STANLEY D. HOWARD
BOSTON WATER AND SEWER COMMISSION & others., 
Heard: May 7, 2019.
action commenced in the Central Division of the Boston
Municipal Court Department on June 24, 2016.
motion to dismiss was heard by Robert J. McKenna, Jr., J.
motion to reinstate an appeal was heard by Wendlandt, J., in
the Appeals Court.
Stanley D. Howard, pro se.
Present: Vuono, Massing, & Ditkoff, JJ.
plaintiff, Stanley D. Howard, appeals from an order of a
single justice of this court denying his motion to reinstate
his appeal from a decision of the Appellate Division of the
Boston Municipal Court. We articulate the standard for
deciding a motion to vacate a dismissal or to reinstate an
appeal in a civil case and conclude that the single justice
acted within her discretion in determining that the plaintiff
failed to make the necessary showing. Accordingly, we affirm
the order denying the plaintiff's motion.
plaintiff resides in a single-family home in the city of
Boston, which is owned by a trust of which the plaintiff is
one of the beneficiaries. In March 2015, the Boston Water and
Sewer Commission (commission) sent a notice to the trust that
it owed $1,890.64 for water usage and that water service
would be shut off if the bill was not paid. The trust did not
pay, and the commission shut off the water on May 13, 2015.
28, 2015, the plaintiff sought an injunction against the
commission in the Housing Court. At a hearing on June 2,
2015, the trustee of the trust was added as a party
defendant, and all parties entered into a settlement
agreement under which water service was restored pursuant to
a payment schedule that would eventually satisfy the unpaid
he had signed the agreement, the plaintiff wanted to be
compensated for the temporary deprivation of water service.
He therefore amended his complaint (five times), alleged
various claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, requested a
declaratory judgment, and sought damages and other relief. On
January 11, 2016, a judge of the Housing Court dismissed the
plaintiff's claim for declaratory judgment as moot and
dismissed the remaining counts for failure to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted. The plaintiff did not
24, 2016, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit in Boston Municipal
Court against the commission, again seeking relief for the
temporary deprivation of water service. On August 22, 2016, a
Boston Municipal Court judge dismissed the complaint. The
plaintiff appealed to the Appellate Division of the Boston
Municipal Court pursuant to G. L. c. 261, § 27D. On
January 29, 2018, a panel of the Appellate Division concluded
that the complaint was properly dismissed on the basis of
claim preclusion and affirmed the order of dismissal.
proceedings in our court were complicated by a dispute
-– never finally resolved -– about the timeliness
of the plaintiff's claim of appeal from the Appellate
Division. Perhaps because of that dispute, the
plaintiff failed to file a brief by the due date of June 4,
2018. On June 15, 2018, the clerk issued a
notice preceding dismissal pursuant to our Standing Order
Concerning Dismissal of Appeals and Reports in All Cases for
Lack of Prosecution (standing order). The plaintiff promptly
filed a motion to extend the time to file a brief, but
without stating a proposed new due date, citing his
difficulties in obtaining a transcript of the proceedings in
the civil ...