Posts tagged "1107815"

Cantell, et al. v. Commissioner of Correction, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-078-15)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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;   13-P-1858                                       Appeals Court   ROBERT CANTELL & others[1]  vs.  COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION & others.[2] No. 13-P-1858. Suffolk.     December 12, 2014. – July 22, 2015.   Present:  Rubin, Milkey, & Carhart, JJ. Moot Question.  Practice, Civil, Moot case, Dismissal of appeal, Class action.  Commissioner of Correction.  Administrative Law, Regulations.  Imprisonment,  Segregated confinement.  Due Process of Law, Prison classification proceedings.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on January 20, 2012.   Motions to dismiss and for class certification were heard by Elizabeth M. Fahey, J.     Bonita Tenneriello for the plaintiffs. Sheryl F. Grant for the defendants. MILKEY, J.  The plaintiffs are inmates at various State prison facilities who for a time had been held in segregated confinement in so-called “special management units” (SMUs).[3]  They brought this action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the Commissioner and other officials of the Department of Correction (collectively, the DOC).  The plaintiffs’ amended complaint alleged that they, and other inmates similarly situated, cannot be segregated in SMUs without being afforded certain substantive and procedural protections.  Their claims were identical to ones raised by the inmate in LaChance v. Commissioner of Correction, 463 Mass. 767, 774-777 (2012).[4]  Thus, for example, like that inmate, the plaintiffs claimed inter alia that the conditions they faced in the SMUs were as onerous as those faced in so-called “departmental segregation units” (DSUs),[5] and that therefore the DOC was bound to extend to them the benefit of existing regulations governing confinement in the DSUs.  Once the Supreme Judicial Court issued its opinion in LaChance, a Superior Court judge dismissed this action without prejudice to the plaintiffs’ filing a new complaint alleging “that [the] DOC is failing to properly comply with LaChance.”[6]  For the reasons set forth below, we dismiss this appeal from the judgment as moot. Framing the mootness question.  As an initial matter, we note that it is uncontested that the plaintiffs are no longer held in segregated confinement in SMUs.[7]  Accordingly, to the extent that their case seeks to assert their own rights, it is moot.  See Littles v. Commissioner of Correction, 444 Mass. 871, 872 n.3 (2005).  However, a moot case nevertheless can be heard if it presents an issue “of public importance, capable of repetition, yet evading review.”  Superintendent of Worcester State Hosp. v. Hagberg, 374 Mass. 271, 274 (1978).[8]  As […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - July 23, 2015 at 2:13 am

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