Posts tagged "1016716"

LaChance v. Commissioner of Correction (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-167-16)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030;   SJC-12016   EDMUND LaCHANCE  vs.  COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION & others.[1]       Essex.     March 10, 2016. – October 21, 2016.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk, & Hines, JJ.[2]     Civil Rights, Attorney’s fees.  Practice, Civil, Attorney’s fees.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on June 20, 2006.   Following review by this court, 463 Mass. 767 (2012), a motion for attorney’s fees was heard by Robert A. Cornetta, J., and a motion for reconsideration was considered by him.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.     William D. Saltzman for the defendants. James R. Pingeon for the plaintiff.   GANTS, C.J.  This appeal concerns an award of attorney’s fees under the Federal Civil Rights Attorney’s Fees Award Act of 1976, 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b), in a civil rights action brought by a Massachusetts prison inmate, Edmund LaChance.  LaChance claimed that the defendants violated his constitutional due process rights by holding him in essentially solitary confinement in a special management unit (SMU) for ten months, without a hearing, while waiting to transfer or reclassify him.  That litigation eventually resulted in our decision in LaChance v. Commissioner of Correction, 463 Mass. 767 (2012) (LaChance I), where we announced “for the first time that segregated confinement on awaiting action status for longer than ninety days gives rise to a liberty interest entitling an inmate to notice and a hearing,” and a written posthearing decision.  Id. at 778.  See id. at 776-777.  On remand, a Superior Court judge entered declaratory judgment in favor of LaChance and awarded him $ 28,578.69 in attorney’s fees and costs under 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b).  The defendants are challenging that award in this appeal. The principal issue before us is whether LaChance qualified for an award of fees as a “prevailing party” under § 1988(b), even though he had already been discharged in 2006 from the SMU detention that was the subject of his suit, long before he won any relief in his favor.  The defendants argue that, in these circumstances, LaChance was not a prevailing party because the declaratory judgment he ultimately won was moot, and did not directly benefit him or materially alter his relationship with the defendants, at the time it was entered.  We conclude, however, […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - October 21, 2016 at 8:32 pm

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