Fall River City Council v. Correia, 101019 MASUP, BRCV201900885

Docket Nº:BRCV201900885
Opinion Judge:Raffi N. Yessayan, Justice of the Superior Court
Party Name:FALL RIVER CITY COUNCIL v. Jasiel F. CORREIA, II[1]
Case Date:October 10, 2019
Court:Superior Court of Massachusetts
 
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FALL RIVER CITY COUNCIL

v.

Jasiel F. CORREIA, II1

No. BRCV201900885

Superior Court of Massachusetts, Bristol

October 10, 2019

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON THE PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

Raffi N. Yessayan, Justice of the Superior Court.

The Fall River City Council (the "Council" or the "plaintiff") moves for a preliminary injunction on the sole count of its verified complaint seeking declaratory relief, pursuant to G.L.c. 231A, § § 1-2, against the current Mayor of Fall River, Jasiel F. Correia, II ("Correia" or the "defendant"), for his failure to temporarily leave office pursuant to a September 10, 2019 vote by the Council. On October 3, 2019, the Court held a hearing on the Council’s motion and took the matter under advisement. After hearing and review of the parties’ submissions, 2 the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

Correia was elected Mayor of the City of Fall River (the "City") in November 2015, was re-elected in November 2017, and received the most votes after a recall election in March 2019. Regardless of the results of the upcoming November 5, 2019 election, to which Correia qualified, he is set to remain the City’s mayor until at least January 3, 2020, the end of his current term.

On October 4, 2018, the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts ("U.S. Attorney") filed a thirteen-count indictment against Correia. These indictments related to conduct prior to Correia becoming mayor. On September 5, 2019, the U.S. Attorney filed a First Superseding Indictment, charging Correia with an additional eleven federal crimes. Unlike the indictments brought against Correia on October 4, 2018, these new indictments related to alleged conduct during Correia’s time as mayor (the "Sept. 5, 2019 Indictments").3

On September 10, 2019, the Council met to consider whether it should vote to temporarily relieve Correia of his mayoral duties. In light of the Sept. 5, 2019 Indictments, the Council, pursuant to Section 3-8(a) of the City of Fall River Home Rule Charter (the "Charter"), voted eight to one in favor of temporarily removing Correia from office. In pertinent part, Section 3-8 of the Charter. entitled "TEMPORARY ABSENCE OF THE MAYOR," states: (a) Acting Mayor- Whenever, by reason of sickness or other cause, the mayor is unable to perform the duties of the office, the president of the city council shall be the acting mayor ... The city council, by the affirmative vote of 7 members, shall determine whether the mayor is unable to perform the duties of the office. The vote shall be taken in public session by roll call vote.

The Council also issued an Emergency Order at the meeting. The Emergency Order indicated the Council’s vote, and ordered Correia to relinquish control of his office by Friday, September 13, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. On September 18, 2019, upon Correia’s continued refusal to leave office, the Council voted to seek judicial enforcement of its September 10, 2019 vote.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

In considering the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction, the Court "must first determine whether the plaintiff has shown a likelihood of success on the merits of the asserted claim and then determine whether the requested order promotes the public interest, or alternatively, that the equitable relief will not adversely affect the public." Fordyce v. Town of Hanover, 457 Mass. 248, 255 n.10 (2010) (internal quotations and citations omitted). A private party, upon moving for a preliminary injunction, is usually required to demonstrate that irreparable harm would result without immediate relief. See Packaging Indus. Group, Inc. v. Cheney, 380 Mass. 609, 617 (1980). "When, however, a suit is brought either by the government or a citizen acting as a private attorney general to enforce a statute or a declared policy of the Legislature irreparable harm is not...

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