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Perez v. O'Brien

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

February 21, 2017

LUIS PEREZ, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROL HIGGINS O'BRIEN and MICHAEL CORSINI, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

          ALLISON D. BURROUGHS U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         On February 1, 2016, Plaintiff Luis Perez filed an Amended Complaint alleging that the defendants, employees of the Massachusetts Department of Correction, violated his constitutional rights while he was incarcerated. [ECF No. 45]. On March 11, 2016, Defendant Michael Corsini filed a motion to dismiss based on Plaintiff's alleged failure to effectuate service [ECF No. 50] and Defendant Higgins O'Brien filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) [ECF No. 52], which Defendant Corsini joined [ECF No. 52 at 1 n.1]. For the reasons stated herein, Defendant Higgins O'Brien's motion to dismiss [ECF No. 52] is GRANTED, and Defendant Corsini's motion to dismiss [ECF No. 50] is DENIED as moot.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following facts are drawn from Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. For the purposes of a motion to dismiss, the Court accepts all factual allegations in the complaint as true. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         In November 2006, Plaintiff was an inmate housed at the Bay State Correctional Center (“BSCC”) in Norfolk, Massachusetts. On November 24, Plaintiff received a letter stating that he owed $7, 140 stemming from litigation in the Quincy District Court concerning a motor vehicle accident.[1] On or about that same day, Plaintiff wrote a letter to the then-Superintendent of the BSCC, Defendant Michael Corsini, “asking him to investigate and correct the problem” to avoid having his inmate account frozen. On December 9, 2006, Plaintiff was notified that a disciplinary report had been filed. Thereafter, on December 11, 2006, Plaintiff wrote a second letter to Defendant Corsini. Later that same day, Plaintiff lost consciousness and suffered injuries to his head and nose. Plaintiff was then transported to an outside hospital where he received treatment.

         After leaving the hospital on December 11, Plaintiff was transported back to the BSCC. Shortly after arriving at the BSCC, and without exiting the transport vehicle, Plaintiff was transferred to MCI-Concord. Plaintiff alleges that, during the two-and-a-half hour ride from the BSCC to MCI-Concord, a chain was placed across his stomach which “dug in” and caused pain and red marks that turned into bruises. He also claims that he had high blood pressure and the transfer and ride were stressful.

         On January 26, 2007, Plaintiff was served with notice of a disciplinary hearing. The disciplinary hearing was held on February 5, 2007. At the hearing, the reporting officer testified that the disciplinary proceedings resulted from Plaintiff's original November 24, 2006 letter to Defendant Corsini; however, this letter was excluded from the hearing while the December 11, 2006 letter was admitted. The Hearing Officer found Plaintiff guilty of the charges of attempted extortion and blackmail and sanctioned him to 30 days loss of canteen and 30 days loss of telephone.

         Plaintiff appealed the disciplinary decision to the superintendent; the appeal was denied on February 8, 2007. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a civil complaint in Suffolk Superior Court on April 27, 2007. The Superior Court entered judgment on a motion for judgment on the pleadings on July 18, 2012, finding (1) there was evidence in the administrative record sufficient to support the Hearing Officer's finding of guilt, (2) Plaintiff's due process rights were not violated because he was provided with the documentation attached to the initial disciplinary report and a hearing, and (3) the sanctions imposed “did not trigger any constitutional protections or deprive the Plaintiff of any due process.” [ECF No. 53-2]. Plaintiff appealed, and the Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the Superior Court's decision on October 17, 2013. See Perez v. Commissioner of Correction, 995 N.E.2d 843 (Mass. App. Ct. 2013).

         On January 8, 2014, Plaintiff filed the original Complaint in the instant action. [ECF No. 1]. Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on February 1, 2016. [ECF No. 45]. On March 11, 2016, Defendants filed the two motions to dismiss at issue here. [ECF Nos. 50 and 52].

         II. DISCUSSION

         a. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires a plaintiff to plead “a short plain statement of the claim” that will provide a defendant with “fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). The complaint need not contain “detailed factual allegations, ” however, “more than labels and conclusions, [or] a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” are required. Id. In evaluating a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts and analyzes “those facts in the light most hospitable to the plaintiff's theory, and drawing all reasonable inferences for the plaintiff.” United States ex. rel. Hutcheson v. Blackstone Med., Inc., 647 F.3d 377, 383 (1st Cir. 2011). “A suit will be dismissed if the complaint does not set forth ‘factual allegations, either direct or inferential, respecting each material element necessary to sustain recovery under some actionable legal theory.'” Id. at 384 (quoting Gagliardi v. Sullivan, 513 F.3d 301, 305 (1st Cir. 2008)). The factual allegations, when taken as true, “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         b. Statute of Limitations

         Defendants first argue that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint should be dismissed because it is barred by the statute of limitations. [ECF No. 53 at 3]. “A defendant can raise the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense in a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss so long as the underlying factual basis for the defense is ‘clear on the face of the plaintiff's pleadings.'” Arcieri v. New York Life Ins. Co., ...


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