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Destefano v. Endicott College

Superior Court of Massachusetts, Essex

December 18, 2017

Dillon Destefano
v.
Endicott College et al.[1]

          Judge (with first initial, no space for Sullivan, Dorsey, and Walsh): Tabit, Salim Rodriguez, J.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS (PAPER #8)

          Salim Rodriguez Tabit Associate Justice

         INTRODUCTION

         This action arises out of an unusual set of circumstances where an underage student attending Endicott College (" Endicott") in Beverly, Massachusetts, became intoxicated and assaulted three individuals over the course of the evening on February 1, 2014, and the early morning of February 2, 2014. That student, Dillon Destefano (" Destefano"), subsequently pleaded guilty to three counts of assault and battery and was sentenced in Essex County Superior Court. Destefano has now brought a three-count negligence complaint against Endicott and its President, Richard Wylie (collectively, the " Defendants"). Destefano contends that but for the Defendants’ negligence, he would not have committed the assault and batteries to which he pleaded guilty, and would not have suffered the damages that have resulted from those convictions. This matter is currently before the court on the Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss. For the reasons that follow, the Motion to Dismiss is ALLOWED.

         BACKGROUND

         The following facts are taken from the Complaint and are presumed true for the purposes of the Motion to Dismiss. The court has also considered court documents from Essex County Superior Court case No. ESCR2014-00269.[2] Some facts are reserved for discussion below.

         On the evening of February 1, and the early morning of February 2, 2014, Destefano, a nineteen-year-old sophomore at Endicott, became extremely intoxicated while at a " dorm party" and at a senior house on campus called the " Farm House." At approximately 1:00 a.m. on February 2nd, Destefano left the " Farm House" with two friends in search of food. Along the way, Destefano engaged another individual in a fight. After the fight, Destefano and his two friends continued to a location known as the " Lodge" to eat. After eating, Destefano and his friends headed to another campus party located at the " Yellow House." While on their way to the " Yellow House, " Destefano engaged a second individual in a fight. After the second fight, Destefano and his friends continued en route to the " Yellow House." Destefano and his friends never made it to the " Yellow House." On the way, Destefano engaged yet a third individual in a fight. Thereafter, the three friends abandoned their plan to go the " Yellow House" and, instead, returned to the " Farm House."

         Following the events of February 1st and 2nd, a criminal investigation ensued, resulting in Destefano’s indictment on two charges of assault and battery causing serious bodily injury and one charge of assault and battery. On August 5, 2014, Destefano pleaded guilty to all three indictments and was sentenced to two years committed to the Massachusetts House of Correction on indictment number ESCR2014-269-001, two years committed to the Massachusetts House of Correction on indictment number ESCR2014-269-002, from and after indictment number ESCR2014-269-001, and three years of probation on indictment number ESCR2014-269-003, from and after indictment number ESCR2014-269-002.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Standard of Review

         To survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Mass.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must set forth the basis of the plaintiff’s entitlement to relief with " more than labels and conclusions." Iannacchino v. Ford Motor Co., 451 Mass. 623, 636 (2008), quoting Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). While factual allegations need not be detailed, they " must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level ... [based] on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact) ..." Id., quoting Bell All. Corp., 550 U.S. at 555. At the pleading stage, Mass.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) requires that the complaint set forth " factual ‘allegations plausibly suggesting (not merely consistent with)’ an entitlement to relief ..." Id., quoting Bell A. Corp., 550 U.S. at 557.

         Here, Destefano asserts three claims seeking damages from the Defendants. While the Complaint alleges three separate counts, the action is in essence a negligence action, in which Destefano seeks to establish that the Defendants owed him a duty of care under three distinct theories of liability- social host liability, liability based on the existence of a special relationship, and liability premised upon negligent supervision. Because none of the theories Destefano presents plausibly suggest the Defendants owed him a duty of care based on the facts alleged, the Motion to Dismiss must be allowed.

         II. Analysis

         A. Social ...


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