United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
November 10, 2015
Corrected November 14, 2015.
Richard McLaughlin, Plaintiff, Pro se, Weymouth, MA.
Boston Retirement Board, Defendant: Padraic P. Lydon, LEAD
ATTORNEY, Boston Retirement Board, Boston, MA; Timothy J.
Smyth, LEAD ATTORNEY, City of Boston Retirement Board,
City of Boston, Defendant: Erika Reis, LEAD ATTORNEY, City Of
Boston Law Department, Boston, MA.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Defendant: Julia E. Kobick,
LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of the Attorney General, Boston, MA;
Ricardo Brandon Rios, LEAD ATTORNEY, Massachusetts Attorney
General's Office, Boston, MA.
D. Burroughs, District Judge.
Richard McLaughlin filed his complaint in this action on
March 12, 2015. [ECF No. 1 (" Complt." ).]
McLaughlin, a retired Boston firefighter, alleges widespread
misconduct by the three defendants--the Boston Retirement
Board (" Retirement Board" ), the City of Boston
(" Boston" ), and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
(the " Commonwealth" )--in connection with his
retirement and accidental disability benefit payments. All
three defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint, [ECF
Nos. 31, 37, & 65], and on October 27, 2015, the Court
granted the Commonwealth's motion to dismiss for lack of
jurisdiction. [ECF No. 77.] Now before the Court are the
Retirement Board and Boston's motions to dismiss. For the
foregoing reasons, both motions are GRANTED and all other
pending motions in this case are DENIED as MOOT.
retired from the Boston Fire Department in 1997 after
suffering a broken leg. Complt. ¶ ¶ 1, 7;
McLaughlin v. Contributory Retirement Appeal Bd., Civil
Action No. 2012-04354-D, Id.
*1 (Mass. Super. Jan. 13, 2014). Starting on January
31, 2000, McLaughlin began receiving accidental disability
retirement benefits from the Retirement Board, pursuant to
Mass. Gen. Law ch. 37, § 7. Contributory Retirement
Appeal Bd. In January 2009, while still receiving those
benefits, a jury convicted McLaughlin of operating under the
influence of intoxicating liquor (" OUI" ) and
negligent operation to endanger. See McLaughlin v.
MacDonald, No. CIV.A. 11-11587-JLT, 2013 WL 4679604, at
*1 (D. Mass. Aug. 29, 2013) (habeas opinion summarizing
McLaughlin's previous criminal proceedings). By a
subsequent jury-waived trial, the judge found the OUI
conviction to be McLaughlin's third such offense and
sentenced him to two and a half years of incarceration under
Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 90, § 24(1)(a)(1). See id. The
Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed his conviction in 2011
and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court denied further
review. Commonwealth v. McLaughlin, 79 Mass.App.Ct.
670, 670, 948 N.E.2d 1258 (2011), rev. denied 460 Mass. 1110,
951 N.E.2d 350 (2011). McLaughlin filed two petitions for a
Writ of Habeas Corpus, which were both denied. McLaughlin
v. Gillen, No. CIV.A. 11-10746-NMG, 2011 WL 2746459 (D.
Mass. July 8, 2011); MacDonald,
2013 WL 4679604. He was released on parole on October 4,
2011. See MacDonald, 2013 WL
4679604, at *2-3.
about July 15, 2011, the Retirement Board became aware of
McLaughlin's incarceration and stopped paying his
accidental disability benefit payments. Contributory
Retirement Appeal Bd. The Retirement Board subsequently
entered into an agreement with McLaughlin, in which he agreed
to repay the $115,974.30 in benefits he received from January
15, 2009 (when he was first incarcerated) to July 15, 2011
(when the Retirement Board learned he was incarcerated). [ECF
No. 83-1, at 4.] The Retirement Board acted pursuant to
Mass. Gen. Laws c. 32, § 7(2)(d), which provides that:
Payments to a member retired under the provisions of this
section who is incarcerated for having been convicted of a
felony committed on or after the effective date of this
paragraph shall cease for the period of such member's
incarceration. Under no circumstances shall such payments be
recoverable by such member after such period of
later requested a waiver of repayment and on December 2,
2011, the Retirement Board held a hearing on McLaughlin's
request. [ECF No. 83-1, at 1.] The Hearing Officer
recommended that McLaughlin's request for waiver be
denied and in February 2012, the Retirement Board adopted his
recommendation. [ECF No. 83-1, 83-2.] The Hearing Officer
found that " the Legislature has made it abundantly
clear through its use of the phrase -- 'under no
circumstances' -- that it did not want to provide
retirement boards with the discretion to award accidental
disability retirement benefits to members while they were
incarcerated on account of a felony conviction." [ECF
No. 83-1, at 7.] Accordingly, McLaughlin " could not be
relieved of his obligation to repay benefits received while
he was incarcerated on account of Board error, as there was
none." Id. at 6.
appealed the Retirement Board's decision to the
Contributory Retirement Appeals Board (" CRAB" ),
which assigned the matter to the Division of Administrative
Appeals (" DALA" ). Contributory Retirement Appeal
Bd. After both sides filed cross-motions for a summary
decision, the DALA affirmed the Retirement Board's
decision to deny McLaughlin's request for waiver.
Id. On October 1, 2012, the CRAB received a letter
from McLaughlin with objections to the DALA decision and a
request for additional time to file documents. Id.
The CRAB denied McLaughlin's request and determined that
it lacked jurisdiction to hear an appeal of the DALA
decision, since McLauhlin had sent the letter outside the
fifteen-day appeals window. Id. at
*3-4 (citing Mass. Gen. Laws. ch. 32, § 16
(4)). In a January 13, 2014 opinion, the Suffolk County
Superior Court affirmed the CRAB's finding that
McLaughlin's appeal was untimely. Though it did not need
to reach the merits of McLaughlin's claim, the Superior
Court noted that even had McLaughlin filed his appeal on
time, he would not have prevailed. There was " no proper
basis to ...