United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
OPINION AND ORDER
A. O’Toole, Jr. United States District Judge
plaintiff, Friedrich Lu, acting pro se, brought this
case alleging claims stemming from what appear to be three
unrelated circumstances: an eviction of the plaintiff from
property owned by Fairfield Real Estate Management Corp.
(“Fairfield Corp.”) by the Suffolk County
sheriff’s office, the appeals process in one of the
plaintiff’s state cases, and an incident in which Tufts
University police officers removed the plaintiff from the
Tisch Library at the university. The Complaint only alleges
claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of rights
under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The
plaintiff filed a second complaint that pleads no meaningful
additional facts, but names some additional parties and adds
state law claims as well as an additional claim under Section
1983. This document was not filed with leave of the Court or
otherwise as authorized under Rule 15; it is thus not the
operative complaint. See Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 15.
However, even considering this new pleading, the
plaintiff’s claims are plainly without merit and should
the plaintiff only brings this case under federal question
jurisdiction, see 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and because
I dismiss the plaintiff’s federal claims, I do not
reach any of the plaintiff’s arguments concerning state
law that are made in his attempted amended complaint.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3).
named defendants have moved to dismiss the case. For ease of
analysis, I separate the defendants into groups: (1)
Fairfield Corp., its alleged owners and operators, Frederick
Fairfield and Heather Fairfield, and their attorney, John
Tobin (the “Fairfield defendants”); (2) the
sheriff and his deputy, Steven Tompkins and Brian Dalton; (3)
the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, its courts, and-included
only in the amended complaint-counsel for the state
Department of Mental Health, Lester Blumberg, R. Brandon
Rios, and Benjamin Golden; and (4) Tufts and the Tufts police
officers, two of whom are named in the amended pleading as
Lynda D’Andrea and Omar McGovern.
The Fairfield Defendants
to the Complaint, the plaintiff was living at a property
owned by Fairfield Corp. The Fairfield defendants allegedly
obtained a judgment of eviction concerning the property. The
plaintiff asserts a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
violation of his constitutional rights in the obtainment and
execution of this eviction. However, for all that appears,
the Fairfield defendants are private citizens. Section 1983
actions can only be brought against those acting “under
color” of law. Private parties are state actors for the
purposes of Section 1983 “[o]nly in rare circumstances,
” none of which apply here. See Estades-Negroni v.
CPC Hosp. San Juan Capestrano, 412 F.3d 1, 4-5 (1st Cir.
2005) (alteration in original) (citation omitted). The
federal claims against the Fairfield defendants are
Tompkins and Dalton
to the plaintiff, Deputy Sheriff Dalton executed the eviction
judgment obtained by the Fairfield defendants, violating the
plaintiff’s rights. The plaintiff alleges that because
the “judgment and execution did not name Lu [it] was
thus facially invalid (vis-a-vis Lu).” (Compl. ¶
I(1)(a) (dkt. no. 1).) The plaintiff was a subtenant of Bay
Cove Human Services, Inc., the lessee of the property. The
execution named only Bay Cove, although Lu in fact
participated in the eviction proceedings in the Boston
Housing Court. See Fairfield Real Estate Mgmt. Corp. v.
Bay Cove Human Servs. Inc., No. 15H84SP002082 (slip op.
at 1-2) (Mass. Housing Ct., Bos. Div. July 6,
2015). And in any event, the plaintiff has not
come close to showing how Dalton’s actions, which at
most constitute the lawful execution of a facially valid
court order, violate any constitutional right.
plaintiff’s only argument against Tompkins is that, in
exercising his powers as Sheriff of Suffolk County, Tompkins
“abdicates his authority and totally delegates all
decisions to his deputy sheriffs who operates [sic] without
supervision or restraint.” (Compl. ¶ I(1)(b).) To
the extent that the plaintiff is suing Tompkins in his
official capacity, the plaintiff cannot bring a § 1983
claim. The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department is an
arm of the state, and therefore immune under the
State’s sovereign immunity. See Gallo v. Essex Cty.
Sheriff’s Dep’t, Civil Action No.
10-10260-DPW, 2011 WL 1155385, at *4 (D. Mass. Mar. 24,
the plaintiff’s generalized grievance about how
Tompkins runs the Sheriff’s Department does not link to
a particular harm felt by the plaintiff. There is simply no
valid claim asserted.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Supreme Judicial
Court, and Counsel for the
Department of Mental Health
plaintiff complains that the Massachusetts state courts have
improperly handled his various appeals, and that the Supreme
Judicial Court “condones the practice.” (Compl.
¶ II(2).) The State, and its courts, cannot be sued in
federal court; sovereign immunity prevents it. See
U.S. Const. amend. XI; Will v. Michigan Dep’t of
State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 70-71 (1989).
plaintiff’s request to amend his complaint to
individually name the members of the Supreme Judicial Court
does not cure his problem, as sovereign immunity applies to
state officers in their official capacity. See Will,
491 U.S. at 70-71. Beyond that, judicial officers are
absolutely immune from suit in the performance of their
duties. See Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 355- 56
plaintiff makes another court-related complaint that counsel
for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health in another
of his suits in the Massachusetts Superior Court “have
colluded with [the presiding judge] to withhold a ruling
there, on Lu’s emergency motions for injunctive
relief.” (Compl. ¶ I(2).) In addition to this
allegation being conclusory, a review of the docket for the
case shows that the plaintiff’s motions were made in
August and early September 2015 and decided on September 11
(three days before the filing of this action). See Lu v.
Department of Mental ...