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Duhani v. Town of Grafton

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 26, 2014

TOMA DUHANI, Plaintiff,
TOWN OF GRAFTON and TIMOTHY P. MCINERNEY, in his capacity as Town Administrator of the Town of Grafton, Defendants

Page 177

For Toma Duhani, Plaintiff: Robert J. Hennigan, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Office of Robert J. Hennigan, Jr., Worcester, MA.

For Town of Grafton, Timothy P. McInerney, Defendants: Gerard T. Donnelly, LEAD ATTORNEY, Courtney E. Mayo, Hassett & Donnelly, P.C., Worcester, MA.

Page 178




Toma Duhani (" Plaintiff" or " Duhani" ) has filed a Complaint against the Town of Grafton (" Town" ) and Timothy P. McInerney, in his capacity as administrator of the Town of Grafton (" McInerney" and, together with the Town, " Defendants" ) alleging a claim under the federal civil rights act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of his procedural due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. More specifically, Duhani alleges that the proceedings whereby he was terminated from his position as the Town's Director of Public Works were fundamentally unfair because they were not conducted before an impartial hearing officer and/or were predetermined.

This Memorandum and Decision addresses Defendants, Town of Grafton and Timothy P. McInerney's Motion For Summary J. (Docket No. 20). For the reasons set forth below, that motion is granted, in part and denied, in part.

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).

Page 179


Duhani was employed as the Director of the Department of Public Works (" DPW" ) for the Town. McInerney, as the Town Administrator, is the appointing authority for the Director of the DPW. Prior to the incident which led to his termination, Duhani's interactions with McInerney were professional and the two had no issues.

Sometime in 2008, David Crouse (" Crouse" ), the Town Highway Foreman, told Duhani that the Town needed catch basin framing covers (" catch basin covers" ). Crouse was responsible for the daily operation of the DPW. Duhani told Crouse to " go ahead and get them." Crouse purchased the catch basin covers. It was Duhani's understanding that pursuant to State procurement laws, an item purchased by a municipality that costs less than $10,000 did not need to be put out for public bidding, but the municipality was required to obtain at least three quotes before purchasing the item.[1] Town policy required written purchase orders for items costing more than $2,500. The contract was then awarded to the party that met the bid specifics ( i.e. quality and amount) and submitted the lowest quote. The department ordering the item prepared the purchase order and submitted it to the Town Administrator, in this case McInerney, before sending it to the Town Accountant for payment. Duhani expected that Crouse would perform the ordering and acquiring of the catch basin covers in accordance with the aforementioned requirements. Duhani understood that the Town had obtained quotes for catch basin covers at the beginning of the fiscal year. Exceeding the purchase order limit had previously happened in the Town and within the DPW.[2]

Crouse ordered the catch basin covers. In late Fall 2008, when Duhani's assistant, Beth Thurlowe (" Thurlowe" ) received the invoices for the catch basins covers ordered by Crouse, she informed Duhani that the invoices exceeded the ...

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