United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
former paramedic student has brought suit against a
municipality, alleging that the municipality violated his
procedural due process rights when the chief of the
municipality's rescue department publicly associated him
with an investigation into missing fentanyl. The former
paramedic student asserts that as a result of the defamatory
statement, he was dismissed from the paramedic program at his
community college, and that his career as an EMT and future
paramedic has been destroyed. In addition to the procedural
due process claim, the former paramedic student also asserts
a standalone claim for punitive damages.
municipality moves to dismiss for failure to state a claim.
The Court dismisses the procedural due process claim because
the former paramedic student has not shown that the chief was
involved in the community college's decision to dismiss
the former paramedic student, and because the burdens on the
student's future employment prospects, without more, are
not constitutionally cognizable injuries. Furthermore, the
Court dismisses the punitive damages claim because punitive
damages are a remedy, not a standalone count. However, the
Court grants the student fourteen days to file a motion for
leave to amend his complaint with a properly framed amended
January 26, 2016, Paul Bernard, Jr., filed a complaint
against the town of Lebanon, Maine (Town). Compl.
(ECF No. 1) (Compl.). On March 10, 2016,
the Town filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim. Def. Town's Mot. to Dismiss Pl.'s
Compl. (ECF No. 4). Mr. Bernard responded on March 23,
2016. Obj. of Pl. Paul Bernard, Jr. to the Def. Town of
Lebanon's Mot. to Dismiss Pl.'s Compl. (ECF No.
5). In the final sentence of his response, Mr. Bernard moved
for leave to amend his complaint “to include a Due
Process claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.”
Id. at 11; Mot. to Amend Compl. (ECF No.
6). The Town replied to Mr. Bernard's response on April
5, 2016. Def. Town's Reply to Pl.'s Resp. to the
Town's Mot. to Dismiss Pl.'s Compl. (ECF No. 8).
22, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued a recommended decision
in which he recommended that the Court grant Mr.
Bernard's motion to amend the complaint. Recommended
Decision on Mot. to Dismiss and Mot. to Amend at 1 (ECF
No. 9) (Recommended Decision). On August 15, 2016,
the Court adopted the Magistrate Judge's recommendation
without objection and permitted Mr. Bernard ten days to file
an amended complaint, following which the Court would deny
the Town's motion to dismiss, but failing which the Court
would grant the motion with prejudice. Order Affirming
the Recommended Decision of the Magistrate Judge at 1
(ECF No. 10) (Order). Mr. Bernard filed an amended
complaint on August 23, 2016, First Am. Compl. (ECF
No. 11) (Am. Compl.), and the Court denied the
Town's motion to dismiss the same day. Order Den.
Mot. to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (ECF No.
September 13, 2016, the Town filed a motion to dismiss Mr.
Bernard's amended complaint. Def. Town's Mot. to
Dismiss Pl.'s Am. Compl. (ECF No. 13) (Def.'s Mot.).
On September 22, 2016, Mr. Bernard filed a response. Obj. of
Pl. Paul Bernard Jr. to the Def. Town of Lebanon's Mot.
to Dismiss Pl.'s Am. Compl. (ECF No. 14) (Pl.'s
Resp.). The Town replied on October 6, 2016. Def. Town's
Reply to Pl.'s Obj. to Town's Mot. to Dismiss
Pl.'s Am. Compl. (ECF No. 15) (Def.'s Reply).
The Alleged Facts
Bernard, Jr., is a resident of Dover, New Hampshire. Am.
Compl. ¶ 1. Mr. Bernard became an EMT in 2008.
Id. ¶ 7. In September 2012, Mr. Bernard began
attending Northern Essex Community College (NECC) in
Massachusetts to become a paramedic. Id. Mr. Bernard
started a field internship with Cataldo Ambulance, a
Massachusetts company, in December 2013. Id. ¶
8. In January 2014, Mr. Bernard went on a Cataldo Ambulance
call during which a patient was administered an entire
pre-filled syringe (2 mg) of Narcan. Id. ¶ 9.
After transporting the patient to the hospital, Mr.
Bernard's supervisor asked if Mr. Bernard wanted to keep
the empty vial of Narcan for training purposes. Id.
¶ 10. Mr. Bernard replied, “Yes, as long as
it's okay, ” and the supervisor gave him the empty
about January 28, 2014, Mr. Bernard had a telephone
conversation with Mario Stefano, an employee of the Lebanon
Rescue Department. Id. ¶ 11. Mr. Bernard had
been working as an EMT for the Lebanon Rescue Department
since August 2013. Id. The conversation revolved
around another employee and possible missing Fentanyl-a
matter that Mr. Bernard alleges had nothing to do with him.
Id. During the conversation, it came up that the
other employee possessed empty vials, and Mr. Stefano opined
that this was illegal. Id. Mr. Bernard immediately
told Mr. Stefano about the Narcan vial that his supervisor at
Cataldo Ambulance permitted him to keep for training.
Id. Mr. Bernard stated he did not believe it was
illegal to possess the empty vial but that he would
nevertheless discard the vial the following day, which he
Bernard alleges that Lebanon Rescue Chief Raymond Parent then
ordered Mr. Stefano to call Cataldo Ambulance regarding Mr.
Bernard. Id. ¶ 12. On January 29, 2014, Mr.
Bernard received a call from the Clinical Director of Cataldo
Ambulance informing him that he was being suspended due to an
“ongoing investigation” but did not refer to the
empty vial. Id. ¶ 13. Later that day, Rory
Putnam, Mr. Bernard's Clinical Advisor at NECC asked Mr.
Bernard, “What's going on in Lebanon?”
Id. Mr. Bernard responded that he did not know what
Mr. Putnam was talking about. Id. Mr. Putnam
informed Mr. Bernard that there was a “fentanyl
investigation” and that someone from the Lebanon Rescue
Department had called Cataldo Ambulance and said that Mr.
Bernard was being investigated for fentanyl and the vial.
Bernard alleges that he has never been the subject of a
fentanyl investigation. Id. ¶ 14. Further, Mr.
Bernard asserts that as a result of the Lebanon Rescue
Department's communication with Cataldo Ambulence, he was
dismissed from the paramedic program at NECC and his career
as an EMT and future paramedic has been effectively
Counts in the Amended Complaint
Count I, Mr. Bernard asserts:
Defendant, Town of Lebanon, through its duly authorized
agents, engage[d] in conduct . . . that directly deprived
Plaintiff of his constitutional due process rights not only
through their own individual acts and conduct, but by setting
in motion a series of acts by others which Defendant knew, or
reasonably should have known, would cause Plaintiff to be
deprived of his constitutional rights of due process and
would result in his losing his career and livelihood and to
suffer other direct and consequential damages.
Id. ¶ 19. Specifically, Mr. Bernard alleges
that the Town, through its agents, made defamatory statements
to Cataldo Ambulance that culminated in his dismissal from
the paramedic program at NECC. Id. ¶¶ 12,
14, 16. Mr. Bernard states that the Town's conduct
resulted in damage to his reputation, the loss of his career,
a loss of income and earning capacity, emotional distress,