Connolly v. Shaw's Supermarkets, Inc.
Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton: ORDER entered. MEMORANDUM AND ORDER(Hohler, Daniel)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS
DANIEL P. CONNOLLY,
SHAW’S SUPERMARKETS, INC.,
Civil Action No.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
For the reasons set forth below, the Court (1) allows the
plaintiff’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis; and (2) directs
the plaintiff to file an amended complaint.
On September 12, 2017, pro se litigant Daniel P. Connolly
filed a complaint and a motion for leave to proceed in forma
He names one defendant--his former employer Shaw’s
Supermarkets, Inc. (“Shaw’s”).
His brief statement of the claim
is as follows: “I was wrongly dismissed from my position without
a hearing that I requested in writing.
When the company received
my receiving records, Shaw’s Supermarkets found everything in
Compl. at 4.
On January 12, 2018, the Clerk received a letter in which
Connolly stated that he wanted to submit his entire case filed at
the office of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
Connolly requests advice in obtaining these records
Connolly’s letter uses the phrase “Office of the
Massachusetts Board of Discrimition [sic], which the Court
assumes is a reference to the MCAD.
and asks if the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)
has a copy of them.
Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis
Upon review of the motion to proceed in forma pauperis, the
Court concludes that the plaintiff has adequately shown that he
is without means to prepay the $400.00 filing fee.
therefore allows the motion.
Screening of the Complaint
Because the plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, his
complaint is subject to screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
This statute authorizes federal courts to dismiss actions in
which a plaintiff seeks to proceed without prepayment of fees if
the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a
defendant who is immune from such relief.
See 28 U.S.C.
In conducting this review, the Court liberally
construes the complaint because the plaintiff is proceeding pro
See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).
Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
To state a claim for relief, a complaint must, in compliance
with Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), include “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2).
In other words, the complaint
must “give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff’s
claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.”
Calvi v. Knox
County, 470 F.3d 422, 430 (1st Cir. 2006) (quoting Educadores
Puertorriqueños en Acción v. Hernández, 367 F.3d 61, 66 (1st Cir.
This means that the statement of the claim must “at
least set forth minimal facts as to who did what to whom, when,
where, and why.”
Id. (quoting Educadores, 367 F.3d at 68).
Although the requirements of Rule 8(a)(2) are minimal, “minimal
requirements are not tantamount to nonexistent requirements.”
Id. (quoting Gooley v. Mobil Oil Corp., 851 F.2d 513, 514 (1st
Further, “only a complaint that states a plausible
claim for relief” states a claim upon which relief can be
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009) (emphasis
“Where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to
infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct,” the
complaint does not show that “the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Id. (quoting Fed. R Civ. P. 8(a)(2) in second quotation).
Here, Connolly’s complaint fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted.
While his allegations provide some
information about his claim, he has not “set forth minimal facts
as to who did what to whom [and] when.”
Connolly must file an
amended complaint that follow the instruction of the form
complaint he used: “State how each defendant was involved and
what each defendant did that caused the plaintiff harm or
violated the plaintiff’s rights, including the dates and places
of that involvement or conduct.”
Compl. at 4.
Insufficient Allegations of Actionable Misconduct
Moreover, Connolly’s complaint fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted because he has not alleged facts from
which the Court may reasonably infer that Shaw’s is liable for
misconduct under the law.
For purposes of this order, the Court
credits Connolly’s representation that he did not receive the
hearing he requested and that receiving records later proved that
the accusation of wrongdoing that supposedly the reason for his
termination was later proved to be false.
While the Court can
infer from this claim that the defendant may have acted unfairly,
there is no suggestion that it violated the law.
Under Massachusetts law, absent an employment agreement
providing otherwise, employment is presumed to be “at will,”
meaning that an employee can be discharged at any time, see,
e.g., White v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mass., Inc., 442 Mass.
64, 70 (2004) (employer was “well within its rights” to give atwill employee “any reason, a false reason, or no reason at all
for his termination”), or quit his employment at anytime.
Nonetheless, federal law prohibits an employer from firing
an employee--even an “at will” employee--based on the employee’s
race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
See 42 U.S.C.
In some circumstances, federal law also prohibits
an employer from firing an employee based on the employee’s age
See 29 U.S.C. § 623(a); 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a).
is also unlawful under federal law for an employer to fire an
employee because the employee has opposed illegal discrimination
by the employer.
See 29 U.S.C. § 623(d); 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a);
42 U.S.C. § 12203.
Although Connolly has alleged that his employer treated him
unfairly, he has not alleged any facts from which the Court may
reasonably infer that the termination of his employment violated
He does not suggest that Shaw’s terminated his
employment based on his race, color, religion, sex, national
origin, age, or disability, or because he opposed discriminatory
practices by his employer.
Connolly therefore has not stated a
federal claim upon which relief can be granted.
Similarly, Connolly has not alleged facts from which the
court may infer that Shaw’s violated state law.
He does not
suggest that Shaw’s violated state anti-discrimination laws, see
M.G.L. ch. 151B, § 4(1), that Shaw’s breached an employment
contract, or that the termination otherwise violated
Massachusetts law, see, e.g., Gram v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 384
Mass. 659, 672 (1981) (termination that deprives employee of
compensation for services already performed violates covenant of
good faith and fair dealing).
Further, in the absence of any
federal claim to establish federal question jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. § 1331, and in the apparent absence of diversity of state
citizenship between the parties, see 28 U.S.C. § 1332,2 the Court
would be without subject matter jurisdiction over the state law
It appears that both parties are domiciled in
If Connolly is able to plead a federal claim, the Court may
exercise jurisdiction over any claims arising under state law.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c).
Filing an Amended Complaint
If Connolly wishes to proceed with this action, he must file
an amended complaint within thirty-five days.
complaint must cure the deficiencies of the original complaint.
In other words, it must provide sufficient factual allegations as
to the conduct of Shaw’s and those factual allegations must
contain information from which the Court may reasonably infer
that Shaw’s violated the law.
If Connolly maintains that Shaw’s
illegally discriminated against him, he must identify the basis
of the illegal discrimination (sex, race, age, disability,
complaining of illegal conduct, etc.) and what Shaw’s did to lead
him to believe that his discharge was the result of illegal
As an amended complaint completely replaces the original
complaint, see Connectu LLC v. Zuckerberg, 522 F.3d 82, 91 (1st
Cir. 2008), Connolly should repeat in the amended complaint any
allegations in the original complaint that he wishes to be part
of the operative complaint. Further, the claims in a complaint
must be set forth “in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far as
practicable to a single set of circumstances.”
Fed. R. Civ. P.
Letter Concerning Records from the MCAD
It is unnecessary for Connolly to submit his entire file
from the MCAD to the Court, especially now at the pleading stage,
when the Court will assume the veracity of all well-pled factual
He may attach exhibits to his complaint and
incorporate them by reference, if he chooses, but the complaint
must still set forth a short and plain statement of his claim
showing that he is entitled to relief.
in obtaining records from the MCAD.
The Court plays no role
Finally, Connolly’s question
concerning the records possibly in the possession of the EEOC
should be directed to that agency.
In accordance with the foregoing:
The motion to proceed in forma pauperis (#2) is
The plaintiff is directed to file an amended complaint.
Failure to comply with this directive within thirty-five (35)
days of the date of this Memorandum and Order will result in
dismissal of this action.
/s/ Nathaniel M. Gorton
Nathaniel M. Gorton
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?