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Sullivan v. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance

802 F. Supp. 716 (1992)

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Sullivan v. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance

United States District Court for the District of Connecticut

802 F. Supp. 716 (1992)

Facts

John Sullivan (plaintiff) worked for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (Mass Mutual) (defendant) as an assistant securities analyst. Sullivan claimed that a coworker told him employees had had insider information on two of the stocks held by Mass Mutual, and that if Mass Mutual had not suspended trading on those two stocks, then selling the stocks would have been a securities violation. Sullivan repeatedly expressed concerns to his superiors about his liability for insider trading. Sullivan also proposed a way to insulate the trading-operations division. Sullivan was discharged, and he sued Mass Mutual, alleging he was fired because he blew the whistle on Mass Mutual’s insider-trading violations or near violations. Sullivan had failed the financial-analyst examination, and his knowledge of securities laws came from reading newspapers. Mass Mutual argued that (1) Sullivan was fired because of unsatisfactory work performance, (2) whistleblowing was protected only if the violations concerned public health or safety, (3) Sullivan himself did not discover the violations, (4) no insider trading actually occurred, (5) Sullivan only reported violations to the authorities after termination, and (6) Sullivan never told Mass Mutual that he would report suspected violations to the authorities. Sullivan argued he had a claim if he was fired for expressing his reasonable belief that Mass Mutual violated securities laws. Sullivan claimed his supervisors told him that he would be out the door if he did not drop his concerns and that everyone in the industry engaged in insider trading. Mass Mutual moved for summary judgment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cabranes, C.J.)

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