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Cournoyer v. Department of State Police

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Middlesex

April 2, 2018

ARTHUR COURNOYER
v.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE POLICE & another. [1]

          Heard: January 8, 2018.

         Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on March 14, 2016.

         A motion to dismiss was heard by Bruce R. Henry, J.

          Scott W. Lang (Jennifer Davis also present) for the plaintiff.

          Samuel M. Furgang, Assistant Attorney General, for the defendants.

          Present: Blake, Neyman, & Ditkoff, JJ.

          DITKOFF, J.

         The plaintiff, Arthur Cournoyer, appeals from a Superior Court judgment dismissing his claims for declaratory judgment and specific performance against the defendants. The plaintiff argues that the Department of State Police (department) is required by G. L. c. 22C, § 24A, to develop individualized training programs for former State police troopers seeking reinstatement, rather than require them to complete recruit training at the State police academy (academy). Concluding that the statute is unambiguous and that the department may require former troopers separated for more than three years to complete recruit training, we affirm, ordering that the judgment be modified to declare the rights of the parties.

         1. Standard of review.

         We review a ruling on a motion to dismiss de novo, Rodriguez v. Massachusetts Bay Transp. Authy., 92 Mass.App.Ct. 26, 28 (2017), taking the complaint's allegations as true, as well all reasonable inferences drawn in the plaintiff's favor, Saliba v. Worcester, 92 Mass.App.Ct. 408, 412 (2017). To survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must present factual allegations that rise above the level of speculation, Iannacchino v. Ford Motor Co., 451 Mass. 623, 636 (2008), and plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, Flagg v. AliMed, Inc., 466 Mass. 23, 26 (2013).

         2. Background.

         The plaintiff was a State police trooper from 1992 until 2000.[2] While so employed, the plaintiff received positive performance evaluations, and he completed all required in-service training in addition to numerous programs, certifications, and service in specialized areas of law enforcement. In 1998, however, the plaintiff suffered a severe injury while on duty, requiring medical leave and ultimately causing his involuntary retirement in 2000. Following several operations and physical rehabilitation, the plaintiff was able to obtain employment, working for the Worcester County sheriff's department and obtaining a private investigator's license.

         In 2013, the plaintiff learned of the possibility of reinstatement as a State police trooper following involuntary retirement and applied to the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC) seeking to return to active status. After a panel of medical doctors determined that the plaintiff was medically fit to perform the essential duties of a State trooper, PERAC approved the plaintiff's application.

         After completing qualifying physical fitness and agility tests, the plaintiff enrolled in the first available recruit training program at the academy in October, 2015. Recruit training is similar to a military "boot camp, " and involves activities designed to, among other things, inculcate recruits with a proper respect for the chain of command. The plaintiff was the only former State trooper enrolled at that time. The plaintiff was approximately fifty-eight years old; the recruits were ...


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