Dismissal of Civil Rights Action Filed by Tenant

Attorney Matthew Lindberg successfully obtained the dismissal of a civil rights action brought by a former tenant of a public housing complex.

The plaintiff filed a complaint against the Housing Authority alleging that the defendant violated her civil rights, invaded her privacy, violated due process, damaged her personal property and caused her emotional distress. The plaintiff had barricaded herself in her apartment, necessitating the involvement of local police.

Prior to the referral of the case to Hassett & Donnelly, the Housing Authority had been defaulted for failure to file an Answer to the Complaint. When the court scheduled an Assessment of Damages hearing, Attorney Lindberg successfully moved to remove the default. He then filed a Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure.

Attorney Lindberg argued that the plaintiff’s Complaint lacked any factual description of the acts alleged to have caused plaintiff’s damages.

Associate Justice Douglas Wilkins of the Norfolk Superior Court granted the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss, adopting the heighted pleading standard established by the Federal court in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 50 U.S. 544 (2007) and further expounded upon by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Iannacchnio v. Ford Motor Co.., 451 Mass. 623, 636 (2008), wherein the Supreme Judicial Court held that the plaintiff’s “factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relieve about the speculative level.” Justice Wilkins ruled that the Plaintiff’s Complaint in the subject action did not allege sufficient facts to meet the Iannacchino test.

In dismissing the Complaint, the court invited the plaintiff to file a Motion to Amend the Complaint to properly articulate a claim. The plaintiff did file a Motion to Amend, which was opposed by the defendant. The plaintiff’s motion was denied.