Zeigler v. Atrius Health, Inc. et al
Judge Indira Talwani: ORDER entered denying 162 Motion for Entry of Judgment under Rule 54(b). SEE attached Order. (MacDonald, Gail)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS
ATRIUS HEALTH, INC.,
CHRISTOPHER JOSEPH, and
Civil Action No. 15-cv-13384-IT
November 28, 2017
Before the court is Defendant Michael Rater’s Renewed Motion for Entry of Separate
and Final Judgment [#162]. Dr. Rater’s motion seeks entry of a final judgment pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), which provides that “[w]hen an action presents more than
one claim for relief . . . or when multiple parties are involved, the court may direct entry of a
final judgment as to one or more, but fewer than all, claims or parties.”
Plaintiff Alan Zeigler’s Amended Complaint [#30] asserted claims against Dr. Rater for
medical malpractice and libel. It also asserted claims against Atrius Health, Inc., (“Atrius”) and
Christopher Joseph for age discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Age Discrimination
in Employment Act (“ADEA”), retaliation in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”), and constructive discharge. The court recently allowed Dr. Rater’s Motion for
Summary Judgment [#102].1 See Order [#159]. The court later allowed in part and denied in part
a Motion for Summary Judgment [#107] filed by Atrius and Joseph. See Order [#164]. This
latter order denied summary judgment on the ADEA claims against Atrius and the FMLA claim
against both Atrius and Joseph. Those claims will now be tried before a jury.
Entry of a final judgment as to fewer than all claims or parties is warranted “only if the
court expressly determines that there is no just reason for delay.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b). The First
Circuit has cautioned that “[t]his procedure, though sometimes useful, is in obvious tension with
the ‘long-settled and prudential policy against the scattershot disposition of litigation.’” Nystedt
v. Nigro, 700 F.3d 25, 29 (1st Cir. 2012) (quoting Spiegel v. Trs. of Tufts Coll., 843 F.2d 38, 42
(1st Cir. 1988)). Rule 54(b) entry of final judgment “should be applied sparingly.” Id.
The circumstances here do not warrant the fragmented appellate review that Rule 54(b)
authorizes. Dr. Rater asserts there is no just reason for delay. Yet Zeigler notes that the
remaining claims against Atrius will involve many of the same facts as the recently dismissed
libel claim against Dr. Rater. Atrius claims it relied upon Dr. Rater’s fitness-for-duty reports,
which formed the basis of Zeigler’s libel claim against Dr. Rater, to justify its decision to place
Zeigler on administrative leave. This placement forms the basis of at least some of the surviving
claims against Atrius and Joseph. Therefore, Atrius will use Dr. Rater’s testimony and reports to
defend against Zeigler’s claims. As the First Circuit has held, “similarity of either legal or factual
issues (or both) militates strongly against invocation of Rule 54(b).” Spiegel, 843 F.2d at 45.
Granting Dr. Rater’s requested Rule 54(b) certification would conflict with “the strong
judicial policy disfavoring piecemeal appellate review.” Kersey v. Dennison Mfg. Co., 3 F.3d
This disposed of the libel claim, which was the last remaining claim against Dr. Rater. A prior
Stipulation of Dismissal with Prejudice [#71] dismissed the medical malpractice claim.
482, 487 (1st Cir. 1993); see also Credit Francais Int’l, S.A. v. Bio-Vita, Ltd., 78 F.3d 698, 70607 (1st Cir. 1996). Accordingly, Dr. Rater’s motion is DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
November 28, 2017
/s/ Indira Talwani
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?