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Ward v. Bellotti

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 15, 2014

JAMES T. WARD, Plaintiff,


DENISE J. CASPER, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff James T. Ward ("Ward") has filed this lawsuit against Defendants Michael T. Bellotti, P.J. Coletta, Fred Canniff, George Green, Mary Kelly, Peter Colantuoni, Paul Gill, Rocco Bruno and Danielle Bromhower ("Defendants") alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, gross negligence, conspiracy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Compl., D. 4-1. The Defendants have moved to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). D. 7. For the reasons stated below, the motion is ALLOWED in part and DENIED in part.

II. Factual Background and Procedural History

The Court accepts the following non-conclusory allegations drawn from Ward's complaint as true for the purpose of resolving this motion and draws all reasonable inferences in Ward's favor. Ocasio-Hernández v. Fortuño-Burset , 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011). Ward is an inmate incarcerated by the State of Connecticut. D. 4-1 ¶ 1. The Defendants are employees of the Norfolk County Sheriff's Office. Id . ¶ 2. Ward's claims arise from the Defendants' alleged failure to notify him of his rights pursuant to the Interstate Agreement on Detainers ("IAD"). Article III(c) of the IAD, codified at Mass. Gen. L. 276 App. § 1-1, provides that "[t]he warden, commissioner of correction or other official having custody of the prisoner shall promptly inform him of the source and contents of any detainer lodged against him and shall also inform him of his right to make a request for final disposition of the indictment, information or complaint on which the detainer is based." If Ward had been so notified pursuant to subsection (c), he claims he would have availed himself of the rights bestowed by subsection (a):

Whenever a person has entered upon a term of imprisonment in a penal or correctional institution of a party state, and whenever during the continuance of the term of imprisonment there is pending in any other party state any untried indictment, information, or complaint on the basis of which a detainer has been lodged against the prisoner, he shall be brought to trial within one hundred eighty days after he shall have caused to be delivered to the prosecuting officer and the appropriate court of the prosecuting officer's jurisdiction written notice of the place of his imprisonment and his request for final disposition to be made of the indictment, information or complaint....

Id. Art. III(a).

On August 30, 2005, Ward was sentenced to two and half years at the Norfolk County Sheriff's Office Correctional Center ("NCSOCC"). D. 4-1 ¶ 3. On September 14, 2006, Ward was transferred to the Suffolk County House of Correction ("SCHOC") to serve his sentence. Id . ¶ 4. On February 8, 2007, the State of Connecticut issued a warrant for Ward's arrest and the Connecticut State Police lodged a detainer. Id . ¶ 5. On March 5, 2007, Ward was transferred back to the NCSOCC. Id . ¶ 7. Ward alleges he first learned of the warrant from defendant Kelly at that time, and he attempted, unsuccessfully, to obtain more information about it and the IAD. Id . ¶¶ 8-22. According to Ward, not until August 10, 2007 did he receive a copy of the warrant, and at no time was he advised of his rights under the IAD. Id . ¶¶ 24, 27.

On August 17, 2007, Ward completed his Massachusetts sentence and was transferred to Dedham District Court to answer the fugitive from justice warrant emanating from the Connecticut case. Id . ¶ 26. Defendant Colantuoni allegedly testified in the Connecticut matter on September 26, 2009 that Ward was not advised of his IAD rights. Id . ¶¶ 29-30. Ward alleges that on September 28, 2009, a Connecticut Superior Court judge found that NCSOCC authorities violated the IAD by failing to notify Ward of his IAD right to make a request for final disposition of the charges on which the Connecticut detainer was based. Id . ¶ 31.

Ward filed the instant matter in Norfolk Superior Court. D. 4-1. Ward contends that he mailed the complaint on April 11, 2012. Pl. Reply, D. 10 at 7. The Norfolk Superior Court docket entry, however, is dated February 7, 2013. D. 4 at 3. Nothing in the record explains the reason for this gap in time.

Ward's complaint contains four causes of action: gross negligence, conspiracy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and "civil rights violations." D. 4-1 ¶¶ 52-78. The Court interprets the "civil rights violations" to be a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. At bottom, Ward avers that, had he been informed of his rights under the IAD, he would have sought to serve his remaining Massachusetts sentence concurrently with his Connecticut sentence. Id . ¶ 74. As a result, he asserts that he had to serve 172 additional days in prison. Id . ¶ 75. The Defendants removed to federal court based on Ward's federal civil rights claim. D. 1.

The Defendants now move to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). They argue that Ward's claims are barred by a three-year statute of limitations and that the Defendants are immune from Ward's negligence claim under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act ("MTCA"). Def. Mem., D. 8 at 6-8.

III. Standard of Review

The Court will dismiss a complaint that fails to plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A plausible claim need not contain detailed factual allegations, but it must recite facts sufficient to at least "raise a right to relief above the speculative level... on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555. "A pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555). "Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s]' devoid of further factual enhancement.'" Id . (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 557) (alteration in original). A claim must contain sufficient factual matter that, accepted as true, allows the Court "to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id . However, "[i]n determining whether a [pleading] crosses the plausibility ...

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