United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. CASPER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Amica Mutual Insurance Company (“Amica”) has
filed this lawsuit against Defendants Isaac Rivera
(“Isaac”), Jesus Rivera (“Jesus”),
Carmen Pozo-Rivera (“Carmen”) and Ryan Morrell
(“Morrell”) (collectively, the
“Defendants”) seeking a declaratory judgment
stating that Amica has no liability to the Defendants in
connection with a negligence lawsuit against Isaac. D. 17.
Amica has moved for summary judgment. D. 43. For the reasons
stated below, the Court DENIES the motion.
Standard of Review
Court grants summary judgment where there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the undisputed facts
demonstrate that the moving party is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “A fact is
material if it carries with it the potential to affect the
outcome of the suit under the applicable law.”
Santiago-Ramos v. Centennial P.R. Wireless Corp.,
217 F.3d 46, 52 (1st Cir. 2000) (quoting Sánchez
v. Alvarado, 101 F.3d 223, 227 (1st Cir. 1996))
(internal quotation mark omitted). The movant “bears
the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact.” Carmona v. Toledo, 215 F.3d
124, 132 (1st Cir. 2000); see Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If the movant meets
its burden, the non-moving party may not rest on the
allegations or denials in its pleadings, Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986), but
“must, with respect to each issue on which she would
bear the burden of proof at trial, demonstrate that a trier
of fact could reasonably resolve that issue in her favor,
” Borges ex rel. S.M.B.W. v. Serrano-Isern,
605 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2010). “As a general rule, that
requires the production of evidence that is
‘significant[ly] probative.'” Id.
(quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249) (alteration in
original). The Court “view[s] the record in the light
most favorable to the nonmovant, drawing reasonable
inferences in his favor.” Noonan v. Staples,
Inc., 556 F.3d 20, 25 (1st Cir. 2009).
in the insurance context, “[t]he proper interpretation
of an insurance policy is a matter of law to be decided by a
court, not a jury.” Boazova v. Safety Ins.
Co., 462 Mass. 346, 350 (2012); see Matusevich v.
Middlesex Mut. Assurance Co., 782 F.3d 56, 59 (1st Cir.
2015) (quoting Atlas Pallet, Inc. v. Gallagher, 725
F.2d 131, 134 (1st Cir. 1984)) (explaining that “[i]n
the insurance context, if the facts upon which liability is
claimed or denied are undisputed, then ‘the existence
or amount of liability depends solely upon a construction of
the policy, [and] the question presented is one of law for
the court to decide'”). However, “when the
facts support plausible but conflicting inferences on a
pivotal issue in the case, the judge may not choose between
those inferences at the summary judgment stage.”
Coyne v. Taber Partners I, 53 F.3d 454, 460 (1st
following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted. This
action arises out of an incident that occurred on October 18,
2016 at the residence of Defendants Jesus and Carmen. D. 45
at 2. Jesus and Carmen own a single family home in
Leominster, Massachusetts (the “Rivera home”).
Id. Their son, Isaac, lives with them, including at
the time of the incident in question. Id.; D. 45-3
Morrell's Injury During Isaac's
to the incident on October 18, 2016, Isaac's girlfriend
obtained a temporary restraining order against Isaac that was
in effect until December 19, 2016. D. 45 at 3. On the
afternoon of October 18, 2016, Isaac's girlfriend
reported to the Leominster Police Department that Isaac had
violated the terms of the restraining order. Id. In
response, four Leominster officers went to the Rivera home
looking for Isaac. Id. The officers were Officer
Daniel M. Proietti (“Proietti”), Officer William
C. Taylor (“Taylor”), Sergeant Ryan D. Malatos
(“Malatos”) and Defendant Morrell. Id.
the officers arrived at the Rivera home, Jesus let them into
the house and told them Isaac was in the shower. Id.
Carmen was at work at the time and was not present.
Id. Jesus told Isaac to dry off because the police
were there to take him into custody. Id. at 3-4. The
officers waited in the hallway outside the bathroom.
Id. at 4. Initially, the officers asked Jesus to get
clothes for Isaac while Isaac stayed in the bathroom.
Id. Jesus told the officers he did not know where
Isaac's clothes were and the officers agreed Isaac could
return to his bedroom to retrieve his clothes. Id.
Proietti and Taylor escorted Isaac to his bedroom where he
got dressed. Id.
in Isaac's bedroom, Taylor attempted to place handcuffs
on Isaac while Proietti held Isaac's left wrist.
Id. Isaac broke away from Proietti's grasp.
Id. According to Isaac, Isaac “panicked”
and moved towards the living room. D. 47 at 2; D. 47-2 at 3.
Isaac also testified that he “panicked” because
the prospect of being arrested triggered his anxiety. D. 47
at 3; D. 47-2 at 6. It is undisputed that Isaac then ran from
the bedroom towards the hallway and Morrell was standing in
the hallway. D. 45 at 4; D. 47 at 3. According to Proietti,
Isaac “rushed forward like a bull” toward Morrell
and then down a narrow hallway toward the kitchen. D. 45-16
at 10. According to Isaac and Morrell, Isaac attempted to run
past Morrell and other obstacles in the hall to get outside
and escape. D. 47-2 at 12; D. 47-3 at 8. Morrell testified
that as Isaac ran past him in the hallway, he grabbed onto
Isaac, first on Isaac's side and then from the back. D.
47-3 at 3-4. Morrell further testified it was like a
“bear hug.” Id. at 3. According to
Morrell, Isaac's momentum carried him and Isaac down the
hallway and they “bounced off the walls towards the
kitchen.” Id. at 4. Malatos wrote in the
police report that he grabbed the right side of Isaac's
body while Morrell had the other side. D. 45-6 at 10.
According to Malatos, the three men (Malatos, Morrell and
Isaac) fell into the glass china cabinet in the hallway
causing the glass to shatter. Id. According to
Isaac, the glass in the cabinet broke after two officers
“threw” him into the cabinet and he was
“tackled.” D. 47-2 at 7, 9.
the struggle in the hallway, Morrell injured his hand, the
injury at issue in this case. D. 45 at 4; D. 47 at 3. Morrell
testified that “[his] hand was crushed into the wall
leading into the living room.” D. 47-3 at 6. The living
room is at the opposite end of the hallway from where Isaac
initially ran out of the bedroom. D. 47 at 3. According to
Jesus, the hallway is very narrow and two people cannot fit
side by side in it. D. 45-14 at 21.
testified that he did not see Morrell get hurt and does not
know how Morrell got hurt. D. 47 at 3; D. 47-2 at 7-8. Isaac
further testified that it was not his intention to injure
Morrell or any police officer. D. 47 at 3-4; D. 47-2 at 10.
was ultimately subdued by Taylor using a taser gun and was
arrested in the living room. D. 45 at 5. Morrell received
medical attention for the injury to his hand at Leominster
Criminal Charges Against Isaac
result of this incident, Isaac was charged with resisting
arrest and assault and battery on a police officer, among
other charges. D. 45 at 5. With regard to the charge of
assault and battery, the criminal complaint states: “On
10/18/2016 [Isaac] did assault and beat Ryan Morrell, a
police officer who was then engaged in the performance of his
or her duties . . . .” D. 45 at 5; D. 45-7 at 3.
Regarding the charge of resisting arrest, the complaint
On 10/18/2016 [Isaac] did knowingly prevent or attempt to
prevent a police officer . . . who was acting under color of
his or her official authority, from effecting an arrest, by:
(1) using or threatening to use physical force or violence
against the police officer or another; or (2) using some
other means which created a ...