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Riley v. Boston Scientific Corp.

United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Terre Haute Division

September 17, 2014

JAMES RILEY, Plaintiff,


Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge United States District Court.

This cause is before the Court on the Defendant’s motion for summary judgment (dkt. no. 36). The motion is fully briefed, and the Court, being duly advised, GRANTS the motion for the following reasons.


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment is appropriate “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.” In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the admissible evidence presented by the non-moving party must be believed and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the non-movant’s favor. Hemsworth v., Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 490 (7th Cir. 2007); Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009) (“We view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party’s favor.”). However, “[a] party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial.” Id. Finally, the non-moving party bears the burden of specifically identifying the relevant evidence of record, and “the court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment.” Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001).


The facts taken in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, James Riley, [1] are as follow.

Boston Scientific Corporation (“BSC”) is a worldwide developer and manufacturer of medical devices. Mr. Riley was hired by BSC in 1991 to work as a research and development technician in BSC’s Spencer, Indiana facility; he was approximately thirty-eight years old at the time. In October 2007, Mr. Riley was promoted to a senior production supervisor and began working in the operations department.

BSC’s Spencer facility utilizes the Components Verification System (“the CV System”) in order to ensure the quality of its medical devices. Specifically, the CV System ensures that the correct components, including, among others, the correct label and appropriate directions, are on the medical device. If the CV System detects an error, it “locks up” and the device cannot be processed until the discrepancy is resolved. Once the system is locked, only certain BSC employees can unlock it—production supervisors, manufacturing engineers, and quality engineers—with an individualized username and password. Before entering their username and password, these individuals are to investigate the issue. If they determine that the components are all correct, they can enter their username and password to unlock the CV System so that the order can be processed. If there is an error with the components, a hold is placed on the order.

Product builders are not given CV System usernames and passwords in the ordinary course of business; however, product builders’ supervisors are able to request that a username and password be given to them so that they are able to unlock the CV System themselves. While no such request had ever been denied, at the time Mr. Riley was employed with BSC fewer than five product builders had their own CV System usernames and passwords.

In December 2011, Jennylynn Burris, a product builder, repeatedly requested that Mr. Riley unlock the CV System for her because she could not locate her own supervisor for it to be unlocked. Mr. Riley did so several times. Thereafter, in mid-December 2011, Mr. Riley wrote his CV System username and password on a post-it-note and gave it to Ms. Burris. He did so because he had to attend a meeting and wanted Ms. Burris to be able to unlock the CV System because she could not find anyone else to unlock it. Mr. Riley informed his supervisor, Grant Echols, and a production supervisor, Richard Groner, that he gave Ms. Burris his password. He gave Ms. Burris specific instructions on how and when to use the password and also told her to inform him if she did, in fact, use the password. Ms. Burris, however, did not use the password that day.

On January 13, 2012, while Mr. Riley was in Boston for training, his password was used to unlock the CV System. As a result of this incident, BSC investigated the use of Mr. Riley’s CV System username and password while he was out of town. Stephanie Sparks, BSC’s Human Resources (“HR”) Business Partner, was told that Mr. Riley had given his CV System username and password to Ms. Burris. Mr. Riley admitted this during an interview with Ms. Sparks and Kristy Fallon, another HR Business Partner. Ms. Burris also later confirmed that she used Mr. Riley’s password on January 13, 2012.

As a result, Ms. Sparks and Ms. Fallon recommended that Mr. Riley’s employment be terminated because sharing his CV System password violated several BSC policies; Mr. Echols accepted this recommendation. Mr. Riley was informed of his termination on January 20, 2012, during a meeting with Mr. Echols and Ms. Fallon. Ms. Burris was also terminated for using a username and password to unlock the CV System without authorization and falsifying a device record. The device record was falsified because the history of the product showed that Mr. Riley—not Ms. Burris—performed the unlock function.

Mr. Riley then filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that he was terminated due to his age. In the charge, Mr. Riley alleged that the individual who had terminated him committed the same policy violation for which he was fired. Mr. Riley clarified in his deposition that this allegation referred to Mr. Echols. Specifically, on January 6, 2012, Mr. Echols gave Mr. Riley a password—“Echols”—to access certain HR Excel ...

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