United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton, United States District Judge
case arises from the termination of the employment of Dr.
Bharanidharan Padmanabhan (“plaintiff” or
“Padmanabhan” or “Dr. Bharani”) and
his subsequent sanctioning by the Massachusetts Board of
Registration in Medicine (“BORIM” or “the
Board”). It is not the first lawsuit brought by the
doctor in connection with these events. In this case,
plaintiff brings a plethora of claims against multiple
defendants. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendants
1) violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. §
1962(c), 2) conspired to violate RICO, 18 U.S.C. §
1962(d), 3) violated the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. §§
1-7, 4) committed fraud, 5) tortiously interfered with
contract, 6) committed trespass to chattels and 7) violated
his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In addition,
plaintiff seeks declaratory judgments and preliminary and
permanent injunctive relief.
the Court are five motions to dismiss filed by various
combinations of defendants and plaintiff's motion for
entry of default. For the reasons that follow,
defendants' motions to dismiss will be allowed and
plaintiff's motion will be denied.
Bharanidharan Padmanabhan, MD, PhD, resides in Massachusetts
and practiced medicine as a neurologist at the Cambridge
Health Aliance (“CHA”) Whidden Hospital. In
November, 2010, plaintiff's medical privileges were
suspended. The Board revoked them following a January 2011
Fair Hearing at CHA. Plaintiff has unsuccessfully challenged
that revocation in state and federal court.
October, 2014, Dr. Padmanabhan filed a complaint in
Massachusetts Superior Court for Norfolk County. See
Padmanabhan v. City of Cambridge et al., Norfolk CA. NO.
1482CV01410 (“Padmanabhan I”). That
complaint asserted 12 counts against 73 defendants. The
claims included various torts, fraud, violations of
Massachusetts state law and violations of plaintiff's
Constitutional rights. Padmanabhan accused BORIM of
conspiring with CHA and asserted that BORIM's conduct
constituted “corrupt collusion and racketeering”.
In July, 2017, the Superior Court allowed defendants'
motions to dismiss, holding that plaintiff's claims were
time-barred. Plaintiff appealed that decision, which is
currently pending in the Massachusetts Court of Appeals.
September, 2015, Padmanabhan filed a complaint in this Court
against a handful of state officials, alleging that they
violated federal law by improperly accessing the Prescription
Monitoring Program computer database in order to obtain
information about his patients and to accuse him falsely of
Medicaid fraud. This session allowed defendants' motion
to dismiss, holding that plaintiff failed to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted. See Padmanabhan v.
Healey, 159 F.Supp.3d 220, 226 (D. Mass. 2016),
aff'd, No. 16-1159, 2017 WL 3404402 (1st Cir.
Jan. 4, 2017), cert. denied, 138 S.Ct. 77
has also pursued litigation arising from BORIM disciplinary
proceedings, which began in 2014. An evidentiary hearing took
place before a Division of Administrative Law Appeals
(“DALA”) magistrate in early 2015, and the
magistrate issued a recommended decision in August, 2015. In
January, 2016, BORIM remanded the case to the magistrate with
orders to clarify and explain parts of his decision.
March, 2016, plaintiff filed a petition for certiorari in the
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”)
asserting that the BORIM proceedings violated his
constitutional rights and requesting that the August, 2015,
decision be deemed final pursuant to 801 C.M.R. §
1.01(1l)(c)(3). After that petition was denied by a single
justice of the SJC, plaintiff appealed to the full SJC. While
that appeal was pending, the DALA magistrate issued an
amended recommended decision in August, 2016. That decision
found that plaintiff had acted below the standard of care.
