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Barresi v. City of Boston

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

October 11, 2018

MARILYN BARRESI, PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF STEPHANIE MCMAHON Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF BOSTON Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Patti B. Saris Chief United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This sad and troubling case involves the murder of Stephanie McMahon allegedly by Randall Tremblay. Her mother, Marilyn Barresi, filed this lawsuit against the City of Boston on behalf of the Estate of McMahon alleging that two police officers failed to protect her despite the issuance of a restraining order against Tremblay by the Boston Municipal Court. In the Amended Complaint (Docket No. 17), Plaintiff asserts eleven counts against the City: wrongful death claims under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 229 (Counts I and II); various negligence claims and a claim of a “Violation of Boston Police Department Policy”[1] (Counts III, V, VI, and VII); an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim (Count IV); two due process claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Counts VIII and IX); an equal protection claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count X); and a failure to train and/or supervise claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count XI).

         Defendant filed a motion to dismiss all counts for failure to state any claim upon which relief can be granted (Docket No. 18). After hearing, Defendant's motion to dismiss is ALLOWED. Because Plaintiff did not oppose the motion to dismiss the claims asserted under state law in her brief, the Court will only address the constitutional claims under § 1983.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The following factual background is taken from the Amended Complaint. The allegations must be taken as true at this stage of the litigation. See Watterson v. Page, 987 F.2d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 1993).

         On April 23, 2014, the Boston Municipal Court issued a restraining order against Tremblay ordering him to stay away from McMahon's residence. It did not expire until April 23, 2015. On November 16, 2014 around 2:10 A.M., McMahon called 911 and stated that Tremblay was “trying to hit [her] over the head with a stick, ” and that she had an active restraining order against him. Officers Robert C. Boyle and William Hubbard were dispatched to McMahon's apartment to respond to the call. Before responding to the disturbance, the officers did not log into the record management system inside their vehicle, and therefore did not see the details of the 911 call.

         When the officers entered the apartment building, they saw a man in the hallway in front of McMahon's unit. McMahon, who was inside, opened the door to tell the officers repeatedly that she had a restraining order against the man in the hallway. At the time, the officers did not know the man's name. They did not check the record system in their vehicle in order to determine whether McMahon in fact had an active restraining order. The officers also did not request additional information from the 911 dispatcher, nor did they speak to a supervisor to confirm either the identity of the man in the hallway or the existence of a restraining order.

         Boston Police Department procedure requires officers to “arrest any person that the officer observes, or has probable cause to believe, has committed a violation of a court order.” Officers Boyle and Hubbard did not arrest the man, later identified as Tremblay, but instead escorted him out of McMahon's apartment building and transported him to Shattuck Hospital. Tremblay also had an outstanding warrant at the time for failing to register as a sex offender. When they arrived at Shattuck Hospital, Officers Boyle and Hubbard left Tremblay outside the facility. They did not seek to admit Tremblay to Shattuck, nor did they ask any staff at Shattuck to identify the man. At some point later, Tremblay returned to McMahon's apartment and killed her.

         During an internal affairs investigation, Officers Boyle and Hubbard indicated “that they did not have the training or knowledge of the City of Boston's police department rules and regulations with respect to the handling of domestic violence cases.”

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter . . . to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).

         Plaintiff filed five exhibits with her Memo in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 32-1). Plaintiff describes the Exhibits as: Exhibit A, “Transcript of 911 call”; Exhibit B, “Abuse Prevention Order”; Exhibit C, “Police Reports”; Exhibit D, “Findings of Internal Affairs Investigation”; and Exhibit E, ...


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