RJA Wins Dismissal of Federal Court Case for Members of the Methuen Police Department

In January 2011 Sgt. Larry Phillips of the Methuen Police Department filed a federal civil rights complaint against a number of his supervisors and co-workers in the department and against the City, his employer.  He claimed that the individual superior officers deprived him of his procedural due process rights when he was placed on suspension in August 2007 and again when he was removed as supervisor of the department’s ATV Unit in January 2011.  He also asserted that these same superior officers conspired together to deprive him of these rights and that they also failed to supervise adequately.  He included various state law claims for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and state civil rights deprivations identical to his federal civil rights claims in his complaint as well.

We represented four of the superior officers in the lawsuit.  We filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim for relief and because some of the claims were time-barred.  The plaintiff opposed our motion and those similar motions of the other defendants.  We requested the authority to file reply memorandum, which the court granted.  This memorandum addressed issues raised by the plaintiff in his opposition, particularly his reliance on a continuing violation theory to try to avoid the statute of limitations bar and his assertion that Massachusetts Civil Service law provided the requisite entitlement to his supervisory position with the ATV Unit.  Ultimately, his arguments on these points failed.

After hearing, the court agreed with our arguments against the vitality of the lawsuit, and it granted all of the motions, dismissing Sgt. Phillips’ federal claims and refusing to exercise discretionary jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims.  It dismissed those, too, but without prejudice to the plaintiff bringing those in state court.  The case is Phillips v. City of Methuen, et als., Civil Action No. 11-10171-JLT.