United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
I.U. (by his guardian Ellen Roy, Ellen Roy), and LYLE UPRIGHT, Plaintiffs,
PIONEER VALLEY CHINESE IMMERSION CHARTER SCHOOL, KATHY WANG, and REGAN HALL, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER REGARDING REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION WITH REGARD TO DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
DISMISS FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM AND MOTION FOR PARTIAL
SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DKT. NOS. 61, 68 & 101)
MICHAEL A. PONSOR U.S. District Judge
action arises from the minor Plaintiff's enrollment at
the Defendant Pioneer Valley Chinese Charter School and an
incident that occurred while he or she was attending as a
student there. In their First Amended Complaint (Dkt. No.
57), Plaintiffs (the child and the child's parents)
assert claims against the school and two of its employees for
reckless and negligent infliction of emotional distress
(Counts I and II, respectively); violation of I.U.'s
rights to procedural and substantive due process pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count III); and breach of contract
based on the provisions of the school's handbook (Count
26, 2015, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to
State a Claim regarding Counts III and IV (Dkt. No. 61),
followed on October 16, 2015, by a Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment regarding Counts I, III, and IV (Dkt. No. 68), both
of which Plaintiff opposed. No dispositive motion was filed
with regard to Count II.
court referred both motions to Magistrate Judge Katherine A.
Robertson for a report and recommendation. (Dkt. Nos. 67 and
75.) After extensions of time, the filing of supplemental
briefing, and oral argument, Magistrate Judge Robertson
issued a Report and Recommendation on June 10, 2016. (Dkt.
Robertson's recommendation was to the effect that
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss should be denied as moot,
since Defendants conceded at oral argument that the summary
judgment motion subsumed the motion to dismiss. She further
recommended that the summary judgment motion be denied as to
Count I and allowed as to Counts III and IV. With regard to
Count I, Judge Robertson found that, while the ruling was
close, sufficient facts (viewed in the light most favorable
to the non-moving party) and law supported Plaintiff's
claim for the reckless infliction of emotional distress.
not necessary to repeat the facts underlying this complaint.
They have been laid out in detail in Judge Robertson's
meticulous Report and Recommendation. Similarly, it is not
necessary for the court to restate what has been set forth
cogently in the Report and Recommendation: except for the
areas identified by Judge Robertson, the complaint lacks
adequate factual averments and legal support to go forward.
Significantly, Plaintiffs have not filed any objections to
the Report and Recommendation. Moreover, the objections filed
by Defendants challenge certain findings by Judge Robertson
only to the extent that these findings could be construed as
binding upon future proceedings. (Dkt. No. 102.)
objections will be overruled because they are unnecessary to
protect Defendants' rights. The facts summarized by Judge
Robertson in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs pertain
solely to the summary judgment motion. They will not be
binding on any future factfinder. Accordingly, upon de
novo review, the court will adopt the Report and
Recommendation and enter summary judgment for Defendants on
Count III, the federal civil rights claim, and Count IV, the
breach of contract claim.
rulings eliminate any federal cause of action from the
complaint. As Judge Robertson noted at footnote 4 of her
Report and Recommendation, they give this court discretion to
dismiss the remaining state law claims, set forth in Counts I
and II, without prejudice to their refiling in state court.
See Roche v. John Hancock Mut. Life Ins. Co., 81
F.3d 249, 256-57 (1st Cir. 1996). In determining whether to
exercise this discretion, the court must weigh
“concerns of comity, judicial economy, convenience,
fairness, and the like.” Id. at 257 (citations
omitted). Each case must be decided based on its own
particular facts, and the “preferred approach is
least two factors support dismissal without prejudice. First,
as Judge Robertson noted, pertinent Massachusetts state law,
which governs the remaining counts, remains rather
undeveloped with regard to the issues raised in this case. It
is far from clear under current state law what quantum of
evidence is required to support a claim for reckless
infliction of emotional distress in a school discipline case.
Interests of judicial comity and respect for state court
expertise make a Massachusetts court the preferable forum.
See United Mine Workers of America v. Gibbs, 383
U.S. 715, 726 (1966) (wherein the Supreme Court admonished
that “needless decisions of state law should be avoided
both as a matter of comity and to promote justice between the
parties, by procuring for them a surer-footed reading of
it is noteworthy that Plaintiffs originally filed this case
in state court. Dismissal without prejudice here will not
deprive them of their forum of choice.
upon the foregoing, the court hereby ADOPTS Magistrate Judge
Robertson's Report and Recommendation (Dkt. No. 101),
upon de novo review. Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss (Dkt. No. 61) is hereby DENIED as moot.
Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Dkt. No.
68) is DENIED as to Count I, and ALLOWED as to Counts III and
IV. Insofar as no federal claims remain, this court declines
to exercise its supplemental jurisdiction over
Plaintiffs' remaining state law claims, as set forth in