whistleblower Protection Act and implied covenant of good
faith and fair dealing claims against Defendant. He also
brings an implied covenant claim because Defendant changed
his position from Assistant Vice President to Banking Officer
within six weeks of starting the job.
has filed a motion for summary judgment on all three claims.
(D.I. 57). For the following reasons, Defendant's motion
is denied in part and granted in part.
Summary Judgment Standard
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Material facts are those "that could
affect the outcome" of the proceeding. Lamont v. New
Jersey, 637 F.3d 177, 181 (3d Cir. 2011) (quoting
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986)). "[A] dispute about a material fact is
'genuine' if the evidence is sufficient to permit a
reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving
party." Id. The burden on the moving party may
be discharged by pointing out to the district court that
there is an absence of evidence supporting the non-moving
party's case. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323 (1986).
burden then shifts to the non-movant to demonstrate the
existence of a genuine issue for trial. Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
586-87 (1986); Williams v. Borough of West Chester,
Pa., 891 F.2d 458, 460-61 (3d Cir. 1989). A non-moving
party asserting that a fact is genuinely disputed must
support such an assertion by: "(A) citing to particular
parts of materials in the record, including depositions,
documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or
declarations, stipulations . . ., admissions, interrogatory
answers, or other materials; or (B) showing that the
materials cited [by the opposing party] do not establish the
absence ... of a genuine dispute . . . ." Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)(1). The non-moving party's evidence "must
amount to more than a scintilla, but may amount to less (in
the evaluation of the court) than a preponderance."
Williams, 891 F.2d at 461.
determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists,
the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable
to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in
that party's favor. Wishkin v. Potter, 476 F.3d
180, 184 (3d Cir. 2007). If the non-moving party fails to
make a sufficient showing on an essential element of its case
with respect to which it has the burden of proof, the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See
Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322.
Delaware Whistleblower Protection Act Claim
Delaware Whistleblower Protection Act protects employees who
are fired for reporting a violation of certain state and
federal laws. In doing so, the Act "encourage[s]
reporting, " "promotes public health and safety,
" and "provides a check on persons in positions of
authority." Smith v. Univ. of Del., 47 A.3d
472, 476 (Del. 2012).
order to qualify as a violation under the Act, the employer
misconduct must speak to public health and safety or to
fraud. As to fraud, the relevant category here, the statute
defines a violation as:
an act or omission ... that is [m]aterially inconsistent
with, and a serious deviation from, financial management or
accounting standards implemented pursuant to a rule or
regulation promulgated by the employer or a law, rule, or
regulation promulgated under the laws of this State, a
political subdivision of this State, or the United States, to
protect any person from fraud, deceit, ...