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Hernandez v. City of Boston

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

April 25, 2017

MIRNA HERNANDEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF BOSTON; Commissioner of Public Works JOANNE MASSARO; Superintendent of Bridges and Buildings FOUAD HAMZEH; BEC ELECTRICAL, INC.; CORA OPERATIONS, LLC; CORA OPERATIONS, INC.; ADVANCED ALARM SYSTEMS; HARDESTY & HANOVER, LLP; HARDESTY & HANOVER, LLC; HARDESTY & HANOVER HOLDING, LLC; B&B ELECTROMATIC, INC; B&B ELECTROMATIC CORPORATION; B&B ROADWAY, LLC; and B&B ARMR, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS

          F. Dennis Saylor IV, United States District Judge

         This suit arises from the tragic death of Aura Beatriz Garcia. On December 31, 2013, Garcia was walking across the Andrew McArdle Bridge, a drawbridge in East Boston, Massachusetts, when it opened and closed, crushing her and causing her death.

         Mirna Hernandez, Garcia's sister and the personal representative of her estate, has brought suit against multiple defendants. The complaint includes claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Boston; Joanne Massaro, the Commissioner of Public Works; and Fouad Hamzeh, the Superintendent of Bridges and Buildings. The City, Massaro, and Hamzeh have each moved to dismiss the section 1983 claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the reasons stated below, those motions will be granted.

         I. Background

         The facts are set forth below as alleged in the first amended complaint.

         A. Factual Background

         1. The Parties

         The McArdle Bridge is a two-lane drawbridge in East Boston, Massachusetts, that carries Meridian Street across the Chelsea River. The bridge is owned, operated, and managed by the City of Boston. (Id. ¶ 3, 37).

         Joanne Massaro was, at all relevant times, employed by the City of Boston as the Commissioner of Public Works. (Id. ¶ 6). In that capacity, she established policies on behalf of the city's Public Works Department and was responsible for the training and supervision of all department employees. (Id.). She was also responsible for the operation and maintenance of all bridges in the city. (Id. ¶ 7).

         Fouad Hamzeh was, at all relevant times, employed by the City of Boston as the Superintendent of Bridges and Buildings. In that capacity, he implemented city policies concerning bridges and buildings, trained and supervised employees, and was responsible for the operation and maintenance of the city's bridges. (Id. ¶¶ 8-9).

         BEC Electrical, Inc., is Massachusetts corporation responsible for developing the opening and closing procedures of the McArdle Bridge as well as training city employees regarding those procedures. (Id. ¶¶ 10-11). Cora Operations, LLC, and Cora Operations, Inc., are Massachusetts corporations responsible for inspecting, servicing, and repairing the bridge. (Id. ¶¶ 12-13).

         Advanced Alarm Systems, a Massachusetts corporation, Hardesty & Hanover, LLP, a New York partnership, and Hardesty & Hanover LLC, a New York corporation, are responsible for installing and maintaining video cameras and surveillance equipment on the bridge. (Id. ¶¶ 16-23). B&B Electromatic, Inc. and B&B Electromatic Corporation, Louisiana corporations, B&B Roadway LLC, an Alabama corporation, and B&B ARMR, a Texas corporation, are responsible for installing and maintaining other equipment on the bridge. (Id. ¶¶ 24-27).

         2.The Events of December 31, 2013

         The McArdle Bridge is raised and lowered by a bridge tender, who sits in a booth close to the bridge. (Id. ¶¶ 37-38). The City's bridge policy requires that the bridge tender ensure that the bridge is cleared of any obstructions, including pedestrians or cars, before opening the bridge. (Id. ¶ 39). According to the complaint, that policy was supposed to be posted inside the bridge tender's booth. (Id. ¶ 40).

         On December 31, 2013, at approximately 12:25 p.m., Garcia walked across the bridge. (Id. ¶ 43). The spotlights on the bridge were not working. (Id. ¶ 42). The bridge tender opened the bridge while Garcia was walking across it, without first ensuring that the bride was clear of pedestrians. (Id. ¶ 44). As the bridge opened, Garcia clung to one of the bridge plates and screamed for help. (Id. ...


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