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Girard v. Dodd

United States District Court, D. Maine

August 2, 2019

BERTRAND GIRARD, Plaintiff,
v.
STEPHEN DODD, Defendant

          ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND MOTION FOR JUDGMENT

          LANCE E. WALKER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         In this action, the Plaintiff, Bertrand Girard, alleges Biddeford Police Officer Stephen Dodd sexually assaulted him during a five-year period when Girard was a minor. Plaintiff also alleges that Roger Beaupre, then the Chief of Police of the Biddeford Police Department, knew or should have known of Officer Dodd's misconduct and failed to take action to prevent the abuse. Plaintiff filed this civil action against Mr. Dodd, Mr. Beaupre, and the City of Biddeford.

         Defendant Stephen Dodd - a self-represented litigant and the only remaining defendant - now moves for summary judgment on the claims against him by “join[ing] in certain sections of the motion for summary judgment and statement of material facts that has been filed on behalf of Roger Beaupre and the City of Biddeford.” Mot. Summ. J. 1 (ECF No. 137, #725). As Plaintiff did not file a response to Dodd's motion for summary judgment, Dodd additionally filed a “motion for judgment, ” requesting this Court grant his motion for summary judgment due to Plaintiff's failure to respond. (ECF No. 140, #731-32).

         For the reasons discussed herein, Defendant Dodd's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 137) is GRANTED.

         SUMMARY JUDGMENT FACTS

         If a party opposing a motion for summary judgment fails to file a written objection (along with a memorandum of law) within 21 days from the date the motion was filed, that party will be “deemed to have waived objection.”[1] Me. Loc. R. 7(b); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2), (3) (“If a party fails to . . . properly address another party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may: . . . consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion [or] grant summary judgment if the motion and supporting materials - including the facts considered undisputed - show that the movant is entitled to it.”). Because Plaintiff has failed to respond to Dodd's motion for summary judgment, I “accept the moving party's facts as stated.” Cabán Hernández v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., 486 F.3d 1, 7 (1st Cir. 2007); see also Me. Loc. R. 56(f) (“Facts contained in a supporting or opposing statement of material facts, if supported by record citations as required by this rule, shall be deemed admitted unless properly controverted.”).

         Although Defendant Dodd did not strictly comply with the District of Maine Local Rules, see Me. Loc. R. 7(a) (“Every motion shall incorporate a memorandum of law, including citations and supporting authorities.”), Me. Loc. R. 56(b) (“A motion for summary judgment shall be supported by a separate, short, and concise statement of material facts, each set forth in a separately numbered paragraph(s), as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue of material fact to be tried.”), Dodd did endeavor to join Defendants Beaupre and the City of Biddeford's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 134), which comply with the District of Maine Local Rules.[2]

         As outlined in Defendants Beaupre and the City of Biddeford's motion and accompanying documents, in the late 1970s, when Plaintiff was approximately fifteen years old, he met Stephen Dodd who, at the time, was a member of the Biddeford Police Department.[3] Defs.' Statement of Material Facts (“SMF”) ¶¶ 131, 139 (ECF No. 135, #516-17); Girard Dep. 138:2-9 (ECF No. 135-1, #555). Plaintiff and Dodd developed a close relationship (Plaintiff allegedly considered Dodd to be “like a big brother or father figure”) and soon thereafter, Plaintiff moved in with Dodd. SMF ¶¶ 141, 143; Girard Dep. 194:9-10. Plaintiff asserts Dodd began to sexually abuse him shortly after Plaintiff moved in and continued to abuse him until Plaintiff reached his early thirties. SMF ¶¶ 146, 147-50; Girard Dep. 194:15-195:6.

         Throughout his life, Plaintiff has received mental health treatment from at least five counselors. SMF ¶ 61; Girard Dep. 151:8-24. The record indicates Plaintiff revealed his history with Dodd to at least four of these counselors. SMF ¶¶ 62-63; Girard Dep. 152:11- 13, 155:4-16, 158:25-159:8, 159:12-15, 160:10-13. In addition to addressing his history with Dodd, these counselors also provided support relating to Plaintiff's drug and alcohol use. SMF ¶ 61; Girard Dep. 152:16.

         From a young age, Plaintiff has held a variety of jobs, SMF ¶¶ 65-69, 71, 73, 76; Girard Dep. 36:16-44:13, and for the past twenty years, Plaintiff has owned and operated his own business. SMF ¶ 77; Girard Dep. 42:17-20, 53:11-14. Plaintiff has also rented numerous properties and has owned and lived in a home with his wife for the past 12 years. SMF ¶¶ 52, 55-56; Girard Dep. 8:17-10:7.

         The record indicates Plaintiff had various interactions with the legal system over the years - ranging from receiving legal custody of four of his children by court order, retaining an attorney to assist him with child support issues, to filing personal injury lawsuits. SMF ¶¶ 16, 26-28, 42, 44; Girard Dep. 111:17-22, 118:17-23, 119:21-24, 130:7-25. In 2000, Plaintiff approached an attorney regarding “what Steve Dodd did to [him], ” but ultimately decided against filing a lawsuit at that time. SMF ¶ 48-49; Girard Dep. 167:13-21, 168:12-13.

         Plaintiff commenced this civil action on January 28, 2016, asserting a federal civil rights claim and a state law assault claim against Dodd based on the sexual abuse inflicted by Dodd between 1977 and 1982 (when Plaintiff turned eighteen). Compl. (ECF No. 1-1). On April 1, 2019, Dodd filed a motion for summary judgment. Mot. Summ. J. (ECF No. 137). Dodd's motion consists entirely of his argument that the statute of limitations for each claim asserted by Plaintiff has expired and that the applicable statute of limitations has not been tolled. Mot. Summ. J. 1-2 (ECF No. 137, #725-26).

         DISCUSSION

         Despite Plaintiff's failure to respond to the motion for summary judgment, I will not automatically grant Dodd's motion for summary judgment. NEPSK, Inc. v. Town of Houlton, 283 F.3d 1, 7-8 (1st Cir. 2002); Leonard v. Young, No. CV-09-192-B-W, 2010 WL 785990, at *1 (D. Me. Mar. 2, 2010) (“The failure of the non-moving party to respond does not automatically entitle the movant to summary judgment.”). I must only grant Dodd's motion if it is “appropriate” or, in other words, if his submission shows that there is no genuine ...


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