United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
case derives from the arrest and subsequent prosecution of
Patrick Skrabec (“Patrick”), who is now deceased.
Plaintiffs Patrick and his parents, Neil and Mary Ann Skrabec
(collectively, “plaintiffs”), allege that
defendants the Town of North Attleboro, Detective Daniel
Arrighi and Officers Josh McMahon and Kevin McKeon
(collectively, “defendants”) conspired to violate
and violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and that their conduct
constituted 1) negligence 2) negligent infliction of
emotional distress and 3) malicious prosecution. Plaintiffs
further claim that defendants' conduct resulted in the
loss of consortium between Patrick and his parents.
Court allowed defendants' unopposed motion for summary
judgment on all counts and plaintiffs' motion to alter
that judgment is now before the Court. For the reasons that
follow, that motion will be denied.
Factual and Procedural Background
December, 2012, when he was 17 years old, Patrick admittedly
told his high school classmates that “he would like to
shoot up the school”. A parent of another student told
the North Attleboro Police Department that he was concerned
about safety at the school based on Patrick's comments.
Later that month, after Detective Arrighi conducted an
investigation and interviewed Patrick, he was arrested and
the Bristol County District Attorney's Office (“the
D.A.'s Office”) charged him with making a bomb or
hijack threat under M.G.L. c. 269, § 14.
D.A.'s Office issued a nolle prosequi of the
original complaint in February, 2013. Contemporaneously, it
charged Patrick with the misdemeanor offenses of threatening
to commit a crime, M.G.L. c. 275, § 2, and disturbing a
school assembly, M.G.L. c. 272, § 40. In April, 2013 the
Attleboro Division of the Massachusetts District Court
Department denied Patrick's motion to dismiss the charges
against him based on a lack of probable cause and in
February, 2014 a jury acquitted him of both charges.
following year, plaintiffs filed suit in this Court alleging
that when defendants arrested and prosecuted Patrick, they 1)
conspired to violate and violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 2)
acted negligently, 3) negligently inflicted upon him
emotional distress, 4) committed malicious prosecution and 5)
deprived plaintiffs of consortium. Defendants answered in due
course, denying all substantive allegations and raising
several affirmative defenses. In September, 2015, this Court
held a scheduling conference and instructed the parties to
file dispositive motions by October 31, 2016 and oppositions
by November 30, 2016.
October 28, 2016, defendants filed a motion for summary
dismissal of all claims against them. By late December, 2016,
eight weeks after defendants had filed their motion for
summary judgment and more than three weeks after
plaintiffs' opposition was due, plaintiffs had neither
opposed the motion nor requested an extension of time to do
so. This Court determined, based upon the unopposed motion,
that defendants were entitled to summary judgment and allowed
their motion. On December 30, 2016, plaintiffs filed a motion
to alter the judgment which defendants timely opposed and is
the subject of this memorandum and order.
Motion to Alter the Judgment
Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(1) authorizes setting aside a
judgment on the grounds of “mistake, inadvertence,
surprise, or excusable neglect.” “[E]xcusable
neglect” is a broad category that includes
“inadvertence, mistake, or carelessness, as well as 
intervening circumstances beyond the party's
control.” Nansamba v. N. Shore Med. Ctr.,
Inc., 727 F.3d 33, 38 (1st Cir. 2013) (quoting
Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v. Brunswick Assocs. Ltd.
P'ship, 507 U.S. 380, 388 (1993)).
determine whether excusable neglect has occurred with an
equitable analysis that examines the totality of the
circumstances. Id. at 38-39. Among other factors,
courts consider 1) the explanation for the delay, 2) whether
the non-movant will be prejudiced and 3) whether the party
requesting relief acted in good faith. Rivera-Velazquez
v. Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection & Ins. Co., 750
F.3d 1, 4 (1st Cir. 2014). The pivotal factor “is the
reason for the particular oversight.” Id.
(quoting Nansamba, 727 F.3d at 39). “At a bare
minimum” the party seeking to alter the judgment
“must offer a convincing explanation as to why the
neglect was excusable.” Nansamba, 727 F.3d at
39. Ultimately, a request for relief pursuant to Rule 60(b)
is “committed to the district court's sound
discretion.” Stonkus v. City of Brockton Sch.
Dep't, 322 F.3d 97, 100 (1st Cir. 2003).
many courts broadly allow relief under Rule 60(b), the First
Circuit Court of Appeals (“First Circuit”)
“has taken a harsher tack.” Davila-Alvarez v.
Escuela de Medicina Universidad Cent. del Caribe, 257
F.3d 58, 64 (1st Cir. 2001). That Court has held that Rule 60
relief is “extraordinary in nature and . . . should be
granted sparingly.” Rivera-Velazquez, 750 F.3d
at 3 (quoting Karak v. Bursaw Oil Corp., 288 F.3d
15, 19 (1st Cir. 2002)). A party requesting such relief must
demonstrate “exceptional circumstances.”
Id. (quoting Karak, 288 F.3d at 19).