United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
SCOTT L. HEAGNEY, Plaintiff,
LISA W. WONG, in her individual and official capacities, CITY OF FITCHBURG, Defendants.
ORDER AND MEMORANDUM ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
ENTRY OF AMENDED FINAL JUDGMENT WITH ATTORNEYS' FEES,
COSTS, AND POSTJUDGMENT INTEREST (DOCKET NO. 242)
TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN, DISTRICT JUDGE
L. Heagney (“Plaintiff”) filed this action
against Lisa A. Wong, in her individual and official
capacities, and the City of Fitchburg (collectively,
“Defendants”), alleging defamation and violations
of M.G.L. c. 151B § 4(9) (“Chapter 151B”).
(Docket No. 1-1). The jury returned a verdict in
Plaintiff's favor and awarded him $750, 000 in
compensatory damages for his defamation claim and $750, 000
in punitive damages for his Chapter 151B claim. (Docket No.
168 at 6, 9-10). The Court entered judgment for Plaintiff on
March 17, 2017 (Docket No. 174), and amended that judgment on
October 2, 2017, to include $550, 000.00 in attorneys'
fees, $5, 697.90 in non-taxable costs, and $244, 037.67 in
prejudgment interest (Docket No. 223). The Court also taxed
costs of $11, 797.22 against Defendants under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 54(d). (Docket No. 231).
appeal, the First Circuit (1) reversed the Court's
judgment of liability as to defamation and (2) affirmed the
Court's judgment of liability as to but reversed the
award of punitive damages for the Chapter 151B violation.
(Docket No. 240 at 1). Plaintiff now moves for attorneys'
fees, costs, and post-judgment interest. (Docket No. 242).
Plaintiff also moves for costs under Rule 54(d). (Docket No.
242). For the following reasons, the Court
denies the portion of the motion
requesting attorneys' fees, costs, and post-judgment
interest and grants the portion of
the motion requesting costs under Rule 54(d).
Attorneys' Fees, Costs, and Post-Judgment Interest
argues that, given the First Circuit's affirmance of
liability on his Chapter 151B claim, he is entitled to
attorneys' fees, costs, and post-judgment interest as the
“prevailing party” under M.G.L. c. 151B § 9.
The Court disagrees. Kiely v. Teradyne, Inc., 85
Mass.App.Ct. 431 (2014), precludes recovery of attorneys'
fees or costs for a violation of Chapter 151B where a
plaintiff does not receive any relief. Plaintiff, having
not received any punitive or compensatory damages, therefore
cannot recover attorneys' fees or costs for his Chapter
contends that Kiely allows an award of
attorneys' fees in these circumstances because, unlike
the jury in Kiely, which failed to make an
independent finding of harm, the jury here found that
Plaintiff suffered harm as a result of the Chapter 151B
violation. (Docket No. 242 at 3). This argument is
unpersuasive. Plaintiff relies on the distinction between a
finding of no actual harm and a finding of actual but not
quantifiable harm. Yet, Plaintiff fails to demonstrate that
the jury placed his harm into the latter category. Plaintiff
never suggested during trial that his harm could not be
quantified. (Docket No. 243-1). To the contrary, he offered
expert testimony and evidence regarding the amount of
compensatory damages to which he was entitled. (Docket No.
243-1). That the jury declined to award him any compensatory
damages on this record does not mean that it found his harm
unquantifiable. (Docket No. 168 at 8-9). Indeed,
Kiely suggests the opposite, i.e., that a jury's
award of zero compensatory damages in the wake of a
plaintiff's submission of evidence regarding his losses
constitutes an “express reject[ion]” of actual
damages. See Kiely, 85 Mass.App.Ct. at 447.
also suggests that he received a form of declaratory judgment
because the First Circuit affirmed judgment as to liability
under Chapter 151B. But neither this Court nor the First
Circuit mentioned declaratory judgment or any other form of
injunctive relief in their decisions, and the Court declines
to rule that a finding of liability alone suffices to create
Plaintiff has not received any relief, he cannot recover
attorneys' fees or costs. The Court therefore
denies this portion of
also moves for taxable costs under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 54(d), which enables a court to award costs, other
than attorneys' fees, to a “prevailing party”
unless otherwise prohibited under law. (Docket No. 242 at 2).
As Defendants have not offered any opposition to this portion
of Plaintiff's motion, the Court
grants the request and taxes $11,
797.22 in costs against Defendants under Rule 54(d).
reasons stated above, Plaintiff's motion is
granted in part and
denied in part. (Docket No. 242).