United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
PETER A. CRAWFORD, Plaintiff,
CELIA BLUE, individually and in her official capacity as the Massachusetts Registrar of Motor Vehicles, and RACHEL KAPRIELIAN, individually and in her official capacity as the former Massachusetts Registrar of Motor Vehicles, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
WILLIAM G. YOUNG, DISTRICT JUDGE.
A. Crawford (“Crawford”) filed this action
against Celia Blue and Rachel Kaprielian, current and former
Massachusetts Registrars of Motor Vehicles (collectively, the
“Defendants”), under 42 U.S.C. section 1983, for
violation of his rights under the federal and Massachusetts
state constitutions in connection with a speeding ticket and
the ensuing revocation of his Massachusetts operating
privileges. Crawford alleges two separate due process
violations: first, with respect to the nonrefundable $25
filing fee required to appeal a civil motor vehicle
infraction (“CMVI”) under Massachusetts General
Laws, chapter 90C, section 3, and second, for the suspension
of his Massachusetts operating privileges under the same
state law. The parties filed cross-motions for summary
filed an amended complaint on August 4, 2014. Am. Compl., ECF
No. 6. After hearing the Defendants' motion to dismiss on
November 19, 2014, this Court dismissed the complaint except
for the count alleging a due process violation. Electronic
Clerk's Notes, ECF No. 12. The Court later granted
summary judgment after a hearing on April 8, 2015. Electronic
Clerk's Notes, ECF No. 32. On appeal, the First Circuit
remanded the case for a closer examination of the
Mathews factors on Crawford's procedural due
process claim. J. United States Ct. Appeals (“J.
USCA”) 2 & n.1, ECF No. 42 (citing Mathews
v. Eldridge 424 U.S. 319, 334-35 (1976)).
further discovery, the parties have now filed cross-motions
for summary judgment and supporting memoranda. Pl.'s Mem.
Supp. Mot. Summ. J. (“Pl.'s Mem.”), ECF No.
57; Pl.'s Mem. Opp'n Defs.' Cross Mot. Summ. J.
and Reply Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. (“Pl.'s
Reply”), ECF No. 74; Defs.' Mem. Law Opp'n
Pl.'s Mots. Summ. J. (“Defs.' Mem.”), ECF
No. 70. The parties have also submitted statements of fact
and counterstatements of fact. Pl.'s Local Rule 56.1
Statement Undisputed Material Facts Supp. Mot. Summ. J.
(“Pl.'s Statement Facts”), ECF No. 58;
Pl.'s Resp. Defs.' Local Rule 56.1 Statement Material
Facts (“Pl.'s Resp. Facts”), ECF No. 75;
Defs.' Local Rule 56.1 Statement Material Facts
(“Defs.' Statement Facts”), ECF No. 72;
Defs.' Resp. Pl.'s Local Rule 56.1 Statement Facts
(“Defs.' Resp. Facts”), ECF No. 73. The Court
heard oral arguments on the parties' cross-motions on
July 14, 2017. Electronic Clerk's Notes, ECF No. 80.
Undisputed Factual Background
19, 2011, a police officer issued Crawford, a resident of
Rye, New Hampshire, a speeding citation in the amount of $140
for driving 34 mph in a 20 mph zone in Salem, Massachusetts.
Pl.'s Statement Facts ¶ 1; Defs.' Statement
Facts ¶ 1. Crawford timely requested a hearing
challenging the citation, but did not include the $25 filing
fee because the fee was not mentioned on the ticket.
Defs.' Statement Facts ¶ 2. On August 2, 2011, the
Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (the
“Registry”) responded to Crawford's hearing
request by mail, informing him that pursuant to Massachusetts
General Laws, chapter 90C, section 3(A)(4), scheduling a CMVI
hearing requires the payment of a $25 court filing fee.
Id. ¶ 3. Crawford responded to the letter on
August 15, 2011, refusing to pay the filing fee on the ground
that it violated his state and federal constitutional rights.
Id. ¶ 4. On August 22, 2011, a Registry
employee called Crawford regarding his citation, explaining
the requirements under the state law, and advised Crawford
that the failure to pay the citation's assessment would
result in the suspension of his Massachusetts driving
privileges, which could affect his New Hampshire license.
January 3, 2012, the Registry mailed Crawford a second notice
regarding his Massachusetts driving privileges, advising him
that his privileges would be suspended, effective February 2,
2012, because he had defaulted on the July 19, 2011 citation,
and informing him that to avoid the suspension, he would have
to pay the citation and late fees or appear at a Registry
office. Id. ¶ 7. Crawford had moved from Nashua
to Rye, New Hampshire in August 2010, Pl.'s Statement
Facts ¶ 1, and did not receive the notice because the
Registry sent it to his old address in Nashua, Defs.'
