MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON CROSS MOTIONS FOR
JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS
MICHAEL D. RICCIUTI, Justice of the Superior Court
Massachusetts Department of Correction ("DOC")
moves pursuant to G.L.c. 30A, § 14, G.L.c. 151B, §
6, Superior Court Standing Order 1-96, and Mass.R.Civ.P.
12(c) to vacate an assessment of interest on attorneys fees
and costs imposed by defendant Massachusetts Commission
Against Discrimination ("MCAD") in a decision
rendered in favor of defendant Pamela Scanlon, a DOC
employee, on September 28, 2017. MCAD opposes and cross moves
for judgment on the pleadings. Scanlan adopts and
incorporates the MCADâs arguments.
consideration of the partiesâ memoranda of law and oral
arguments, and for the reasons that follow, DOCâs motion for
judgment on the pleadings is ALLOWED and the MCADâs
cross motion for judgment on the pleadings is
for judicial review of administrative agency proceedings are
resolved through motions for judgment on the pleadings under
Mass.R.Civ.P. 12(c). Massachusetts Superior Court Standing
Order 1-96, § 4. The Courtâs "review shall be
confined to the record." Id. at § 5.
record âshall consist of ... the entire proceeding.â"
Id. at § 2, quoting G.L.c. 30A, § 14. The
record in this case reveals the following facts:
Scanlon filed a charge of discrimination against the DOC and
litigated it before the MCAD pursuant to G.L.c. 151B, §
5, not in Superior Court pursuant to G.L.c. 151B, § 9.
On or about March 19, 2013, and pursuant to G.L.c. 151B,
§ 5, an MCAD Hearing Officer issued a decision in favor
of Scanlon and awarded her compensatory damages. On or about
March 29, 2013, Scanlon submitted a petition for attorneys
fees and costs.
appealed to the Full Commission of the MCAD.
September 28, 2017, the Full Commission affirmed the Hearing
Officerâs decision and awarded Scanlon attorneys fees of $41,
600 and costs of $386, to which the MCAD added interest
calculated at 12% "from the date the petition for
attorneys fees was filed, until paid, or until this order is
reduced to a court judgment and post judgment interest begins
to accrue." The Order concluded that "[t]his order
represents the final action of the Commission for purposes of
M.G.L.c. 30A. Any party aggrieved by this final determination
may contest the Commissionâs decision by filing a complaint
in superior court seeking judicial review ... Failure to file
a petition in court within thirty (30) days of service of
this order will constitute a waiver of the aggrieved partyâs
right to appeal pursuant to M.G.L.c. 151B, § 6."
November 1, 2017, DOC field a timely complaint in this court,
seeking an order vacating the award of interest on attorneys
fees and costs.
Court may set aside the MCADâs decision only on the grounds
enumerated in G.L.c. 30A, § 14. See Howard Johnson
Co. v. Alcoholic Beverages Control Commân, 24
Mass.App.Ct. 487, 490 (1987). The Court thus reviews the
MCADâs decision to determine whether it was not supported by
substantial evidence, was arbitrary or capricious, or was
based on an error of law. G.L.c. 30A, § 14(7); see also,
e.g., The Local Citizen Group v. New England Wind,
LLC, 457 Mass. 222, 228 (2010). A moving party bears a heavy
burden of establishing that an agencyâs decision is invalid.
See Merisme v. Board of Appeals on Motor Vehicle Policies
and Bonds, 27 Mass.App.Ct. 470, 474 (1989); Mass.
Assân of Minority Law Enforcement Officers v. Abban, 434
Mass. 256, 263-64 (2001).
generally review an agencyâs interpretation of law de novo.
However, we grant deference to the interpretations
administrative agencies make of the statutory scheme that
they administer." Trustees of Health & Hosps. of the
City of Boston, Inc. v. Massachusetts Commân Against
Discrimination, 65 Mass.App.Ct. 329, 333 (2005)
(citations omitted), affâd sub nom. Trustees of Health &
Hosps. of City of Boston, Inc. v. Massachusetts Commân
Against Discrimination, 449 Mass. 675 (2007). Further,
the Court gives due weight to the "experience, technical
competence, and specialized knowledge of the agency" and
the discretionary authority conferred upon it, see G.L.c.
30A, § 14(7), and will not substitute its judgment for
that of the agency. Southern Worcester Cnty. Regâl
Cov. Sch. Dist. v. Labor Relations Commân, 386 Mass.
414, 420-21 (1982).
151B claims are resolved through one of two generally
mutually-exclusive methods-before the MCAD pursuant to §
5 or before the Superior Court pursuant to § 9. This is
a § 5 case. Two years ago, in a § 9 case, the
Supreme Judicial Court decided Brown v. Office of the
Commissioner of Probation,475 Mass. 675 (2016), in
which the Court found that sovereign immunity barred a
Superior Court from awarding postjudgment interest on an
award of attorneys fees and costs against a public
agency. The MCAD concedes that postjudgment
interests on attorneys fees and costs does not accrue under
Brown, but contests when "judgment" is
issued. Because the instant case was adjudicated before the
MCAD under § 5, not in Superior Court under § 9 as
was the case in Brown, the MCAD argues that the
Court should not read Brown to find that interest on
attorneys fees and costs imposed by the MCAD
constitutes postjudgment interest. Instead, the MCAD claims
that all the interest that accrues based upon the MCADâs