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Grenier v. Town of Shrewsbury

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 26, 2014

MATTHEW A. GRENIER, Plaintiff,
v.
TOWN OF SHREWSBURY, JOHN L. LEBEAUX, MOIRA MILLER, BRUCE R. CARD, MAURICE M. DEPALO, and JAMES A. MCCAFFREY, Defendants

Page 150

For Matthew A Grenier, Plaintiff: Dana L. Lauer, Stephen J. Gordon, Stephen Gordon & Associates, Worcester, MA.

For Town of Shrewsbury, John I. LeBeaux, individual who was a member of the Board of Selectmen for the Town of Shrewsbury, Moira Miller, individual who was a member of the Board of Selectmen for the Town of Shrewsbury, Bruce R. Card, individual who was a member of the Board of Selectmen for the Town of Shrewsbury, Maurice M. DePalo, individual who was a member of the Board of Selectmen for the Town of Shrewsbury, Defendants: Carole Sakowski Lynch, LEAD ATTORNEY, Morrison Mahoney LLP, Springfield, MA.

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MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN, DISTRICT JUDGE.

Background

Matthew A . Grenier (" Grenier" ) has filed claims against the Town of Shrewsbury

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(" Town" ), John L. LeBeaux (" LeBeaux" ), Moira Miller (" Miller" ), Bruce R. Card (" Card" ), and Maruice M. DePalo (" DePalo" and, together with Lebeaux, Miller, and Card " Board Members" )[1] under Section 1983 for violation of his due process rights (Count I), and violation of the interstate commerce clause (Count II). Grenier's claims arise out of the denial by the Town's Board of Selectmen (" Board" ) of his application for a Class 2 used car dealer license. Grenier is suing the Board Members in their individual and official capacities. His Complaint seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages.

This Memorandum and Order of Decision addresses:

(1) Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment For Count 1: Violations Of Due Process Rights Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (Docket No. 41);

(2) Defendants' Motion For Summary Judgment (Docket No. 43); and

(3) Plaintiff's Motion To Strike (Docket No. 51).

For the reason set forth below, the motion to strike is denied. Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment is denied and Defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted.

Standard of Review

Summary Judgment is appropriate where, " the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Carroll v. Xerox Corp., 294 F.3d 231, 236 (1st Cir. 2002) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). " 'A " genuine" issue is one that could be resolved in favor of either party, and a " material fact" is one that has the potential of affecting the outcome of the case.'" Sensing v. Outback Steakhouse of Florida, LLC, 575 F.3d 145, 152 (1st Cir. 2009) (quoting Calero-Cerezo v. U.S. Dep't. of Justice, 355 F.3d 6, 19 (1st Cir. 2004)).

When considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court construes the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and makes all reasonable inferences in favor thereof. Sensing, 575 F.3d at 153. The moving party bears the burden to demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact within the record. Id., at 152. " 'Once the moving party has pointed to the absence of adequate evidence supporting the nonmoving party's case, the nonmoving party must come forward with facts that show a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. (citation to quoted case omitted). " '[T]he nonmoving party " may not rest upon mere allegations or denials of the [movant's] pleading, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of material fact as to each issue upon which [s/he] would bear the ultimate burden of proof at trial." Id. (citation to quoted case omitted). The nonmoving party cannot rely on " conclusory allegations" or " improbable inferences" . Id. (citation to quoted case omitted). " 'The test is whether, as to each essential element, there is " sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party." ' " Id. (citation to quoted case omitted). " Cross-motions

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for summary judgment require the district court to 'consider each motion separately, drawing all inferences in favor of each non-moving party in turn.' " Green Mountain Realty Corp. v. Leonard, 750 F.3d 30, 38 (1st Cir. 2014)(citation to quoted case omitted).

Plaintiff's Motion To Strike

Plaintiff seeks to strike portions of Defendants' material statement of facts. More specifically, Plaintiff seeks to strike paragraphs 29-31 of the Concise Statement Of Undisputed Material Facts In Sup. Of Defs' Mot. For Sum. J. (Docket No. 45)(" Defs.' Facts" ) which refer to the decision of the Massachusetts Superior Court. He argues that because the lower court's holding was overturned by the Massachusetts Appeals Court (" MAC" ), the lower court's rationale and basis of decision are irrelevant. Plaintiff also seeks to strike Ex. M to Defs.' Facts, i.e., a copy of the Massachusetts Superior Court decision, on the same grounds. Defendants argue that the factual assertions and the copy of the lower court's decisions are relevant to Grenier's due process claims because it shows that post-deprivation remedies were available to him and that he availed himself of those remedies. The motion to strike paragraphs 29-31 of Defs.' Facts and Ex. M is denied.

