United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton, United States District Judge
case arises out of a claim for discrimination under Title II
of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“the
ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq.
Strunk (“Strunk” or “plaintiff”)
alleges that the City of Beverly Police Department
(“the Beverly Police Department”) and Officer
Ryan Hegarty (“Officer Hegarty”) (collectively
“defendants”) violated his rights under the ADA
by 1) forcing him to undertake (and failing to make
reasonable accommodations for) standard field sobriety tests
after he was pulled over for suspected drunk driving and 2)
thereafter arresting him for and charging him with operating
under the influence after he failed those tests. Strunk
maintains that he failed the field sobriety tests because of
his alleged disabilities rather than as a result of being
intoxicated. Nevertheless, he was convicted by a jury of
operating under the influence and other related offenses. He
subsequently brought this ADA claim.
the Court is defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim on the basis that 1) there is no individual
liability under the ADA, 2) the claims are precluded by the
principle announced by the Supreme Court in Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 484 (1994), 3) the claim is
barred by issue preclusion, 4) the individual officer
defendant is entitled to qualified immunity and 5) the
Beverly Police Department is not a governmental entity
amenable to suit under the ADA. For the following reasons,
the Court finds that plaintiff's ADA claim is barred by
the doctrine of issue preclusion and thus will be dismissed.
is a resident of Danvers, Massachusetts. He submits that he
is “a 100% handicapped, disabled veteran” with
the following alleged disabilities: 1) “a large ventral
hernia”, 2) “bilateral flat feet”, 3)
“bilateral shoulder osteoarthritis”, 4)
“bilateral knee osteoarthritis (bone on bone)”,
5) a “right foot cyst”, 6) “hearing
loss” and 7) “others”.
January, 2018, Officer Hegarty stopped Strunk while he was
traveling late at night in his vehicle. Officer Hegarty
suspected Strunk of driving under the influence after he saw
the passenger in the vehicle throw a glass bottle out the
window. After providing Officer Hegarty with his
identification, Strunk was asked to get out and step to the
rear of the vehicle. Strunk allegedly informed the officer
that he was disabled and could not walk well.
Officer Hegarty instructed plaintiff to perform various
standard field sobriety tests. He was first asked to perform
the so-called “walk and turn test”. Strunk
allegedly repeated that he was disabled and could not walk
well but complied with the officer's command. Strunk
failed that test which he submits was a result of his various
Strunk was directed to stand on one leg which he protested he
was unable to perform because of his disabilities. Officer
Hegarty apparently accepted that explanation and moved on to
the third test which was the “Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
Test”. Strunk believes that he passed that final test.
Officer Hegarty concluded, however, that plaintiff was
intoxicated and placed him under arrest.
on the way to the Beverly Police Station, Strunk began to
experience chest and leg pain and believed that he was having
a heart attack. He was taken immediately to the local
hospital. Strunk contends that he was never offered a
breathalyzer test at the hospital but that the Beverly Police
Department falsely charged him with refusing a breathalyzer.
He also alleges that he requested a blood alcohol test at the
hospital to prove that he was not intoxicated but that the
hospital refused to administer the test because it was
“not medically indicated”. No. other tests were
performed that night to establish plaintiff's blood
Beverly Police Department subsequently charged Strunk with
operating under the influence and other related violations.
The State Court Conviction
April, 2018, Strunk was tried by jury in Salem District
Court. Officer Hegarty testified that plaintiff had failed
the walk and turn test. When asked what consideration, if
any, he had given to Strunk's alleged disabilities with
respect to his ability to perform the field sobriety tests,
Officer Hegarty testified that he simply moved on to the next
test. The jury found Strunk ...