United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
Dennis Saylor, IV United States District Judge
a dispute over the disposal by police officers of confiscated
firearms. Plaintiff Mykel Powell alleges that defendants
Brian Holmes and James O'Connor, both Stoughton police
officers, deprived him of the use and value of his firearms
without due process of law.
to the complaint, Powell had a firearms license and owned
several weapons. When he was indicted on criminal charges,
the Stoughton police suspended his license and required him
to surrender the weapons. After the charges were dropped,
Powell asked for the weapons back. Instead, the police
refused, and eventually destroyed the confiscated weapons.
Powell essentially contends that the loss of the use and
value of his property, for which he received no compensation,
violated his due-process rights under the Constitution.
have moved to dismiss on the ground that the complaint fails
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the
reasons set forth below, that motion will be denied.
following facts are set forth as alleged in the complaint.
Powell was at the relevant time a resident of Stoughton,
Massachusetts. As of 2015, he had a Class A license that
permitted him to carry firearms. (Compl. ¶ 9).
Holmes is a sergeant in the Stoughton Police Department.
(Id. ¶ 2). Among other things, Holmes handles
applications for firearm permits. (Id. ¶ 10).
James O'Connor is a detective in the Stoughton Police
Department. (Id. ¶ 3).
November 29, 2015, the Stoughton Police Department suspended
Powell's firearms license pending the resolution of
criminal charges against him. (Id. ¶ 9).
According to the complaint, Sgt. Holmes came to Powell's
house and took possession of:
a. a Bushmaster AR15 [rifle] (serial no. HFN6346),
b. an S&W SD9 [pistol] (serial no. BFI643914),
c. 6 pre-ban [sic] ¶ 30 round magazines,
d. 1 magazine for the S&W SD9, [and]
e. the bag for the rifle.
(Id. ¶¶ 11-12). The complaint alleges that
the fair market value of the property taken was at least $1,
532.24. (Id. ¶ 13).
complaint alleges that Powell was not provided a receipt.
(Id. ¶ 14). Instead, he “was told to call
Sgt. Holmes once he is clear from his criminal
charges.” (Id. ¶ 15). It further alleges
that Powell was not given notice in writing of the licensing
authority's ability to transfer the firearms a year after
they were surrendered under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, §
129D. (Id. ¶ 16); see Mass. Gen. Laws
ch. 140, § 129D (“The licensing authority shall at
the time of delivery or surrender inform the person in
writing of the authority's ability, within 1 year after
delivery or surrender, to transfer the firearms, rifles,
shotguns and machine guns and ammunition to any licensed
dealer or other person legally permitted to purchase or take
August 3, 2016, approximately eight months later, the
criminal charges against Powell were dismissed. (Id.
¶ 17). On August 5, 2016, Powell “left a telephone
message for Sgt. Holmes informing him that the criminal case
against him was dismissed.” (Id. ¶ 18).
He alleges that he tried several additional times to reach
Sgt. Holmes by telephone. (Id. ¶ 19). He
finally spoke to him on September 29, 2016. (Id.
¶ 19). According to the complaint, Sgt. Holmes refused
to return the confiscated property and told Powell that he
“needed a change in his lifestyle.” (Id.
point thereafter, Powell moved to Rhode Island. (Id.
¶ 21). Following the move, Sgt. Holmes allegedly
informed Powell that he would return the firearms once he was
lawfully able to possess firearms in Rhode Island.
(Id. ¶ 22). Powell passed Rhode Island's
“blue card” test on October 24, 2016, which
allowed him to lawfully purchase or possess handguns in that
alleges that he attempted to contact Sgt. Holmes again, but
“was advised to contact” Det. O'Connor.
(Id. ¶ 24). On November 14, 2016, Det.
O'Connor informed Powell that his property ...