Myles J. Connor
District Attorney for the Norfolk District No. 137272
Michael D. Ricciuti, Justice of the Superior Court.
plaintiff, Myles J. Connor (" Connor"), brought
this action for declaratory relief pursuant to G.L.c. 231A
against the District Attorney for the Norfolk District
(" District Attorney") seeking a declaration that
he is the owner of certain property (" the
Property") which was seized during execution of a search
warrant in 1985 and held by the District Attorney. Connor
also seeks an injunction preventing the District Attoney from
exercising further control over the Property.
District Attorney acknowledges it still possesses at least
some of the Property and concedes that the Property is no
longer needed for any trial. Nonetheless, the District
Attorney moves for summary judgment on Connor's claims,
alleging that his action should be governed by the three-year
statute of limitations applicable to replevin actions and was
filed too late, and, in any event, should be barred under the
doctrine of laches.
consideration of the parties' memoranda of law and oral
arguments, and for the reasons that follow, the Court
concludes that genuine issues of material fact exist
regarding the statute of limitations that may be applicable
in this case. Accordingly, the District Attorney's motion
for summary judgment is DENIED .
following relevant facts are either undisputed or presented
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, in accordance
with the dictates of Mass.R.Civ.P. 56.
March 8, 1985, the Quincy Police Department executed a valid
search warrant at 48 Burt Street in Dorchester. As a result
of the search, the police seized the Property, which included
antique guns, swords, and Persian rugs. Connor was informed
that the police seized the Property sometime in 1985.
2000, Connor contacted the District Attorney by telephone
regarding the Property, asserting a claim of ownership to it.
Thereafter, an oral and written dialogue about Connor's
claim to the Property ensued. During that dialogue, the
District Attorney did not contend that Connor had waited too
long to make his claim. Following several years of
communications, on December 17, 2008, the District Attorney
rejected Connor's ownership claim and request for return
of the Property, asserting that he had failed to demonstrate
that he was the true owner of the Property. The District
Attorney did not institute any legal action regarding the
Property thereafter. No others have come forward to claim
ownership of the Property.
December 12, 2013, Connor's attorney contacted the
defendant again, requesting to meet about his claim to the
states that he acquired certain of the Property at issue from
his grandfather, Charles Johnson, after he died. Johnson did
not have a will. Connor also states that he purchased some of
the Property from an antiques dealer, Timothy Steinmetz.
Connor does not have any receipts for the alleged purchases
from Steinmetz but provided an affidavit purportedly signed
by Steinmetz in 2007 in which Steinmetz states that purchased
items on behalf of Connor or had observed items in
Connor's possession, all of which are generally
consistent with the Property. Steinmetz died sometime after
2007, after the District Attorney was made aware of his
potential knowledge of relevant facts. No effort was made by
the District Attorney to interview or otherwise preserve Mr.
Steinmetz's potential testimony. Connor also states that
he purchased certain items of the Property in Maine but has
no receipts for those alleged purchases.
October 1, 2014, the plaintiff filed the instant action.
judgment is appropriate when the record shows that "
there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law." Mass.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also DuPont v.
Comm'r of Correction, 448 Mass. 389, 397, 861 N.E.2d
744 (2007). The moving party bears the initial burden of
demonstrating that there is no triable issue and he is
entitled to judgment. NG Bros. Constr., Inc. v.
Cranney, 436 Mass. 638, 644, 766 N.E.2d 864 (2002),
citing Pederson v. Time, Inc., 404 Mass. 14, 17, 532
N.E.2d 1211 (1989); Kourouvacilis v. Gen. Motors
Corp., 410 Mass. 706, 716, 575 N.E.2d 734 (1991). In
reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court views the
evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party
and draws all reasonable inferences in his favor. Jupin
v. Kask, 447 Mass. 141, 143, 849 N.E.2d 829 (2006),
citing Coveney v. President & Trustees of the College
of the Holy Cross, 388 Mass. 16, 17, 445 N.E.2d 136
(1983); see also Simplex Techs., Inc. v. Liberty Mut.
Ins. Co., 429 Mass. 196, 197, 706 N.E.2d 1135 (1999).
action is for declaratory relief. The purpose of the
declaratory judgment statute, G.L.c. 231A, is " to
remove, and to afford relief from, uncertainty and insecurity
with respect to rights, duties, status and other legal
relations." G.L.c. 231A, § 9. There is no statute
of limitations applicable to declaratory actions; instead,
the Court looks to the statute that applies to the underlying
dispute. See, e.g., Page v. LeRoux, 43 Mass.App.Ct.
708, 711, 685 N.E.2d 1205 (1997). The statute of limitations
begins when an actual controversy arises between the ...