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Crump v. Boester

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

January 15, 2015

MARIO CRUMP, Plaintiff,
MATTHEW E. BOESTER, et al., Defendants.


RODNEY W. SIPPEL, District Judge.

Mario Crump brought this suit alleging violations of his civil rights, Missouri state law, and the Americans with Disabilities Act arising from an incident with St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers. Police Chief Samuel Dotson and Mayor Francis G. Slay move to dismiss the claims against them in their official capacities because the claims are redundant of the claims brought against the City of St. Louis. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) moves to dismiss the claims against it because the police department as an administrative arm of the City is not a suable entity. After careful consideration, I will grant the motion to dismiss Dotson, Slay, and the SLMPD from this case.

I. Standard of Review

When ruling on a Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, I am required to accept the complaint's factual allegations as true and to construe them liberally in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. In essence, this mandates that a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. Midwestern Machinery, Inc. v. Northwest Airlines, 167 F.3d 439, 441 (8th Cir. 1999); Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A "plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formalistic recitation of elements of a cause of action will not do." Id . (internal quotations omitted). To survive a motion to dismiss a plaintiff's factual allegations "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 555.

II. Background

This case was originally filed in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri on October 27, 2014. In the complaint, Crump claims that he was unlawfully assaulted and battered by SLMPD officers; that the officers then conspired to unlawfully arrest Crump and to falsify statements to cover up their actions; that he was maliciously prosecuted on those charges; and that these actions were caused by the problematic policies or customs of the City of St. Louis and SLMPD. Crump also alleges that defendants violated the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12132, because he suffers from major depressive disorder, a disability covered by Title II of the ADA, and defendants discriminated against him on the basis of his disability during the events in question.

The complaint alleges the following facts which in consideration of a motion to dismiss are taken as true. On the evening of March 21, 2014, Crump was at home with his wife. Crump had recently been discharged from the psychiatric ward, and his wife became concerned that he was behaving strangely. Ms. Crump called 911 for assistance and told the dispatcher that Crump might need to go back to the psychiatric ward. SLMPD Officers Boester and Schaffer responded to the call, and found Crump in an unconscious or semiconscious condition. Ms. Crump told the officers about Crump's mental state. When Crump was unresponsive to the officers' questions, the officers allegedly assaulted and battered him, causing injuries to his hands and face. Following the altercation, Defendant Doe, who was acting as Boester and Schaffer's supervisor, arrived at Crump's home. Crump was then taken into custody and transported to Barnes Hospital for treatment of his injuries. Later, Crump was charged with Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer in the Second and Third Degrees and Resisting Arrest. Crump was held in jail until March 31, 2014, when he was released on bond.

The defendants named in the complaint are SLMPD Officers Matthew Boester, Gregory Schaffer, and John Doe; Samuel Dotson, in his official capacity as Chief of Police of the SLMPD; Francis Slay, in his official capacity as Mayor of the City of St. Louis; and the City of St. Louis ("the City").

On November 26, 2014, defendants removed this case from the Missouri state court to this Court. On the same date, defendants Dotson, Slay, and SLMPD filed the instant motion to dismiss.

III. Discussion

A. Crump's Claims against Dotson and Slay are Redundant

Suits under 28 U.S.C. § 1983 against a state official in his official capacity "generally represent only another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is an agent." Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165-66 (1985) (citing Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690, n. 55 (1978)). For that reason, it is proper for a court to dismiss a claim against a government officer in his official capacity if it is redundant of a claim asserted against the governmental entity. Veatch v. Bartels Lutheran Home, 627 F.3d 1254, 1257 (8th Cir. 2010).

Moving defendants argue that since Crump has asserted the same claims against the City of St. Louis that he has asserted against Dotson and Slay, and since Dotson and Slay are both government officers of the city, the claims are redundant and should be dismissed. Crump argues that the claims against Dotson are not redundant because the City only admits that Dotson was "Chief of Police for SLMPD" and that he had "limited authority to promulgate some rules and regulations for those under his authority." However, the City has admitted that at all times relevant it operated and maintained the SLMPD, that SLMPD was a department of the City, and that Dotson was the Chief of Police. As Chief of Police, Dotson is, by any reasonable definition, an officer of the City of St. Louis.

Crump also appears to argue that his claims against Slay are not redundant because, in addition to being Mayor, Slay is a final policymaker in his role as a member of the Board of Police Commissioners. This argument, however, fails. While Crump does state in the complaint that Slay is a final policymaker for the SLMPD, he never alleges that this policymaking authority derives from Slay's membership in the Board of Police Commissioners. In fact, the Board of Police Commissioners is never mentioned in the complaint. Additionally, the only capacity in which Crump names Slay as a defendant is in his official capacity as Mayor. Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d), when matters outside the pleadings are presented on a motion to dismiss, the court may either treat the motion as one for summary judgment and provide the parties with an opportunity to provide additional materials, or treat it as one to dismiss and exclude the matters outside the pleadings. See Gibb v. Scott, 958 F.2d 814, 816 (8th Cir. ...

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