Badrinauth v. Metlife Corp., 030910 FED3, 09-2631

Docket Nº:09-2631
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM.
Party Name:SURESH BADRINAUTH, Appellant, v. METLIFE CORPORATION; VIRGEL AQUINO
Judge Panel:Before: SMITH, FISHER and GARTH, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:March 09, 2010
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

SURESH BADRINAUTH, Appellant,

v.

METLIFE CORPORATION; VIRGEL AQUINO

No. 09-2631

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

March 9, 2010

NOT PRECEDENTIAL

Submitted Pursuant to Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a) March 8, 2010.

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (D.C. Civil Action No. 04-cv-2552) District Judge: Honorable Peter G. Sheridan.

Before: SMITH, FISHER and GARTH, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

PER CURIAM.

Appellant Suresh Badrinauth appeals from the District Court's April 2, 2008 order, as amended by its April 7, 2008 order, denying in part Defendants' motion for summary judgment without prejudice. He further appeals from the District Court's May 7, 2009 order granting Defendants' renewed motion for summary judgment. We will affirm both rulings.

I.

In 1996, Badrinauth began employment with Nathan & Lewis Company ("NL"). In 2002, NL was acquired by Defendant Metropolitan Life Insurance Company ("MetLife"), and Badrinauth became an employee of MetLife until he was discharged from the company in June 2003. At some point between December 2001 and January 2002, Badrinauth met with Defendant Virgel Aquino1 and a member of MetLife's human resources department to discuss the transition of employees from NL to MetLife. At that time, Badrinauth was offered, and he accepted, a position as a Cashiering Manager in the BDRC. He reported directly to Robert Costello, who reported to Aquino.

Badrinauth alleges that in or around May 2002, he became aware that MetLife was not paying its employees overtime pay at the required rate. Badrinauth alleges that he raised the issue with Robert Costello on two occasions – in May 2002 and February 2003. He also alleges that he threatened to inform the Department of Labor ("DOL") about the issue, but that he never reported the alleged violations to the DOL or any other agency. MetLife avers that it became independently aware of the concerns raised by certain employees regarding the calculation of overtime pay and issued supplemental payments to the affected employees.

Around May 2002, Badrinauth, along with his fiancée, opened a personal brokerage account with MetLife. In or around June 2003, during a routine review of employee accounts, Aquino noticed that Badrinauth had a negative balance in the account. Aquino also noticed other irregularities with the account. As a result of Aquino's findings, MetLife commenced a formal investigation. The investigation revealed that Badrinauth had changed, without authorization, the address on the account from his fiancée's home address to his own home address. Badrinauth then made a series of withdrawals from the account even though he was required to obtain written approval from his fiancée before doing so. Badrinauth's fiancée testified at her deposition that she was not aware of all of the withdrawals that Badrinauth made from the account. MetLife's investigation also revealed that in February 2003 and May 2003, Badrinauth made several improper securities transactions involving the account.

In June 2003, Badrinauth met with MetLife investigators as well as Aquino. When asked about the February 2003 and May 2003 transactions, Badrinauth admitted that he made the transactions and that he also circumvented proper procedure for requesting a change of address. Badrinauth claimed, however, that his fiancée had authorized the withdrawals. At the conclusion of the meeting, Aquino suspended Badrinauth's employment pending the conclusion of MetLife's investigation. On June 30, 2003, Aquino terminated Badrinauth's employment due to Badrinauth's ethical and policy violations.

Following his termination, Badrinauth brought a civil action in the District Court against MetLife and Aquino. In his February 2006 amended complaint, Badrinauth raised state and federal claims of racial discrimination and a hostile work environment as well as a state law claim of wrongful termination against MetLife.2 Badrinauth also asserted a claim of defamation against both MetLife and Aquino. In March 2007, MetLife and Aquino moved for summary judgment on all of Badrinauth's claims. Soon thereafter, Badrinauth withdrew his claims of discrimination and a hostile work environment.

In an April 2008 decision,3 the District Court dismissed Badrinauth's defamation claim against MetLife and Aquino, but denied, without prejudice, MetLife's motion for summary judgment on Badrinauth's wrongful termination claim. In denying MetLife's motion as to that claim, the District Court instructed MetLife that it could renew its motion after the New Jersey Supreme Court rendered a...

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