Statement Facts ¶ 7. Having received no payment, the
Registry suspended Crawford's Massachusetts operating
privileges on February 12, 2012. Id. ¶ 8. The
New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles declined to renew
Crawford's New Hampshire driver's license on April
18, 2012, because the Massachusetts Registry's entry of
suspension triggered an electronic report to the National
Driver Registry. Id. ¶¶ 9-10.
than challenge the Massachusetts suspension, Crawford pursued
administrative and judicial remedies in New Hampshire for the
non-renewal of his license. Id. ¶ 12. On June
24, 2014, Crawford sent a letter to the Registry asserting
that Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 90C, section 3 did
not permit the suspension of his operating privileges for
failing to pay the filing fee. Id. ¶ 13. A
Registry hearing officer, treating the letter as a
post-suspension appeal, issued a decision denying
Crawford's appeal on the ground that he failed to pay the
$25 filing fee. Id. ¶ 14. The decision informed
Crawford that he had a right to appeal to the Board of Appeal
on Motor Vehicle Liability Policies and Bonds. Id.
July 1, 2009, the Massachusetts General Court implemented a
$25 filing fee for a CMVI hearing before a clerk-magistrate
of the district court, partially to offset the costs
associated with providing the hearing. Id. ¶
15. All violators, except the indigent, must pay the filing
fee to the Registry to receive a hearing to appeal their
citation. Id. In 2009, when the filing fee
first took effect, there were extensive delays in receiving
hearings (e.g., between three and six months in one
court, and possibly over six months in other courts) due to
individuals who were unprepared to pay the filing fee and
requested hearings only to receive more time to pay the
result of these delays, the legislature implemented a further
change, effective July 1, 2010, to have the Registry collect
the filing fee before forwarding a hearing request
to the district court for scheduling. Pl.'s Statement
Facts ¶ 13. The funds received by the Registry, less
$100, 000, are transferred to the district court.
Id. ¶ 14. Since 2010, if a motorist fails to
pay the filing fee, the hearing request is not transmitted to
the district court. Id. ¶ 16. The effect of the
2010 change was to reduce wait times to as little as three
weeks. Defs.' Statement Facts ¶ 16.
Merit Rating Board (the “Board”) and the Registry
jointly administer CMVI matters. Id. ¶ 17. Four
employees handle initial receipt of citations, hearing
requests, and payments. Id. Another two
electronically scan documents into an electronic file.
Id. Eleven employees handle data entry related to
citations with requests for hearing. Id. Additional
employees handle quality control and the financial
reconciliation of payments of filing fees and assessments.
Id. The Defendants calculate that if an average of
fifteen such employees handled CMVI hearing requests each
year, the annual salary cost would range from $747, 314.25 to
$986, 110.20. Id.
on its 2013 “CMVI Staffing Model, ” the district
court determined that each “standard” CMVI (86%
of cases) takes 25 minutes from start to finish, with 10.4
minutes spent on the hearing and 14.6 minutes spent on
administrative and clerical tasks, while a complex case (14%
of cases) takes 45 minutes, with 19.9 minutes spent on the
hearing and 24.1 minutes spent on administrative and clerical
tasks. Id. ¶ 19.
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is appropriate where “there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a);
see Mulloy v. Acushnet Co., 460 F.3d 141, 145 (1st
Cir. 2006). “To succeed, the moving party must show
that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving
party's position.” Rogers v.
Fair, 902 F.2d 140, 143 (1st Cir. 1990). If the
moving party satisfies its burden, the burden shifts to the
non-moving party to set forth specific facts showing that
there is a genuine, triable issue. Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986).
But see Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing
Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 151 (2000)(where the moving
party bears the burden of proof, absent admissions by the
non-moving party, summary judgment is inappropriate as the
fact-finder need not credit evidence favorable to the moving
party). In reviewing motions for summary judgment, courts
must resolve all disputed facts and inferences in favor of
the non-moving party. See Seaboard Sur. Co.
v. Town of Greenfield, 370 F.3d 215, 219
(1st Cir. 2004). “Cross-motions for summary judgment do
not alter the basic Rule 56 standard, but rather simply
require [the court] to determine whether either of the
parties deserves judgment as a matter of law on facts that
are not disputed.” Adria Int'l Grp., Inc.
v. Ferre Dev., Inc., 241 F.3d 103, 107 (1st
Massachusetts State Law
General Laws, chapter 90C, section 3 gives police officers
the authority to issue citations for civil motor vehicle
infractions. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 90C, § 3(A)(1). The
recipient of a citation may “either pay the scheduled
assessment or contest responsibility for the infraction by
requesting a noncriminal hearing before a magistrate of the
district court.” Id. § 3(A)(2). The
motorist may contest responsibility by “making a signed
request for a noncriminal hearing on the back of the citation
and mailing such citation, together with a $25 court filing
fee, to the registrar, ” which then notifies the
district court to set a hearing. Id. § (A)(4).
Determinations may be appealed to the appellate division.
Id. § (A)(5). If a violator fails to appear,
the Registry will mail a notice indicating that, “in
the case of an operator violation, such ...