Holloman v. Deakin et al
Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton: ORDER entered. MEMORANDUM AND ORDERIn accordance with the foregoing, the motion by defendant David Deakin to dismiss (Docket No. 106) is ALLOWED.So ordered.David Deakin (Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney, In his Official and individual capacities ) terminated.(Caruso, Stephanie)
United States District Court
District of Massachusetts
Harold Clarke, et al.,
Civil Action No.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Pro se Plaintiff Tajuan Holloman (“Holloman” or “plaintiff)
alleges that defendant David Deakin, an Assistant District
Attorney in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, (“Deakin or
“defendant”) violated his substantive and procedural due process
rights, as well as his right to equal protection, when Deakin
argued in state court that Holloman should not be transferred to
the Suffolk County Nashua Street Jail.
Deakin’s motion to
dismiss is now pending before this Court.
For the reasons that
follow, the motion to dismiss will be allowed.
Tajuan Holloman is an inmate currently incarcerated at the
Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Shirley, Massachusetts
In December, 2010, he was transferred from
Suffolk County Nashua Street Jail (“Nashua Street Jail”) to the
Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Concord, Massachusetts
(“MCI-Concord”) as a pretrial detainee.
Holloman contends that the transfer from Nashua Street Jail
to MCI-Concord, made pursuant to M.G.L. c. 276 § 52A, was
unconstitutional and in violation of Massachusetts law.
maintains that his treatment 1) deprived him of his substantive
and procedural due process rights and his right to equal
protection under the law and 2) subjected him to “infamous
punishment” without having been previously found guilty, in
violation of Article 12 of the Massachusetts Declaration of
Following his transfer to MCI-Concord, plaintiff
purportedly began to suffer mental, emotional and physical harm.
His alleged symptoms included headaches, high blood pressure,
anxiety attacks, heightened pulse, stress and insomnia.
Holloman contacted his attorney and sought to be
transferred back to Nashua Street Jail.
David Deakin, an
Assistant District Attorney for the Suffolk County District
Attorney’s Office, argued against Holloman’s request in state
court in or around February, 2011.
Deakin’s arguments prevailed
and plaintiff remained at MCI-Concord.
Plaintiff was eventually transferred to MCI-Shirley in
Shirley, Massachusetts, where he is currently incarcerated.
In June, 2014, Holloman filed a complaint in this Court
against Deakin and 25 co-defendants.
All defendants are sued in
their official and individual capacities.
They are state
employees and prison officials allegedly involved in 1) the
transfer of plaintiff from Nashua Street Jail to MCI-Concord
and/or 2) his treatment as a pretrial detainee.
The case was
originally assigned to United States District Judge Douglas P.
Woodlock but was reassigned to this session in June, 2015, when
Judge Woodlock took senior status.
Plaintiff initially listed only Deakin as the named
In November, 2014, plaintiff moved to substitute, as
the lead defendant, Harold Clarke (“Clarke”), the Commissioner
of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections.
allowed that motion in April, 2015.
That same month, Judge Woodlock directed plaintiff to show
good cause, in writing, why the claims against Deakin and codefendants Clarke, James Bender, Lois Russo, John Brodbeck,
Jorma Maenpaa, James Thornton, Gregory Berdard, Shelley
Williams, Seargent Fasoli, Thomas Tocci, Nick Palodian, Brian
MacDonald, Michael Rodrigues and f/n/u Wendover should not be
In October, 2015, plaintiff responded to that show cause
He averred, with respect to Deakin’s co-defendants, that
1) his claims were preserved by equitable tolling and 2) he pled
sufficient facts to state claims against them for, inter alia,
cruel and unusual punishment and unlawful denial of his right to
access the courts.
With respect to Deakin, plaintiff stressed
that, although his claims might have been untimely, they were
preserved by the principle of equitable tolling.
that he was required to exhaust administrative remedies prior to
filing his complaint and that he had suffered from a mental
health crisis which made it impossible for him to take legal
He also maintained that he had set forth sufficient
facts to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim.
In May, 2016, Deakin moved to dismiss the claims against
him pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(b)(6), contending that this Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction and that plaintiff failed to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.
That motion is the subject of this
Motion to Dismiss
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) Motion
In opposing a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears
the burden of establishing that the Court has jurisdiction.
Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992).
the defendant mounts a “sufficiency challenge”, the court will
assess the sufficiency of the plaintiff’s jurisdictional
allegations by construing the complaint liberally, treating all
well-pled facts as true and drawing all reasonable inferences in
the plaintiff’s favor. Valentin v. Hospital Bella Vista, 254
F.3d 358, 363 (1st Cir. 2001).
If, however, the defendant advances a “factual challenge”
by controverting the accuracy, rather than the sufficiency, of
the alleged jurisdictional facts, “the plaintiff’s
jurisdictional averments are entitled to no presumptive weight”
and the court will consider the allegations by both parties and
resolve the factual disputes. Id.
The court has “broad
authority” in conducting the inquiry and can, in its discretion,
consider extrinsic evidence in determining its own jurisdiction.
Id. at 363-64.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) Motion
To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain
“sufficient factual matter” to state a claim for relief that is
actionable as a matter of law and “plausible on its face.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 667 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
A claim is
facially plausible if, after accepting as true all nonconclusory factual allegations, the court can draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged. Ocasio-Hernandez v. Fortuno-Burset, 640 F.3d
1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011).
A court may not disregard properly pled
factual allegations even if actual proof of those facts is
Rather, the relevant inquiry focuses on the
reasonableness of the inference of liability that the plaintiff
is asking the court to draw. Id. at 13.
When rendering that determination, a court may not look
beyond the facts alleged in the complaint, documents
incorporated by reference therein and facts susceptible to
judicial notice. Haley v. City of Boston, 657 F.3d 39, 46 (1st
Deakin avers that the claims against him should be
dismissed because 1) he is entitled to prosecutorial immunity,
2) he is entitled to sovereign immunity and 3) plaintiff’s
claims are time-barred and equitable tolling is not warranted.
Although plaintiff generally responds that equitable
tolling applies to all of his claims, he does not address
Deakin’s other assertions.
Prosecutors are afforded two kinds of immunity in suits
brought under 28 U.S.C. § 1983:
absolute and qualified. Kalina
v. Fletcher, 522 U.S. 118, 118 (1997).
When performing their
traditional roles as judicial advocates, prosecutors are
afforded absolute immunity. Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409,
When engaged in other activity unrelated to
advocacy, however, such as serving as a complaining witness,
prosecutors are entitled to only qualified immunity. Kalina, 522
U.S. at 129-35.
The burden is on the defendant to establish
which, if either, immunity applies. Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 509
U.S. 259, 269 (1993).
Deakin has met his burden and established that he is
entitled to absolute immunity by demonstrating that his actions
took place during the scope of his duties as a prosecutor.
Plaintiff asserts that he was injured by Deakin’s oral argument
against his transfer from MCI-Concord to Nashua Street Jail.
That conduct, however, falls within Deakin’s role as an advocate
for the Commonwealth and thus he is immune from suit under
§ 1983. See Celia v. O’Malley, 918 F.2d 1017, 1019 (1st Cir.
1990) (“[I]n presenting the State’s case, the prosecutor is
immune from a civil suit for damages under § 1983.” (quoting
Imbler, 424 U.S. at 431)).
Plaintiff asserts that Deakin knew or should have known
that the initial transfer from Nashua Street Jail to MCI-Concord
That argument is unavailing, however,
because Deakin enjoys absolute immunity when advocating on
behalf of the Commonwealth, regardless of his understanding of
the constitutionality of his conduct. See Cignetti v. Healy, 89
F. Supp. 2d 106, 114 (D. Mass. 2000) (“[T]he absolute immunity
the defendants enjoy for offering the composite tape into
evidence is not defeated by [plaintiff’s] allegations that they
did so maliciously or in bad-faith because they knew or should
have known that the composite tape was fabricated.”).
Accordingly, because Deakin enjoys absolute prosecutorial
immunity, all claims against him will be dismissed.
Sovereign Immunity and Statute of Limitations
Deakin also asserts that Holloman’s claims against him are
barred by the principal of sovereign immunity and the three-year
statute of limitations period.
The Court declines to address
those issues, however, because Deakin has absolute prosecutorial
In accordance with the foregoing, the motion by defendant
David Deakin to dismiss (Docket No. 106) is ALLOWED.
/s/ Nathaniel M. Gorton
Nathaniel M. Gorton
United States District Judge
Dated February 23, 2017
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