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Hart v. Publicis Touchpoint Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

November 6, 2019

MICHAEL HART, Plaintiff,
v.
PUBLICIS TOUCHPOINT SOLUTIONS., INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS OR FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF No. 12)[1]

          AVERN COHN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         This is an employment case. Michael Hart (Hart) is suing his former employer Publicis Touchpoint Solutions (Publicis) claiming his termination was in violation of public policy.[2]

         Before the Court is Publicis' motion for summary judgment and/or motion to dismiss on the grounds that Hart has not made out a viable claim that he was terminated in violation of public policy. For the reasons which follow, the motion is GRANTED.

         II. Background

         The material facts as gleaned from the parties' papers follow.[3]

         Hart was employed by Publicis as a professional pharmaceuticals sales representative from December 2012 through September 2016. Publicis is a pharmaceutical marketing company and contracts with pharmaceutical companies to market their products. Particularly, Hart was responsible for marketing drugs produced by Pfizer and was given a territory in Michigan. Pfizer provided him with a list of physicians within his territory who might make use of these drugs in their practice, and on whom he was expected to make in-person sales calls.

         Publicis sets requirements for sales representatives to make a specified numbers of calls each week. Sales representatives, including Hart, were required to record their visits in a computer tracking program known as Veeva.

         Hart recorded in the Veeva system that he met with Dr. Daniel Field in Dr. Field's office in Okemos, Michigan on May 31, June 27, and September 2, 2016. These dates were all Fridays.

         During his employment with Publicis, Hart was supervised by John Williams. At some point, Williams wanted to meet with Dr. Field to ask him to support Medicaid approval for a certain Pfizer drug. When Williams went to Dr. Field's office to set up the meeting, he learned that the office is closed on Fridays and that Dr. Field does not have any meetings on Fridays.

         Publicis says that Williams went to Dr. Field's office to set up a meeting and learned that the office is closed on Fridays. After discovering Hart's falsification, Publicis terminated his employment, effective September 15, 2018.

         The record shows that Dr. Field never met with Hart. Dr. Field stated the following in a declaration:

I do not typically come to the office or accept appointments on Fridays except by special arrangement. I did not meet with Michael Hart on any Friday during calendar year 2016.

(Publicis Ex. C., ¶3.). At a deposition, Dr. Field testified that he had never met Hart until the date of the deposition, June 28, 2019, nearly three years after Hart's termination.

         The same day of his termination, Hart went to Dr. Field's office and tried to convince the staff that he had visited the office on Fridays. Leslie Field, the receptionist, stated the following in a declaration:

Michael Hart entered Family Counseling and Psychiatry and handed me a list of dates. He instructed me to tell any person that called from his employer's office that he had meetings with Dr. Field on those dates. When I refused to give a false report of meetings that did not occur, he became angry and refused to leave the premises.

(Publicis Ex. E, ¶4.). At a deposition, Leslie Field further described Hart's conduct as follows:

I was extremely stressed at this point. I had a man demanding that I sign something saying that he was meeting with Dr. Field on these days and that he met with him on Fridays, and I was saying that I could not do that, that I would not sign anything saying that he was here, and he was, he was desperate. I could tell. His tie was untied. He was somewhat disheveled, and I had patients coming in, and he was threatening me.

(Publicis Ex. F, Leslie Field Dep., p. 14.).

         For his part, Hart says that the office is open on Fridays but does not typically see patients that day and ...


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