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Elliott v. Segal

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

October 15, 2019

JODY ELLIOTT, Plaintiff,
JUDGE HONOR SEGAL, Department of Industrial Accidents; KAREN ANDREAS, The Salem News; and ROSALIN ACOSTA, Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development, Defendants.



         Jody Elliott (“Plaintiff”) filed this action against Judge Honor Segal (“Judge Segal”), Karen Andreas (“Ms. Andreas”), and Rosalin Acosta (“Secretary Acosta”) (collectively, “Defendants”) seeking $800, 000 in damages for violation of her civil rights and of several criminal statutes. [ECF No. 1 (“Complaint” or “Compl.”) at 2-3, 19]. Currently pending before the Court are Defendants' motions to dismiss. [ECF Nos. 17, 19, 21]. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motions to dismiss [ECF Nos. 17, 19, 21] are GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         The following facts are drawn from the Complaint, the well-pleaded allegations of which are taken as true for the purposes of evaluating the motions to dismiss. See Ruivo v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 766 F.3d 87, 90 (1st Cir. 2014). The Court also draws facts from documents attached to and incorporated by reference into the Complaint. A.G. ex rel. Maddox v. Elsevier, Inc., 732 F.3d 77, 80 (1st Cir. 2013).

         1. Judge Honor Segal

         Judge Honor Segal is Plaintiff's former neighbor and currently serves as a judge for the Office of the Department of Industrial Accidents (“DIA”). [Compl. ¶¶ 12-13]. In April 2013, Judge Segal purchased Unit 2 of the K. Ward Handy Condominiums, which is a three-unit condo building in Salem, Massachusetts. [Id. ¶ 13]. At the time, Plaintiff owned Unit 3. [Id.].

         Plaintiff and Judge Segal first met at a condo association meeting in July 2013. [Id.]. Also present at the meeting was Attorney Terrence Kennedy, who attended the meeting at Judge Segal's request in order to help facilitate the meeting, and Doug Hein, then-owner of Unit 1. [Id. ¶ 14; ECF No. 1-2 at 7]. At the meeting, Plaintiff and Judge Segal clashed regarding changes Judge Segal proposed that the condo association make around the building. [Compl. ¶¶ 14-15]. This conflict escalated over the next eighteen months. See [id. ¶¶ 16-20]. Plaintiff repeatedly involved the Salem Police Department in her dispute with Judge Segal and Christopher Patzke, who moved into Unit 1 during this time period. See, e.g., [ECF No. 1-2 at 22, 41, 53, 74]. Judge Segal moved out of her unit in December 2014. See [id. at 71].

         The height of the conflict between Plaintiff and Judge Segal appears to have occurred in October 2014. See [ECF id. at 60-61]. On October 10, 2014, an attorney representing Judge Segal sent a cease and desist notice to Plaintiff and the co-owner of Unit 3 demanding that she “cease and desist from all physical intimidation and physical contact” with Judge Segal. [ECF No. 1-2 at 26]. On October 20, 2014, a “painting of what appears to be Hitler holding his hand up with a swastika on his chest” was found on the common basement door, and Plaintiff was implicated in the incident. [ECF No. 1-2 at 61, 67, 69]. That same day, Plaintiff's daughter reported the door incident to the family's attorney, expressed discomfort with being “implicated . . . as the culprits, ” and stated that she and Plaintiff “[were] clearly targets of a set up of a serious crime.” [ECF No. 1-2 at 69]. On October 21, 2014, Judge Segal met with a Detective at the Salem Police Department “to report ongoing harassment and a civil right[s] violation” and stated that she believed the door incident was retaliation for the cease and desist letter. [Id. at 60-61]. Judge Segal spoke with the Salem Police Department again on December 8, 2014. [Id.]. Following this report, on December 26, 2014, a criminal complaint was issued against Plaintiff for violation of civil rights and criminal harassment. [Compl. ¶ 44; ECF No. 1-2 at 59]. The criminal charges were eventually dismissed. [Compl. ¶ 55].

         2. Karen Andreas

         Karen Andreas is the publisher of the Salem News. [Id. ¶ 52]. On May 6, 2015, The Salem News published an “expose” on Plaintiff that was written by Julie Manganis. [Id.]. Plaintiff maintains that the article contains falsehoods. [Id. ¶ 53]. After Plaintiff's criminal charges were dismissed, she contacted an editor at The Salem News regarding removing or correcting the article and thereafter filed a suit against the newspaper, which was dismissed. [Id. ¶ 55]. The article has not been changed. [Id. ¶ 58].

         3. Secretary Rosalin Acosta

         Secretary Rosalin Acosta is the Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development. See [Id. ¶ 59]. On August 6, 2018, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (“EOLWD”) notified Plaintiff that she was a “security risk” and prohibited her from entering the DIA building in Boston, where Judge Segal works. [Compl. ¶ 8; ECF No. 1-2 at 4]. Receipt of this letter caused an increase in Plaintiff's anxiety and panic attacks. [Compl. ¶ 59].

         B. History of Prior Litigation

         The instant action is at least the sixth action in which Plaintiff has brought claims against Defendants or other individuals and entities associated with the events alleged in the Complaint. Each of these former actions was dismissed with prejudice. The Court recaps below the prior actions and their dispositions.[1]

         1. Elliott v. Segal, No. 1677CV00552 (Mass. Super. Ct.)

         On April 15, 2016, Plaintiff brought suit against Judge Segal, Patzke, Al Leone, The Salem News, Editor-in-Chief of The Salem News David Olsen, and reporter Julie Manganis alleging defamation, libel, slander, and harassment. [ECF No. 18-2 at 3, 8, 10]. The claims against Olsen and Manganis were dismissed. [Id. at 5; ECF No. 19-1 at 2]. Following a hearing on pending Rule 12 motions on September 20, 2016, the court dismissed claims against Judge Segal and Patzke because their provision of information to the police was statutorily protected unless it was knowingly false, which Plaintiff could not demonstrate. [ECF No. 18-2 at 6]. The court also dismissed the claims against Leone because the facts alleged failed to state a claim. [Id.].

         2. Elliott v. Baker, No. ...

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