Plaintiff also seeks to strike Ex. B. to Defs.' Facts, i.e., the Town's answer to interrogatories on the grounds that they are irrelevant, immaterial, hearsay and conclusory." Pl's Mot to Strike (Docket No. 57), at p. 1 Plaintiff does not cite to any specific interrogatory answers that he finds objectionable, cites no legal authority in support of his request and makes no further argument as to why the exhibit is objectionable. The motion to strike Ex. B is denied.[2]

Facts[3]

Grenier's Application For A Class 2 Used Car License

On April 12, 1999, the Board adopted Policy Number 9 entitled " Limit the number of Class 2 used car licenses to a total of twenty (20)" (" Policy 9" ). At all times relevant to this action, the following " Policy Statement Board of Selectman" was located on the Board's website:

....
1. The Board of Selectmen on April 12, 1999 voted in favor of limiting the number of Class 2 used car dealer licenses to twenty (20). The Board of Selectmen conducted a public hearing on April 5, 1999. In addition, the board received public comments by telephone and surveyed surrounding Towns. It was then determined that limiting the number of Class 2 used car dealer licenses to twenty (20) would sufficiently meet the needs of the public for the Town of Shrewsbury.
2. The Board of Selectmen will not take away current class two license holders licenses for this reason. However, as businesses move away, new licenses will not be issued to replace these.

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3. The Board of Selectmen will still be required to accept Class 2 used car dealer license applications and hold hearings but could at any time deny a request based on the public's interest already being met.
4. The policy is set by the current Board and can be subject to review and change as condition in the Town of Shrewsbury change.

Policy 9 was revised on January 8, 2001 to modify paragraph 2 as follows:

2. The Board of Selectmen will not take away current Class 2 license holders licenses for this reason. A license will be reduced when a license is surrendered and no new license application is filed for the existing location within twelve (12) months of such surrendering. The intent is to allow a property owner up to twelve (12) months to continue the Class 2 operation on the existing parcel. Once the lapse exceeds twelve (12) months then the total number of Class licenses in the Town is reduced by one (1).

On March 10, 2003, the Board voted to grant a Class 2 license to Enterprise Rent-A-Car (" Enterprise" ). There were already 20 Class 2 used car dealerships in the Town. Therefore, by approving the issuance of a Class 2 license to Enterprise, the Board exceeded the 20 Class 2 license limitation imposed by Policy 9. The Board determined that Enterprise's application was distinguishable from a standard application for a Class 2 license because Enterprise Rent-A-Car planned to rent brand new vehicles on site and then eventually sell those vehicles as used when it was time to replace them with new vehicles for rent. The Board concluded that a Class 2 license was ancillary to Enterprise's business function, which was primarily to rent vehicles. The Board set a condition that Enterprise could have a maximum of 100 vehicles on the lot with no more than 50 for sale. The Board's motion to approve the Class 2 license for Enterprise was subject to the terms and conditions of the Zoning Board of Appeals (" ZBA" ) and Planning Board.

Joseph Grenier (" Property Owner" ) is Grenier's father and the owner of real property together with the building thereon located at 787 Hartford Turnpike, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts (" Site" ). For zoning purposes, the Site is located in a Limited Industrial District (" LID" ) . On September 18, 2007, the Property Owner gave Grenier permission to conduct a business known as MAG Auto Sales at the Site. Grenier Construction Company, which is owned by the Property Owner, is also located at the Site. Grenier was planning to utilize 1,500 square feet of warehouse storage area for vehicles, as well as office space within a building that also housed Grenier Construction Company, for MAG Auto Sales.

In 2007, Grenier Construction Company d/b/a MAG Auto Sales applied for a Class 2 license to operate a used car dealership at the Site. When Grenier picked up the application from the Board office, he was told of the existence of Policy 9 by the secretary and was told that the Board was not issuing any additional licenses at that time. Before the first public hearing on Grenier's application, he also received a phone call from Board Chairman, Depalo, in which Chairman Depalo informed him that the Board had adopted a policy, which limited the number of Class 2 licenses and that the limit had already been met. Chairman Depalo also told Grenier that it was his right to still come in and present his case to the Board.

On October 15, 2007, before the start of the first hearing before the Board, Chairman Depalo informed Grenier that the

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Board had received a letter from the building inspector with respect to Grenier's application advising that the Site was located in the LID which did not permit the display and sale of motor vehicles. Consequently, Grenier was told that he would need a variance from the ZBA to allow the sale of motor vehicles on the Site. During the hearing, Grenier stated that his business would primarily involve Internet sales, but he would also have two or three vehicles at the Site. At the conclusion of the hearing, ...


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