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Whittington v. Isgrig

United States District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, Northern Division

March 19, 2015

VICTORIA WHITTINGTON, MAEGEN BRIGHT, SONDRA LONESS, and Plaintiffs,
v.
MARK ANTHONY ISGRIG, GEORGE LOMBARDI, and ANGELA PEARL, now known as ANGELA MESMER, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

DAVID D. NOCE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

This action is before the court on the motion of defendants Mark Isgrig, George Lombardi, and Angela Mesmer, previously known as Angela Pearl, to partially dismiss plaintiffs’ claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 12(f). (Docs. 80, 82.) The parties have consented to the exercise of plenary authority by the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Doc. 38.)

Pending is the second amended complaint in which plaintiffs Victoria Whittington, Maegen Bright, and Sondra Loness have filed claims against defendants Mark Isgrig, George Lombardi, and Angela Mesmer. (Doc. 75.) According to the second amended complaint, the following occurred. Plaintiffs were prisoners in the custody of the Missouri state Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic, and Correctional Center in Vandalia, Missouri. Defendant Mark Isgrig worked there as a correctional officer. Defendant George Lombardi is Director of the Missouri Department of Corrections. Defendant Angela Mesmer worked there a superintendent and supervised the correctional officers, including defendant Isgrig.

From approximately February 1 to June 22, 2011, defendant Isgrig, in the course of his employment as a correctional officer, touched the three plaintiffs' breasts through their clothing, without their consent, for the purpose of his sexual gratification. Prior to this period, inmates had complained about defendant Isgrig and other employees on multiple occasions. On January 27, 2012, defendant Isgrig pled guilty to two counts of third degree assault. (Id. at ¶ 12, 95); State v. Isgrig, Case No. 11AU-CR00560-01.[1]

In enumerated counts, plaintiffs allege 28 claims for relief against defendants under federal law and Missouri state law. They seek substantial actual damages, punitive damages, attorney fees, and costs. (Id. at 4-35.)

Defendants Lombardi and Mesmer move to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims against them in their official capacities, arguing that 42 U.S.C. § 1983 does not recognize a claim against someone in his or her official capacity. (Doc. 80.) Defendant Isgrig moves to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims in Counts 23 to 29, because they are identical to their claims in Counts 16 to 22. (Doc. 83.) Plaintiffs have not opposed these motions.

A motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) challenges the legal sufficiency of the complaint. See Carton v. Gen. Motor Acceptance Corp., 611 F.3d 451, 454 (8th Cir. 2010). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the complaint must include “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). To meet the plausibility standard, the complaint must contain “more than labels and conclusions.” Id. at 555. The pleading must contain “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

Official Capacity

Defendants Lombardi and Mesmer move to dismiss the claims against them in their official capacities, arguing that claims against state officials in their official capacities are not cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. “[N]either a State nor its officials acting in their official capacities are ‘persons’ under § 1983.” Will v. Mich. Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). Plaintiffs allege claims against defendant Lombardi in his official and individual capacities. (Doc. 75 at ¶¶ 7, 29, 65, 112.) Although the complaint does not clearly state the capacities in which defendant Mesmer is sued, plaintiffs incorporated all previous paragraphs into their allegations against Mesmer, including the ones indicating an intent to sue all defendants in both their individual and official capacities. (Id. at ¶¶ 33, 38, 43, 69, 74, 79, 85, 116, 121, 126, 132.) Plaintiffs seek relief against defendant Isgrig in both his individual and official capacities. (Id. at ¶¶ 5, 29, 65, 112.)

Accordingly, the court dismisses plaintiffs’ federal § 1983 claims against any defendant in his or her official capacity.

Identical Claims

Defendant Isgrig moves to dismiss plaintiffs' redundant claims under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). A district court has “liberal discretion” to strike redundant allegations, while considering that striking a party's pleadings is an extreme measure and is generally viewed with disfavor. Stanbury Law Firm, P.A. v. IRS, 221 F.3d 1059, 1063 (8th Cir. 2000). The court agrees that the claims of plaintiff Loness against defendants in Counts 16 to 22 are identical to the claims in Counts 23 to 29 (Compare Doc. 75 at 25-35 with 35-45.) There are no new facts or claims alleged in Counts 23 to 29. Therefore, they are redundant and are dismissed.

Claims remaining for litigation

The claims of plaintiffs that remain for ...


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