United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
ERIK T. ROBINSON, Plaintiff,
MASSACHUSETTS DEPARTMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE, et al., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
ALLISON D. BURROUGHS U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
reasons set forth below, the Court (1) DENIES
plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel [ECF No. 46]; (2)
DENIES plaintiff's motion to strike the DUA
defendants' motion to dismiss [ECF No. 39]; and (3)
ALLOWS the DUA defendants' motion to dismiss and
defendant Scout MVY's motion to dismiss [ECF Nos. 37,
Erik Robinson brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(“§ 1983”), alleging that his right to due
process was violated during the adjudication of his claim
with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for unemployment
benefits. He names as defendants the chief counsel of the
Department of Unemployment Assistance (“DUA”),
David Guberman, DUA hearing officers Lillian Plaza and
Elizabeth Cloutier, and his former employer Scout MVY
Management LLC (“Scout MVY”).
3, 2015, the Court issued an order [ECF No. 7] directing the
plaintiff to show good cause why the case should not be
dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiff
filed a responsive memorandum on July 13, 2015 [ECF No. 16].
Following various amendments to the complaint, in July 2016,
the DUA defendants and defendant Scout MVY both moved to
dismiss [ECF Nos. 37, 42].
amended complaint [ECF No. 15] contains the following
allegations, which are taken as true for the purpose of the
motions to dismiss. Rodriguez-Ramos v.
Hernandez-Gregorat, 685 F.3d 34, 40 (1st Cir. 2012).
Plaintiff Robinson was employed by Scout MVY, a company that
operates and/or owns various hotels. As an employee of Scout
MVY, the plaintiff worked at the Harbor View and Kelly House
hotels in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard. In November
2012, a senior manager told the plaintiff that his employment
would be terminated in January 2013 due to a seasonal
downturn in business and corporate changes. Because Robinson
had no indication of future employment with Scout MVY and
because he was being harassed for incurring overtime, he left
his job in late December 2012 and went Park City, Utah to
search for other employment.
an unsuccessful job search in Park City, in March 2013
Robinson filed an interstate unemployment claim with the DUA
through the Utah Department of Workforce Services. The DUA
determined that Robinson was not eligible for unemployment
compensation because he left his position voluntarily,
without good cause attributable to the employer. The
plaintiff's administrative appeals were unsuccessful.
then sought judicial review of the DUA's decision in the
Edgartown District Court. The DUA was represented by David
Guberman. Scout MVY, although named as a co-defendant, did
not respond to the complaint. The state district court
entered judgment in favor of the DUA. Thereafter, the
plaintiff provided the court with documentation indicating
that, in conjunction with hearings in the case, Guberman had
stayed at Scout MVY's two hotels in Edgartown. When he
stayed at the Kelly House Hotel, Guberman received a discount
and possibly a free meal. When he stayed at the Harbor House
Hotel, many significantly less expensive hotel options were
available. Robinson alleged that Guberman's stays at the
Scout MVY hotels evidenced a pre-existing corrupt
relationship between the DUA and Scout MVY which had tainted
the administrative proceedings. Upon motion of the DUA, the
state court impounded the plaintiff's filing concerning
Guberman's stay at the Kelly House Hotel and struck the
filing concerning Guberman's stay at the Harbor House
not mentioned by the plaintiff in the amended complaint,
Robinson filed an appeal of the order upholding the DUA's
determination. Robinson v. Dir. of Dep't of
Unemployment Assistance, 2014-P-1307 (Mass. App.
Ct.). On October 27, 2014, after the state
appeals court had denied Robinson's request for indigent
status, he failed to pay the appeal fee, and the appeals
court ordered that the entry of appeal on the court's
docket be vacated. Id.
instant case, Robinson alleges that he was denied due process
because he never received a hearing from an impartial
decision maker. He claims that the DUA is biased towards
employers and against claimants, as manifested in his case by
the DUA's failure to allow him adequate discovery during
the administrative proceedings and Guberman's
relationship with Scout MVY. Robinson also claims that
judicial review of the administrative decision did not cure
the bias because M.G.L. ch. 30A, § 14, the state statute
dictating the standard of judicial review of administrative
agency decisions, requires courts to give too much deference
to the agency.
plaintiff seeks a declaration that the defendants'
conduct violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to due
process. He also asks for the unemployment benefits he claims
he should have received, as well as punitive damages.
Motion for Appointment of Counsel
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), this Court has the discretion to
appoint counsel for a party proceeding in forma
pauperis, but is not required to do so. In order to
justify the appointment of counsel, a litigant must
demonstrate “exceptional circumstances.”
Cookish v. Cunningham, 787 F.2d 1, 2 (1st Cir.
1986). To determine whether such exceptional circumstances
are present, “a court must examine the total situation,
focusing, inter alia, on the merits of the case, the
complexity of the legal issues, and the litigant's
ability to represent himself.” DesRosiers v.
Moran, 949 F.2d 15, 24 (1st Cir. 1991). Here, the
plaintiff's claims are ultimately without merit, as
discussed in ...