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MADDIE v. SIEBEL SYSTEMS

November 4, 2004.

MICHAEL C. MADDIE, Plaintiff,
v.
SIEBEL SYSTEMS, INC., a Delaware Corporation, and DONALD O'SHEA, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: AMY J. ST. EVE, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Michael Maddie filed a complaint against his former employer, Siebel Systems, Inc. and his former supervisor, Donald O'Shea, alleging: defamation (Count I); tortious interference with a contract (Count II); civil assault (Count III); tortious supervision, retention, and investigation (Count IV); breach of contract (Count V); and intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Count VI). Defendants move to dismiss all claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. For reasons stated herein, the Court denies Defendants' motion to dismiss Counts I, II, III, and V, grants in part and denies in part their motion to dismiss Count IV, and grants their motion to dismiss Count VI.

LEGAL STANDARDS

  The purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the legal sufficiency of a complaint not the merits of the case. Triad. Assocs, Inc. v. Chicago Hous. Auth., 892 F. 2d 583, 586 (7th Cir. 1989). The well-plead allegations of a complaint must be accepted as true. Thompson v. Illinois Dep't of Prof'l Regulation, 300 F.3d 750, 753 (7th Cir. 2002). The courts construe ambiguities in favor of the plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff can plead conclusions and need not allege all or any facts entailed by the claim. Shah v. Inter-Continental Hotel Chicago Operating Corp., 314 F.3d 278, 282 (7th Cir. 2003).

  BACKGROUND

  For the purpose of this Opinion, the following facts are accepted as true. Siebel Systems, in Rosemont, Illinois, is engaged in the business of developing customer relationship management software and providing consulting services to implement software. Michael Maddie began working as a consultant for Siebel Systems in June of 2000. (R. 1-1, Pl's Comp. ¶ 7.) Donald O'Shea was one of Maddie's supervisors. (Id. at ¶ 21.) In October or November of 2002, Maddie expressed an interest in transferring into another group within the company — the Customer Relationship Management Strategy Group ("CRM"). (Id. at ¶ 20.) CRM offered Maddie a position pending approval of management including Donald O'Shea. (Id. at ¶¶ 20-21.) When O'Shea learned of Maddie's possible transfer he was furious and told another manager, "I don't like this guy. I'm not going to transfer him, I'm just going to fuck with him and use him until he leaves." (Id. at ¶ 22.) O'Shea allegedly thereafter denied Maddie's transfer request and told representatives of the CRM Strategy Group that, "[Maddie] was a performance issue and being counseled and therefore was not eligible for transfer." (Id. at ¶ 23.)

  In January of 2003, Maddie attempted to transfer into the Automotive Product Marketing Group ("APM") and APM offered him a position. APM advised Plaintiff that they would "coordinate approval of the transfer with O'Shea." (Id. at ¶¶ 26-27.) O'Shea allegedly did not approve the transfer and APM eventually froze all transfers into the group. (Id. at ¶¶ 28-29.) O'Shea told Plaintiff that he "only transfer[s] the right people out of the group." (Id. at ¶ 29.) On or about April, 28, 2003, Maddie alleges that O'Shea confronted him about arriving late to work. (Id. at ¶ 31.) Allegedly O'Shea acted in a manner that caused Maddie to think he was about to be physically attacked. (Id. at ¶¶ 31-37.) The altercation ended with O'Shea demanding Maddie's resignation. (Id. at ¶ 31.)

  Maddie contacted Cynthia Erickson, the Director of Human Resources, to complain. (Id. at ¶¶ 39-40.) Erickson told Maddie to stay away from O'Shea and "await her call while she contacted O'Shea and the Project Manager to get their side of the story." (Id. at ¶ 39.)

  On April 30, 2003, Plaintiff contacted Erickson to inquire about the status of her investigation. (Id. at ¶ 40.) During the call, Erickson allegedly told Plaintiff that the company Human Resources Department was processing his resignation. (Id.) Erickson said that O'Shea informed her that Maddie had resigned. (Id. at ¶ 41.) Erickson said her investigation was ongoing. (Id. at ¶¶ 41-42.) Plaintiff advised Erickson that he had not resigned. (Id. at ¶ 40.)

  On May 1, 2003, Erickson e-mailed Plaintiff stating that "Don [O'Shea] is under the impression that he accepted your resignation effective Monday 4/28 and the HR Operations dept has processed paperwork to that effect. I have not been able to reach Don today to discuss this further. I can confirm today that you no longer work for Siebel . . ." (Id. at ¶ 44.)

  On July 25, 2003, Siebel Systems' Senior Corporate Counsel advised Plaintiff that Siebel had completed its investigation of his allegations. She concluded that Plaintiff "was an at-will employee who was terminated lawfully by Siebel Systems, Inc." (Id. at ¶ 55.) In August of 2003, another Corporate Counsel concluded that O'Shea "was not responsible for [Plaintiff's] ultimate departure and supported him during his tenure." (Id. at ¶ 58.) On May 17, 2004, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit. ANALYSIS

  I. Defamation (Count I)

  Plaintiff argues that in October or November of 2002, O'Shea made a defamatory statement that Plaintiff was a performance issue and being counseled and therefore was not eligible to transfer. (R. 1-1, Pl's Comp. at ¶ 23.) Defendants argue that: (1) the one year statute of limitations bars Plaintiff from bringing this action; (2) the alleged statement did not contain an objectively verifiable fact and was therefore a constitutionally protected opinion; ...


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