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Sullivan v. Flaherty

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

March 27, 2015

DANIEL E. SULLIVAN, III, Plaintiff,
v.
CAITLIN E. FLAHERTY, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

ALLISON D. BURROUGHS, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Daniel E. Sullivan, III ("Mr. Sullivan") filed this action pro se against 16 Defendants: Caitlin E. Flaherty ("Ms. Flaherty"), Mr. Sullivan's former girlfriend; 13 police officers of the Marshfield Police Department, all in both their official and individual capacities; the Marshfield Police Department, under the doctrine of respondeat superior; and the Town of Marshfield, under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Before the Court are two motions to dismiss filed by (1) the police officers, the Marshfield Police Department, and the Town of Marshfield (collectively, the "Marshfield Defendants") [ECF No. 7], and (2) Ms. Flaherty [ECF No. 12]. For the reasons explained in this Memorandum and Order, the Marshfield Defendants' motion to dismiss is GRANTED; Ms. Flaherty's motion to dismiss is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART; and Mr. Sullivan's complaint is DISMISSED in its entirety.

II. Summary of Relevant Factual Allegations

This case stems from Mr. Sullivan's two arrests and his prosecution, trial, and conviction of charges of violating a restraining order and criminal harassment of Ms. Flaherty, all of which occurred in 2011. Mr. Sullivan's complaint [ECF No. 1] includes the following factual allegations, which the Court accepts as true for purposes of a motion to dismiss.

On December 11, 2010, Ms. Flaherty requested and received a permanent restraining order against Mr. Sullivan. [Id. p. 5, ¶ 1.][1] In support of the restraining order, Ms. Flaherty signed a written statement under penalties of perjury. [Id. pp. 5-6, ¶ 2.] Mr. Sullivan alleges that Ms. Flaherty made various false statements therein. [Id. pp. 6-7, ¶ 3.]

Later on December 11, 2010, Defendant Officer Todd Goodwin ("Officer Goodwin") interviewed Mr. Sullivan at the Marshfield Police Station and served him with the restraining order. [Id. pp. 6-20.] Defendant Detective Kimberly Jones ("Detective Jones") also participated in the interview. [Id.] Following the interview, on December 11, 2010, Officer Goodwin and Detective Jones submitted a police report. [Id. p. 20, ¶ 4.] Mr. Sullivan alleges that Officer Goodwin and Detective Jones made various false statements in the police report. [Id. pp. 20-21, ¶ 4.]

On April 9, 2011, Ms. Flaherty reported to the police that she found a gift with an unsigned letter in her mail that she believed to be from Mr. Sullivan. [Id. p. 21, ¶ 1.] At the same time, she reported two prior incidents that she also believed to be connected to Mr. Sullivan: a car fire in her driveway and a box of chocolates that was left in her mail with an unsigned card on Valentine's Day. [Id. p. 22, ¶ 2.]

The next day, on April 10, 2011, Ms. Flaherty filed an affidavit alleging that Mr. Sullivan violated the restraining order and was harassing her. [Id. p. 22, ¶ 4.] Mr. Sullivan alleges that the affidavit included various false statements. [Id. pp. 22-23, ¶ 6.]

On April 10, 2011, Defendant Sergeant Kevin Morris ("Sergeant Morris") filed an application for a criminal complaint charging Mr. Sullivan with violating the restraining order and criminal harassment. [Id. p. 23, ¶ 7.] Mr. Sullivan alleges that the complaint included various false statements by Sergeant Morris and Ms. Flaherty. [Id. pp. 23-24, ¶ 7.] Later on April 10, 2011, Sergeant Morris arrested Mr. Sullivan. [Id. p. 24, ¶ 8.]

On December 4, 2011, another criminal complaint was issued charging Mr. Sullivan with violating the restraining order and criminal harassment. [Id. pp. 24-25, ¶ 1.] Mr. Sullivan alleges that the complaint included various false statements by Defendant Patrolman Timothy Cleary ("Patrolman Cleary") and Ms. Flaherty. [Id.] Later on December 4, 2011, Sergeant Morris arrested Mr. Sullivan. [Id. p. 25, ¶ 2.]

On December 8, 2011, Mr. Sullivan was tried in Plymouth District Court on charges of violating the restraining order and criminal harassment. [Id. p. 26, ¶ 1.] Defendants Ms. Flaherty, Officer Goodwin, Detective Jones, and Officer Morris all testified against Mr. Sullivan, and Mr. Sullivan alleges that they all made various false statements in their testimony. [Id. pp. 26-30.] Mr. Sullivan was convicted at the close of the trial. [Id. pp. 29-30, ¶ 42.]

On December 9, 2011, Mr. Sullivan was sentenced to 2 ½ years in the Plymouth House of Correction, with 6 months to serve, 2 ½ years of supervised probation, with court-ordered mental evaluation, court-ordered batterer's intervention, victim/witness assessment, probation fee and surcharge, and other fines and fees. [Id. p. 30, ¶ 43.]

On December 8, 2014, Mr. Sullivan filed a complaint in this Court. He brings five counts for alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983"), which are captioned "Arrest" (Count I), "Detention and Confinement" (Count II), "Strip Search" (Count III), "Conspiracy" (Count IV), and "Refusing or Neglecting to Prevent" (Count V). Mr. Sullivan brings eight additional claims under Massachusetts law for Malicious Prosecution (Count VI), Malicious Abuse of Process (Count VII), Violation of Massachusetts Civil Rights Act (Count VIII), [2] False Arrest and False Imprisonment (Count IX), Conspiracy ...


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