Heard: March 7, 2016.
action commenced in the Superior Court Department on August
13, 2007. Following review by the Appeals Court, 84
Mass.App.Ct. 1109 (2013), a motion for postjudgment interest
was considered by Paul E. Troy, J., and judgment was
entered by him.
review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court
granted leave to obtain further appellate review.
Jonathan J. Margolis (Beth R. Myers with him) for the
A. VanderWeele, Assistant Attorney General, for the Office of
the Commissioner of Probation.
Goodwin, for Massachusetts Employment Lawyers Association
& others, amici curiae, submitted a brief.
Present: Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk,
& Hines, JJ.
case, we consider whether sovereign immunity bars a plaintiff
who is awarded punitive damages, costs, and attorney's
fees as part of a judgment under G. L. c. 151B, § 9,
from recovering postjudgment interest on those awards from a
public employer. The trial judge denied a request by the
plaintiff, Helen Brown, for such interest, concluding that
sovereign immunity has not been waived with respect to such
interest, and judgment was entered accordingly. A divided
panel of the Appeals Court affirmed the judgment, see
Brown v. Office of the Commissioner of
Probation, 8 7 Mass.App.Ct. 72 9, 7 35 (2015), and we
allowed the plaintiff's application for further appellate
review. Because we conclude that G. L. c. 151B, § 9,
does not waive sovereign immunity from liability for
postjudgment interest, either expressly or by necessary
implication, we affirm.
recite only those facts necessary for understanding in
context the question of law at issue here. The plaintiff and
a colleague sued the defendant, the office of the
Commissioner of Probation, for sex discrimination, race
discrimination, and retaliation, pursuant to the procedure
set forth in G. L. c. 151B, § 9. On February 9, 2011, a
Superior Court jury found for the plaintiff on her
retaliation claim,  and awarded $6, 000 in compensatory
damages and $500, 000 in punitive damages. The award of
punitive damages was reduced to $108, 000 by an order of
remittitur. On January 18, 2012, the office of the
Commissioner of Probation additionally was ordered to pay
$233, 463.48 in attorney's fees and $13, 294.47 in costs
related to the trial. Following a decision by the Appeals Court
affirming the order of remittitur,  judgment after rescript was
entered on March 12, 2014. That judgment, which provided for
prejudgment interest and was paid in full on July 15, 2014,
did not provide for the requested postjudgment
plaintiff contends that her request for postjudgment interest
on punitive damages, costs, and attorney's fees should
have been granted, because G. L. c. 151B generally waives
sovereign immunity with respect to such
interest. As that argument presents a question of
law, we consider it de novo. See Commonwealth
v. Spencer, 465 Mass. 32, 46 (2013).
general rule of law with respect to sovereign immunity is
that the Commonwealth or any of its instrumentalities
'cannot be impleaded in its own courts except with its
consent, and, when that consent is granted, it can be
impleaded only in the manner and to the extent expressed [by]
statute.'" DeRochev.Massachusetts Comm'n Against Discrimination, 447
Mass. 1, 12 (2006), quoting General Elec. Co.
v.Commonwealth, 329 Mass. 661, 664 (1953).
While G. L. c. 235, § 8, provides for postjudgment
interest against private entities for "[e]very judgment
for the payment of money, " that statute does not apply
to claims against the Commonwealth or its subdivisions. See
Onofriov.Department of Mental
Health, 411 Mass. 657, 660 n.5 (1992), citing C
& M Constr. Co. v.Commonwealth,
396 Mass. 390, 393 (1985). Thus, public employers are not
liable for postjudgment interest unless some other statute
clearly waives sovereign ...