United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Dkt. No. 22)
G. MASTROIANNI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Regina Shea-Sullivan, filed an eleven count complaint in
state court against Defendants-Town of Southampton
(“Town”), the Town Select Board
(“Board”), and Edward Cauley
(“Cauley”)-raising claims related to mistreatment
she allegedly suffered while employed by the Town. The case
was removed to this court by Defendants based on the
existence of two claims brought under federal law. The court
now considers Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgement
(Dkt. No. 22).
complaint includes two counts based on federal law: Count VII
brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and alleging
deprivations of Plaintiff's First Amendment free speech
rights, equal protection rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth
Amendment, and rights to due process under the Fifth and
Fourteenth Amendments; and Count X alleging a conspiracy to
interfere with her civil rights in violation of 42 U.S.C.
§ 1985. Nine other counts assert claims solely under
Massachusetts law. With respect to the claims based on
federal law, this court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1331. As to the state law claims, because they
arise out of the same facts relevant to the federal claims,
this court has discretion as to whether to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.
See Rodriguez v. Doral Mortg. Corp., 57 F.3d 1168,
1175 (1st Cir. 1995).
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is appropriate ‘if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'”
Bellone v. Southwick-Tolland Regional School Dist.,
748 F.3d 418, 422 (1st Cir. 2014) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a)). “[A] nonmovant can forestall summary judgment
by ‘present[ing] definite, competent evidence'
demonstrating the existence of a genuine dispute about a
material fact.” Murray v. Kindred Nursing Centers
W. LLC, 789 F.3d 20, 25 (1st Cir. 2015) (quoting
Mesnick v. Gen. Elec. Co., 950 F.2d 816, 822 (1st
Cir. 1991)). “‘A dispute is genuine if the
evidence about the fact is such that a reasonable jury could
resolve the point in the favor of the non-moving party.'
. . . ‘A fact is material if it has the potential of
determining the outcome of the litigation.'”
Patco Constr. Co. v. People's United Bank, 684
F.3d 197, 206-07 (1st Cir. 2012) (quoting
Rodríguez-Rivera v. Federico Trilla Reg'l
Hosp. of Carolina, 532 F.3d 28, 30 (1st Cir. 2008)).
with the summary judgment standard, the court summarizes the
relevant facts presented by Plaintiff and supported by
citations to the record.
Events Prior to August 18, 2013
2006, Plaintiff, Regina Shea-Sullivan, began working for the
Town as an administrative assistant. Four days per week
Plaintiff worked for the Board and one day per week she
worked for the Town Highway Department. The individual
defendant, Edward Cauley, was the Highway Superintendent and
Plaintiff's supervisor when she performed work for the
Town Highway Department. He was a Town employee for
approximately thirty years. On four occasions between 2008
and 2010, Cauley subjected Plaintiff to unwanted sexual
advances. At some point following the last incident,
Plaintiff verbally reported Cauley's conduct to David
Silvernail, the chief of police for the Town, and Jacquie
Sears, then a member of the Board. Silvernail, in turn, told
Michael Phelan, then chair of the Board, about the report.
Sears also shared the allegations with Phelan and another
member of the Board, Ann Roy. These conversations most likely
occurred during 2011, but some may have happened as late as
2012 or 2013. Despite several town officials having knowledge
of Plaintiff's allegations, no action was taken against
Cauley and he continued to be Plaintiff's supervisor.
Plaintiff has not alleged Cauley made any other unwanted
sexual advances toward her. The evidence in the record
indicates Cauley did not learn of Plaintiff's complaints
regarding his conduct until, at the earliest, 2012 and
possibly not not until after Plaintiff filed a written
complaint with the Board in September of 2013. After learning
of Plaintiff's complaint, Cauley called Plaintiff a
“liar” when speaking to others about her
allegations of unwanted sexual advances towards her.
position of Town Administrator (“TA”) became
vacant in 2011. The Board appointed Plaintiff to the position
of Interim TA for a period of twelve weeks. Subsequently the
Select Board approved additional twelve-week periods, the
last of which ended in early 2014. As Interim TA, Plaintiff
received no additional pay, performed new TA duties, and
continued to perform her administrative duties, except that
she ceased doing work for the Highway Department. Initially,
the job description for the permanent TA position stated a
college degree was required. In April of 2012, the Board
voted to change the job description for the TA position to
make a college degree suggested rather than mandatory. This
change allowed Plaintiff, who does not have a college degree,
to be considered for the permanent TA position.
of 2012, Cauley was elected to the Select Board, the
five-member voting body that presides over Southampton.
Shortly after being elected to the Board, Cauley voted to
renew Plaintiff's appointment as Interim TA for an
additional twelve weeks. In September and December of 2012,
the Board voted for additional twelve week renewals of
Plaintiff's interim position. Cauley voted against both
of these extensions. Cauley also voted against giving
Plaintiff a raise or providing her an administrative
assistant to assist with her workload, and led an
unsuccessful attempt to change the job description for the
permanent TA position to again require a college degree.
the spring of 2013, a screening committee considered
applicants for the permanent TA position. Cauley was one of
five members of the screening committee. The other four
members of the committee included Silvernail and Sears and
two other members who had previously been friendly with
Cauley. On April 16, 2013, the Screening Committee announced
five finalists. Plaintiff was not among the finalists, but,
after a complaint from Sears, Plaintiff was interviewed for
the TA position on May 5, 2013. A different candidate was
offered the position. That candidate had both a Juris Doctor
and Master of Business ...