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Strahan v. AT&T Mobility LLC

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 13, 2017




         This action arises out of an incident at an AT&T store in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at the Cambridgeside Galleria. Plaintiff Richard Strahan, who is proceeding pro se, alleges that when he went into the AT&T store to pay his wireless phone bill, an employee called security. Off-duty Cambridge police officers employed by the Galleria arrested him for trespass.[1] The state trial court ultimately dismissed the trespass charge for lack of probable cause. Strahan now appears to assert a claim against the Galleria under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

         The Galleria has moved to dismiss the complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim and Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a) for failure to provide a short and plain statement of the claim. Strahan, in turn, has filed a motion to amend the complaint. For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss will be granted and the motion to amend will be denied.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         The following facts are as stated in the first amended complaint.

         In June 2012, Richard Strahan had a written contract with AT&T Mobility LLC for cellphone services. (Am. Compl. ¶ 29). The contract permitted him to access AT&T stores during their regular business hours to receive services from AT&T employees and make payments. (Id.).

         On June 8, 2012, Strahan visited the AT&T store at the Galleria to pay his bill. (Id. at ¶ 30). He alleges that he attempted to make his payment in cash at an automated machine toward the rear of the store when Leon Lashley, an off-duty Cambridge police officer employed as a Galleria security guard, approached him. (Id. at ¶ 31). Lashley ordered Strahan to leave the store, and he complied. (Id.). Strahan contends that neither Lashley nor any AT&T employee warned him that he would be arrested for trespass if he returned. (Id. at ¶ 32).

         On June 15, 2012, Strahan returned to the Galleria AT&T store to pay his bill. (Id. at ¶ 1). According to the complaint, when he entered the store, “[d]isgruntled AT&T employees refused his peaceful offer to pay his bill and called the Cambridge Police . . . to physically remove him from the store.” (Id.). He then left the store, but was confronted by Thomas Glynn, another off-duty Cambridge police officer employed as security by the Galleria. (Id. at ¶ 35). Strahan attempted to record the encounter with Glynn by video. (Id.). Eventually, a second security officer, Raymond Pina, approached him. (Id. at ¶ 36).

         Strahan was subsequently arrested for trespassing by Glynn and Pina. (Id. at ¶¶ 2, 8, 38). While handcuffed, he was forced against the wall by Pina. (Id. at ¶ 39). He was then held at the Cambridge police station until bail was posted. (Id. at ¶ 40). The criminal trespass charge against him was later dismissed by the Cambridge District Court for lack of probable cause. (Id. at ¶¶ 2, 41).

         B. Procedural Background

         Strahan filed the original complaint in this action on June 8, 2015, asserting claims against Officers Lashley, Glynn, and Pina. On September 20, 2016, he filed an amended complaint adding claims against, among others, AT&T and the Galleria. He subsequently stipulated to the dismissal of his claims against several defendants on November 2, 2016, leaving only the Galleria and AT&T.[2] The Galleria has now moved to dismiss the complaint.

         On June 19, 2017, Strahan moved to amend the complaint to clarify his claims against the Galleria under § 1983, and to add state-law claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, false arrest, and malicious prosecution.

         II. Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(6)

         A. Legal Standard

         On a motion to dismiss, the court “must assume the truth of all well-plead[ed] facts and give . . . plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable inferences therefrom.” Ruiz v. Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp., 496 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2007) (citing Rogan v. Menino, 175 F.3d 75, 77 (1st Cir. 1999)). To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must state a claim that is plausible on its face. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). In other words, the “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, . . . on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. at 555 (citations omitted). “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Dismissal is appropriate if the complaint fails to set forth “factual allegations, either ...

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