In January, 2008, members of the Revere Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police executed a search warrant at the residence of the plaintiff in order to locate evidence relating to a marijuana distribution operation that the plaintiff’s son was running out of the home. At the time that the warrant was executed, the plaintiff was out of the country but the plaintiff’s son was home.
In order to gain entry into the residence, the officers were required to breach the door and, in so doing, damaged the door and its frame. Inside the home, the officers found the plaintiff’s son, evidence of a marijuana distribution operation and a large floor safe. When the plaintiff’s son denied knowing the combination to the safe, the officers consulted with superiors and with an assistant district attorney and, based upon that guidance, summoned a representative from a safe company to open the safe. The safe was opened by drilling several holes into the safe to open the door. At that point, the ability to relock the safe was compromised.
Inside the safe, the officers did not find evidence of the marijuana operation but instead found a large amount of jewelry being maintained by the plaintiff, who was a jewelry salesman. With the plaintiff’s son under arrest, no one else in the house and the front door to the residence and the safe door both compromised, the officers secured the jewelry and brought it to the Suffolk County Detective Unit’s secure building for safekeeping. Later, some of the officers prepared an inventory of the jewelry that had been taken for safekeeping.
Upon the plaintiff’s return to the country, he met with officers and the jewelry that had been secured from the safe was returned to him. Although the plaintiff agreed that every item on the officers’ inventory was returned, he also claimed that a large amount of jewelry that had been in the safe was not accounted for on the officers’ inventory and was missing.
The plaintiff sued the officers from the Revere Police Department and others, claiming that over $137,000.00 in jewelry had gone missing. The complaint alleged that the Revere officers wrongfully and intentionally took the property and also that the officers conspired to hide their wrongdoing.
After discovery, RJA, which represented the Revere officers, filed a motion for summary judgment asking that the plaintiff’s complaint be dismissed. In March, 2013, the Superior Court Judge who heard the argument issued a decision rejecting all of the plaintiff’s claims against the Revere officers. Specifically, the Judge agreed with RJA’s argument that the officers’ conduct in taking the jewelry to the secure lockup for safekeeping was a reasonable exercise of the officers’ community caretaking function and, further, that the plaintiff was not able to sustain his claims of conversion and conspiracy as a matter of law.
RESULT: Judgment entered in favor of RJA’s clients and the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims.
RJA Counsel: Andrew J. Gambaccini