United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
RUSSELL JARVIS; JAMES JARVIS; ROBERT CRAMPTON; and COMMONWEALTH SECOND AMENDMENT, INC., Plaintiffs,
VILLAGE GUN SHOP; and SECRETARY ANDREA CABRAL, in her Official Capacity as Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, Defendants
For Russell Jarvis, James Jarvis, Robert Crampton, Commonwealth Second Amendment, Inc., Plaintiffs: David D. Jensen, PRO HAC VICE, David Jensen PLLC, New York, NY; Patrick M. Groulx, Donahue Grolman & Earle, Boston, MA.
For Mary Elizabeth Heffernan, Secretary, in her Official Capacity as Secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, Defendant: David R. Marks, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of the Attorney General, Boston, MA.
For Village Gun Shop, Inc., doing business as Village Vault, Defendant: Wayne M. LeBlanc, LEAD ATTORNEY, David J. Kneeland, Jr., Glickman Sugarman Kneeland & Gribouski, Worcester, MA.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
William G. Young,
The Plaintiffs James Jarvis, Russell Jarvis, Robert Crampton, and Commonwealth Second Amendment Inc. (" the Owners" ) bring this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against the defendants Village Gun Shop and Andrea Cabral, Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. The Owners allege that Secretary Cabral and Village Gun Shop violated their Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process of the law. The Owners move for partial summary judgment, asking the Court to rule that Village Gun Shop is a state actor, and it may be liable under section 1983 for damages stemming from a violation of due process.
II. Legal Framework
A. Relevant Statutory Framework for Firearm Ownership in Massachusetts
Massachusetts law requires that an individual obtain a Firearms Identification Card in order to possess, transfer or carry a firearm. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § § 129B, 129C. A Firearm Identification Card can be suspended or revoked under specific circumstances defined by statute. See Id. at § § 129B, 131(d),(f). Additionally, a Firearms Identification Card expires if not renewed within the time required by statute. Id. at § § 129B, 131(i).
If a Firearms Identification Card is suspended or revoked the former card holder must surrender all firearms and the police are authorized to confiscate both the invalid
card and any weapons the previous card holder possesses. See Id. at § § 129B, 131(m). Once the owner surrenders the firearms, he or she may arrange for the property to be sold or transferred to a licensed person. Id. at § 129D. The police must hold the seized firearms for one year, but they are not required to maintain physical possession of the firearms for that entire year. Id. The police may transfer the firearms to a licensed bonded warehouse for storage. Id. Upon transfer, the bonded warehouse must: inspect the item, issue the owner a receipt identifying the item as required by statute, and store the items in accordance with licensing and statutory requirements. Id. Upon transfer to the bonded warehouse, the property owner becomes liable for " reasonable" storage fees. Id. If the owner has not paid the fees for ninety days, and fails to arrange for a lawful transfer of the property, the bonded warehouse may auction the property to recover its fees. Id.
A. Summary Judgment
The Owners ask this Court to grant partial summary judgment and rule that Village Gun Shop is a state actor and is thus liable for any violation of the Owner's Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. Pls. Mem. Law Supp. Partial Summ. J. Against Village Gun Shop, Inc. (" Pls.' Mem." ) 1, ECF No. 33. " The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. " Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The facts recounted below - on which the Court bases its decision - are undisputed.
III. Factual Background
A. James Jarvis
James Jarvis (" James" ) is a gun owner residing in Cheshire, Massachusetts. Pls.' Statement Undisp. Material Facts (" Pls.' Facts" ) ¶ 1, ECF No. 34. Prior to July 9, 2010, James held a valid Firearm Identification Card. Am. Compl. 7, ECF No. 5. On July 9, 2010, Massachusetts State Police arrested James for assault and battery on his wife. Def. Sec'y Pub. Safety Statement Mat. Facts Resp. Pls.' Statement Material Facts(" Def's Facts" ) ¶ 6, ECF No. 66. On the same day, the North Adams District Court issued a temporary order of protection. Pls.' Facts ¶ 19. As a result of the restraining order, pursuant to state law, the police seized over thirty firearms, ammunition, and other weapons present at James's residence. Pls.' Facts ¶ 33; Def.'s Facts ¶ 6. Additionally, on July 9, 2010, James appeared in the North Adams District Court, where a judge reviewed the restraining order issued that same morning. Def.'s Facts ¶ 8. The judge extended the order of protection until August 9, 2010, and set a hearing for that date. Id.
James appeared at the August 9, 2010 hearing, represented by counsel. Id. at ¶ 9. The judge again extended the order of protection for approximately one year until August 2, 2011. Id. Although James had been a licensed firearm carrier, his license was revoked as a result of the restraining order. Pls.' Facts ¶ 5. Pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 209A, § 3B, state police seized the firearms present at James's home. Id. at ¶ 22. Additionally, the police notified James in writing that due to the restraining order, his Firearms Identification Card was suspended, and section 129D applied to the seizure of his firearms. Def. Sec'y Pub. Safety's Mem. Opp'n Pls.'
Mot. Partial Summ. J. Against Village Gun Shop, Inc. d/b/a Village Vault (" Def's Mem. Opp'n" ) 6, ECF No. 65. Police held the seized firearms until August 11, 2010, at which time they transferred the firearms to Village Gun Shop, a licensed bonded warehouse operating in Northboro, Massachusetts. Pls.' Mem. 5; Pls.' Facts ¶ 49.
Village Gun Shop received James's seized firearms from the police on August 11, 2010. Pls.' Facts ¶ 49. On that same day, Village Gun Shop sent James a receipt of the inventoried items and a written policy governing the associated fees. Def.'s Mem. Opp'n 7. James did not pay, however, and storage fees accrued totaling $5,634.25. Pls.' Mem. 8; Pls.' Facts ¶ ¶ 47, 48. Village Gun Shop sent James written notice that the firearms would be auctioned to cover the storage fees if he failed to pay. Def.'s Mem. Opp'n 7. Village Gun Shop auctioned the firearms on May 21, ...