United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
WITH REGARD TO DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS (DKT. NOS.
10 & 31)
MICHAEL A. PONSOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Place, LLC ("Martone") and HDC Four, LLC
("HDC") ("Plaintiffs") have filed this
lawsuit against the City of Springfield; Department of Public
Works ("DPW") director Christopher Cignoli; Office
of Planning and Economic Development ("OPED")
director Philip Dromey; Building Commissioner Steve Desilets;
and former DPW director Allan R. Chwalek
("Defendants") individually and in their official
capacities. Plaintiffs contend that Defendants deliberately
and improperly interfered with Plaintiffs' effort to
obtain a building permit and thereby caused the loss of a
profitable contract with the Massachusetts Department of
Transportation ("MassDOT"). The complaint contains
counts asserting violations of Plaintiffs' federal due
process and equal protection rights (Counts I and II) as well
as violations of Massachusetts state law (Counts III, IV, V,
and VI). In response, Defendants have moved to dismiss for
failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.
(Dkt. No. 10.)
motion was referred to Magistrate Judge Katherine A.
Robertson for Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72. On August 22, 2017,
Judge Robertson issued her recommendation, meticulously
laying out the alleged facts, summarizing the applicable law,
and analyzing the merits of each of the counts of the
complaint. (Dkt. No. 31.) She recommended that
Defendants' motion to dismiss be allowed as to both
federal counts and as to all state counts except Count IV,
which asserts a claim for tortious interference with
contractual relations. She noted, however, that the dismissal
of the federal claims gave this court discretion to dismiss
the state law claims without prejudice to their re-filing in
filed a timely objection solely as to the federal counts.
(Dkt. No. 35.) Defendants filed no objection to the
recommendation regarding Count IV. Upon de novo
review, the court will adopt Judge Robertson's
recommendation, allow the motion to dismiss as to
Plaintiffs' federal claims with prejudice, allow the
motion to dismiss with prejudice as to all but one of the
state claims based on the absence of any objection to the
Recommendation, and allow the motion to dismiss Count IV, but
without prejudice to its re-filing in state court.
comprehensive recitation of the facts is unnecessary. Judge
Robertson's thorough fifty-two-page Report and
Recommendation summarizes the somewhat labyrinthine course of
the parties' interactions in detail; it is attached and
should be viewed as adopted in this memorandum. See Exhibit
A. Plaintiffs' objections, in any event, do not assert
any explicit misstatement of facts by Judge Robertson in her
Report and Recommendation, though they do express
disagreement with the Report's use of the term
"condition" in a portion of its discussion.
salient facts, stringently compressed for purposes of this
memorandum but fully available in the Report and
Recommendation, are as follows.
2013, the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management
and Maintenance ("DCAMM") awarded Plaintiffs a
contract to construct a new Registry of Motor Vehicles
("RMV") building on property they owned at 36
Martone Place in Springfield. The existing RMV facility was
grossly outdated so the schedule for construction of the new
building was tight; the contract required substantial
completion of the project within seven months. Based on the
award of this contract, Plaintiffs entered into a ten-year
lease with MassDOT.
submitted an application for administrative site plan review
to OPED on May 6, 2014. On May 7, 2014, OPED informed
Plaintiffs that their application was incomplete. Sometime
thereafter, Plaintiffs filed an amended application, and on
June 12, 2014, OPED confirmed that it was complete, meaning
the review of the application could begin. On July 1, 2014,
OPED issued a Conditional Approval; in the weeks that
followed, Plaintiffs engaged in numerous communications with
Defendants, written and oral, in an effort to get final
approval of their project.
allege that they met with deliberate, improper resistance
from Defendants during the review and permitting process. In
particular, they contend that by requiring a review of their
application by DPW, OPED effectively inserted a separate and
improper DPW mechanism into the approval process, which
Plaintiffs were unable to challenge by invoking the available
state legal remedies. According to Plaintiffs, Defendants
used this concocted, and unreviewable, DPW approval tool to
draw out the overall approval process, with the result that
Plaintiffs were unable to complete the project within the
required time frame. Approximately eight months after the
date for substantial completion, MassDOT terminated its lease
authority makes clear that supplemental state law claims may,
and usually should, be dismissed when all underlying federal
claims are dismissed at the outset of a case. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1367(c) (3); see also United States ex. rel. Kelly
v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., 827 F.3d 5, 15 (1st Cir. 2016)
(citing Rodriguez v. Doral Mortg. Corp., 57 F.3d
1168, 1177 (1st Cir. 1995)). Although the federal court has
discretion in the matter, "the balance of factors to be
considered under the pendent jurisdiction doctrine - judicial
economy, convenience, fairness, and comity - will point
toward declining to exercise jurisdiction over the remaining
state law claims." Doral Mortg. Corp., 57 F.3d
at 1177 (citation omitted). "[I]f these [factors] are
not present a federal court should hesitate to exercise
jurisdiction over state claims, even though bound to apply
state law to them." United Mine Workers of Am. v.
Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726 (1966) (citation omitted).
First Circuit has noted that "the balance of competing
factors ordinarily will weigh strongly in favor of declining
jurisdiction over state law claims where the foundational
federal claims have been dismissed at an early stage in the
litigation." Camelio v. Am. Fed'n, 137 F.3d
666, 672 (1st Cir. 1998); Doral Mortg. Corp., 57
F.3d at 1177; Brouah v. United Steelworkers of ...