11, 2017, BORIM issued a decision that adopted, in large
part, the magistrate's findings. On May 15, 2017,
plaintiff filed an emergency motion in the SJC to stay the
suspension of his license. The SJC denied that stay on May
18, 2017, and issued an opinion on the matter on June 27,
2017. See Padmanabhan v. Bd. of Registration in
Med., 77 N.E.3d 312 (Mass. 2017) (“Padmanabhan
III”). The court noted that it did not
“condone the lengthy disciplinary process to which
Padmanabhan has been subjected” and that it had
“serious concerns” about the “repeated
resettings of the 180-day clock pursuant to 801 C.M.R. §
1.01(11)(c)(2).” Id. at 314. Nonetheless, the
Court noted, plaintiff's finality argument was
unavailing. The Court concluded that plaintiff
now has the opportunity to pursue judicial review of the
final decision [of BORIM] pursuant to M.G.L. c. 112, §
Id. at 315. Plaintiff did not avail himself of that
filed a complaint in this session on May 22, 2017, requesting
injunctive relief against BORIM. Padmanabhan alleged that ten
members or employees of BORIM violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983
by denying him his Due Process and Equal Protection rights
under the Fourteenth Amendment. He requested that BORIM's
decision be stayed
while the en banc SJC opinion is pending [and until]
Dr. Bharani can avail of remedies in Federal court for the
committed by BORIM.
November, 2017, this session denied plaintiff's motion
for a preliminary injunction and allowed defendants'
motion to dismiss, holding that plaintiff's suit was
barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion. See
Padmanabhan v. Paikos, 280 F.Supp.3d 248, 253 (D. Mass.
2017) (“Padmanabhan IV”).
filed the complaint in this action in October, 2017, which
was drawn to United States District Judge Saylor. In January,
2018, the case was reassigned to this session pursuant to
Local Rule 40.1(g)(5). On February 2, 2018, plaintiff filed
an emergency petition for a writ of mandamus in the First
Circuit Court of Appeals (“First Circuit”),
contesting that reassignment. On February 12, 2018, the First
Circuit denied that petition, finding that plaintiff failed
to demonstrate “a clear entitlement to the relief
requested.” See In re Padmanabhan, No. 16-1159
(1st Cir. Feb. 12, 2018) (“Padmanabhan
complaint in the present suit is 180 pages long and consists
of approximately 650 paragraphs. Many of those paragraphs
recount the same events detailed in plaintiff's previous
complaints in other cases. He states ten claims for relief
against 26 defendants. Most of the defendants have been sued
in prior actions. Two, Maura Tracey Healey and James Paikos,
are named defendants in plaintiff's previous cases.
See Padmanabhan II; Padmanabhan
IV. Pending before the Court are five motions to dismiss
filed by the defendants. The Court will address them
have filed motions to dismiss for failure to state claims
upon which relief can be granted. To survive a motion to
dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). In considering the
merits of a motion to dismiss, the Court may look only to the
facts alleged in the pleadings, documents attached as
exhibits or incorporated by reference in the complaint and
matters of which judicial notice can be taken. Nollet v.
Justices of Trial Court of Mass., 83 F.Supp.2d 204, 208
(D. Mass. 2000), aff'd, 248 F.3d 1127 (1st Cir.
2000). Furthermore, the Court must accept all factual
allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable
inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Langadinos v.
Am. Airlines, Inc., 199 F.3d 68, 69 (1st Cir. 2000). If
the facts in the complaint are sufficient to state a cause of
action, a motion to dismiss the complaint must be denied.
See Nollet, 83 F.Supp.2d at 208.
a court must accept as true all of the factual allegations
contained in a complaint, that doctrine is not applicable to
legal conclusions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662
(2009). Threadbare recitals of the legal elements which are
supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice to
state a cause of action. Id. Accordingly, a
complaint does not state a claim for relief where the
well-pled facts fail to warrant an inference of any more than
the mere possibility of misconduct. Id. at 1950.
contend that plaintiff's claims are barred by the
doctrine of claim preclusion. Padmanabhan denies that claim
preclusion applies and asserts that the parties are not in
privity, that the prior action did not produce a final
judgment on the merits and that the state and federal cases
have “no overlapping claims”.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1738, judicial proceedings of the several
states “shall have the same full faith and credit in
every court within the United States.” Cf.
U.S. Const. art. IV, § 1 (mandating that “Full
Faith and Credit be given in each State to the public Acts,
Records, and judicial Proceedings” of each other
state). Under that full-faith-and-credit mandate, federal
courts must “give preclusive effect to a state-court
judgment if the state court itself would.” Newman
v. Krintzman, 723 F.3d 308, 310 (1st Cir. 2013) (citing
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Epstein, 516 U.S.
