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Simone v. Monaco

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

November 12, 2019

RICHARD SIMONE, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW MONACO, JOSEPH FLYNN, ROBERT QUINN, RICHARD MCKEON, THOMAS LENCKI, JR., MARK SUTTMEIER, CLARK GEPHARDT, JOSHUA TREFRY, STEVEN HALLAM, JAMES TOLLNER, JONATHAN BOURGET, JONATHAN SANTIMORE, DAVID ARMSTONG, & JARROD WOELLER, Defendants.

          ORDER AND MEMORANDUM ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS (DOCKET NO. 15)

          TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Richard Simone, Jr. (“Plaintiff”) filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for battery and violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Docket No. 1). Sergeant Clark Gephardt (“Sergeant Gephardt”), Officer Steven Hallam (“Officer Hallam”), Sergeant Joshua Trefry (“Sergeant Trefry”), and Commissioner James Tollner (“Commissioner Tollner”) (collectively, the “Nashua Defendants”) move to dismiss the claims against them for lack of jurisdiction. (Docket No. 15). Because Plaintiff has not shown that the Nashua Defendants are subject to personal jurisdiction in Massachusetts, the Court grants the motion to dismiss.

         Background

         The following facts are taken from Plaintiff's Complaint (Docket No. 1) and assumed true for the purposes of this motion.

         On May 5, 2016, the Worcester District Court issued a warrant for Plaintiff's arrest after he failed to appear at a probation hearing. (Docket No. 1 at 6). Six days later, as Massachusetts police officers tried to arrest Plaintiff, Plaintiff drove over the border into New Hampshire. (Docket No. 1 at 7-8). The Massachusetts police officers coordinated with New Hampshire police officers to continue pursuing Plaintiff. (Docket No. 1 at 8). The pursuit ended when Plaintiff stopped his vehicle on a residential dead-end street in Nashua, New Hampshire. (Docket No. 1 at 8).

         Plaintiff remained in his vehicle as officers from Massachusetts State Police, New Hampshire State Police, Holden Police Department, and Nashua Police Department surrounded him. (Docket No. 1 at 8). Sergeant Gephardt, Officer Hallam, and Sergeant Trefry of the Nashua Police Department were among those present. (Docket No. 1 at 8). Plaintiff complied with an officer's order to exit the vehicle and get on the ground. (Docket No. 1 at 8-9). After his surrender, Troopers Andrew Monaco and Joseph Flynn began to strike Plaintiff's body repeatedly. (Docket No. 1 at 10). Although officers of the Nashua Police Department tried to handcuff Plaintiff at one point, they did not try to stop the troopers from hitting Plaintiff. (Docket No. 1 at 10-11). Plaintiff was eventually taken to a hospital in New Hampshire to treat the injuries he sustained during this beating.

         On May 8, 2019, Plaintiff filed a § 1983 action against, among others, the Nashua Defendants. (Docket No. 1). Count II alleges that Sergeant Gephardt and Officer Hallam physically restrained Plaintiff while state police officers struck him in violation of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Docket No. 1 at 17). Count III alleges that Sergeant Gephardt and Officer Hallam committed battery against Plaintiff. (Docket No. 1 at 18). Count IV alleges that Sergeant Gephardt, Officer Hallam, and Sergeant Trefry violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights by failing to intervene when state police officers hit Plaintiff. (Docket No. 1 at 19). Finally, Count VII alleges that the Nashua Police Department, acting under the supervision of Commissioner Tollner, failed to adequately “train its officers or . . . maintain a policy of intervention when an officer witnesses another law enforcement officer engaging in the clear use of excessive force.” (Docket No. 1 at 24).

         The Nashua Defendants moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction on August 16, 2019. (Docket No. 15).

         Legal Standard

         A plaintiff bears “the burden of establishing that jurisdiction over the defendant lies in the forum state.” Baskin-Robbins Franchising LLC v. Alpenrose Dairy, Inc., 825 F.3d 28, 34 (1st Cir. 2016). When a defendant moves to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), “the court may proceed to adjudication by one or another among several different methods.” Boit v. Gar-Tec Prod., Inc., 967 F.2d 671, 674 (1st Cir. 1992). The most commonly used standard, applicable here, is the prima facie standard. Id. at 675. Under the prima facie standard, a court considers “whether the plaintiff has proffered evidence that, if credited, is enough to support findings of all facts essential to personal jurisdiction.” Id. A plaintiff “ordinarily cannot rest upon the pleadings, but is obliged to adduce evidence of specific facts” supporting jurisdiction. Foster-Miller, Inc. v. Babcock & Wilcox Canada, 46 F.3d 138, 145 (1st Cir. 1995).

         Discussion

         To establish personal jurisdiction over the Nashua Defendants, Plaintiff “must meet the requirements of both the Massachusetts long-arm statute and the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” See A Corp. v. All Am. Plumbing, Inc., 812 F.3d 54, 58 (1st Cir. 2016). “The jurisdictional requirements imposed by the Massachusetts long-arm statute are quite similar to, though not completely congruent with, the jurisdictional requirements imposed by the Due Process Clause.” Baskin-Robbins, 825 F.3d at 34. In this case, the differences between the requirements of the Massachusetts long-arm statute and the Due Process Clause are not relevant.

         There are two types of personal jurisdiction available: general jurisdiction and specific jurisdiction. Plaintiff asserts both types of personal jurisdiction here.

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