Plaintiff brought an action against the city under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act after her brother committed suicide in jail. The court granted a motion by the city for summary judgment; the plaintiff appealed. The plaintiff claimed that there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the city (i.e., the police) knew or had reason to know of plaintiff’s brother’s suicidal tendency.
To avoid the entry of summary judgment against her, a party must allege specific facts which establish that there is a genuine issue for trial; the party cannot fail to file an opposing affidavit and hope that the judge will draw contradictory inferences in her favor from the facts presented in the opposing party’s affidavit.
Plaintiff’s brother committed suicide by hanging in jail after he was arrested for open and gross lewdness. Plaintiff, as the administratrix of her brother’s estate, brought an action against the city under the state (Massachusetts) Tort Claims Act. The Massachusetts Superior Court granted a motion for summary judgment made by the city. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the court erred in granting summary judgment because there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the city (i.e., the police) knew or had reason to know of her brother’s suicidal tendency.
Did the Superior Court err in granting summary judgment in defendant’s favor?
No. Summary judgment was properly granted to the defendant.
In order to survive the motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff had to show that there were material facts in issue relating to the city’s duty to the plaintiff’s brother, and the breach of that duty. Moreover, regarding the existence of this duty, there had to be evidence that the city knew, or had reason to know, of the plaintiff’s brother’s suicidal tendencies. The court rejected the plaintiff’s contention that she could prove that the city knew, or should have known, of her brother’s alleged suicidal tendencies.