367, 373 (1996)) (additional citations omitted). Under
Massachusetts law, claim preclusion applies when three
elements are satisfied:
the parties to the prior and present actions must either be
identical or in privity; the causes of action must arise out
of the same nucleus of operative fact; and the prior action
must have produced a final judgment on the merits.
Goldstein v. Galvin, 719 F.3d 16, 23 (1st Cir. 2013)
(citing Kobrin v. Board of Registration in Med., 832
N.E.2d 628 (Mass. 2005)); see also Airframe Sys., Inc. v.
Raytheon Co., 601 F.3d 9, 14 (1st Cir. 2010) (describing
federal claim preclusion standard in similar terms).
Claim preclusion as to defendants Hulka, Nardin,
Paikos, Sloane, Bouton, Cooke, Felice and Leape
(“the Padmanabhan I
Padmanabhan I defendants aver that plaintiff's
claims are barred by the doctrine of res judicata.
Plaintiff responds that no case filed in any forum has
asserted the subject claims and denies that a final decision
was reached by a previous court.
Privity of parties
Padmanabhan I defendants were all named in the
Padmanabhan I complaint. Plaintiff does not deny
that fact. The Padmanabhan I defendants are in
privity with the defendants from the prior action.
Nucleus of operative fact
avers that the present action involves a different claim than
any brought in a previous case. He emphasizes that these
defendants have not faced claims of mail fraud or wire fraud
and states that this case “is about the entire universe
of unlawful acts these defendants have consciously engaged
in” as part of a racketeering enterprise.
courts require a common nucleus of operative facts because
claim preclusion applies even where the claimant “is
prepared in a second action to present different evidence or
legal theories to support his claim.” Hudson v.
MacEachern, 94 F.Supp.3d 59, 66 (D. Mass. 2015) (quoting
Heacock v. Heacock, 520 N.E.2d 151, 152-53 (Mass.
1988)). “The statement of a different form of liability
is not a different cause of action” if it grows out of
the same transaction. Fassas v. First Bank & Trust
Co., 353 Mass. 628, 629 (Mass. 1968); Andrew
Robinson Int'l, Inc. v. Hartford Fire Ins. Co., 547
F.3d 48, 52 (1st Cir. 2008) (“Discrete theories of
liability may constitute identical causes of action for claim
preclusion purposes if they are based on the same nucleus of
case and Padmanabhan I “grow out of the same
transaction” and “seek redress for the same
wrong.” See Andrew Robinson, 547 F.3d at 52
(quoting Brunson v. Wall, 405 Mass. 446, 451 n. 9
(Mass. 1989)). Plaintiff's contention that this case
represents a different nucleus of facts because these
defendants have not been confronted by claims of mail or wire
fraud misconstrues the doctrine. See Isaac
v. Schwartz, 706 F.2d 15, 17 (1st Cir. 1983)
(“The issue is not whether the plaintiff in fact argued
his claims in the state proceeding, but whether he could
have.”) (quoting Lovely v. Laliberte, 498 F.2d
1261, 1263 (1st Cir. 1974) (internal quotation marks
omitted). In both cases, plaintiff's claims arise out of
the alleged use of a fraudulent report, fraudulent
misrepresentations and collusion between BORIM and CHA.
causes of action in the two cases arise out of the same
nucleus of operative facts.
Final judgment on the merits
maintains that this Court erred in its decision in
Padmanabhan IV, in which this Court held that
plaintiff was precluded from challenging the BORIM
proceedings because he failed to comply with the
Massachusetts administrative appeal procedures. He insists,
again, that BORIM's February, 2016, decision and not its
May, 2017, decision was the actual “final
plaintiff is precluded from relitigating that issue, which
was already addressed and decided in Padmanabhan IV.
See Grella v. Salem Five Cent Sav. Bank, 42 F.3d 26,
30 (1st Cir. 1994) (“The principle of collateral
estoppel, or issue preclusion, bars relitigation of any