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Eden v. Vaughan

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

April 6, 2015

JEREMEY EDEN, Plaintiff,
v.
RONALD VAUGHAN, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

E. RICHARD WEBBER, Senior District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant City of St. Louis's Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 8], and Defendants Ronald Vaughan, Kyle Chandler, and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department's Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 11].

I. BACKGROUND

This lawsuit arises out of a police traffic stop, which occurred in December 2011, and the ensuing events and interactions between Plaintiff Jeremey Eden ("Plaintiff") and various law enforcement officials. According to Plaintiff, upon being pulled over and interacting with Defendants Ronald Vaughan and Kyle Chandler, Plaintiff was arrested and "booked on the following false charges: Assault 3rd degree on Law Enforcement Officer, Resisting Arrest[, ] and Possession of a Controlled Substance" [ECF No. 2 at ¶ 35]. Plaintiff claims he was "deprived of his constitutional rights when law enforcement officials conducted an illegal search and seizure upon his person, falsely arrested him without probable cause, fabricated evidence and submitted false testimony against him, and failed to investigate the said misconduct" [ECF No. 2 at 1].

In December 2014, Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit by filing his "Complaint for Civil Rights Violations, Tort Claims and Damages" [ECF No. 2] in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis [ See ECF Nos. 1, 2], bringing claims against Ronald Vaughan, Kyle Chandler, the City of St. Louis ("City"), the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department ("SLMPD"), John Doe 1, and John Doe 2. Plaintiff's Complaint contains the following claims: the violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, based on Plaintiff's alleged false arrest, brought against Defendants Vaughan and Chandler pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count I); the violation of Article I, Section 15 of the Missouri Constitution, based on Plaintiff's alleged false arrest, brought against Defendants Vaughan and Chandler pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. § 516.130 (Count II); the violation of substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, based on the alleged fabrication of evidence, brought against Defendants Vaughan and Chandler pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count III); the violation of substantive due process under Article I, Section 10 of the Missouri Constitution, based on the alleged fabrication of evidence, brought against Defendants Vaughan and Chandler pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. § 516.130 (Count IV); conspiracy to violate civil rights, brought against Defendants Vaughan and Chandler pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count V); malicious prosecution, brought against Defendants Vaughan and Chandler pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. § 516.130 (Count VI); the violation of substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, based on the alleged "reckless or intentional failure to investigate or report the misconduct, " brought against Defendants John Does 1 and 2 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count VII); the violation of constitutional rights (" Monell Municipal Liability"), brought against the City and SLMPD pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count VIII); and intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED"), against all Defendants (Count IX).

On January 30, 2015, the City filed a Notice of Removal [ECF No. 1], removing the case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1446, 1441, and 1331. On February 5, SLMPD and Defendants Vaughan and Chandler consented to the removal [ECF No. 6]. On February 6, the City filed its Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 8], and on February 13, SLMPD and Defendants Vaughan and Chandler (collectively, the "SLMPD Defendants") filed their joint Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 11]. Both Motions are brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("FRCP") 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim.

II. STANDARD

Under FRCP 12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss a claim for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The notice pleading standard of FRCP 8(a)(2) requires a plaintiff to give "a short and plain statement showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." To meet this standard and to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotations and citation omitted). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. A court accepts "as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint, " and affords the non-moving party "all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from those allegations" when considering a motion to dismiss. Jackson v. Nixon, 747 F.3d 537, 540-41 (8th Cir. 2014) (internal quotations and citation omitted). However, the Court is "not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Carton v. Gen. Motor Acceptance Corp., 611 F.3d 451, 454 (8th Cir. 2010) (internal citation omitted). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal citation omitted). Additionally, "some factual allegations may be so indeterminate that they require further factual enhancement in order to state a claim." Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009).

A well-pleaded complaint may not be dismissed even if it appears proving the claim is unlikely and if the chance of recovery is remote. Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007). However, where the allegations on the face of the complaint show "there is some insuperable bar to relief, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate." Young v. St. John's Mercy Health Sys., No. 10-824, 2011 WL 9155, at *4 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 3, 2011) (internal citation omitted). Further, if a claim fails to allege one of the elements necessary to recovery on a legal theory, that claim must be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Crest Constr. II, Inc. v. Doe, 660 F.3d 346, 355 (8th Cir. 2011). Bare assertions constituting merely conclusory allegations failing to establish elements necessary for recovery will not suffice. See id. ("Plaintiffs, relying on facts not in the complaint, make bare assertions that [defendants] were not just lenders, but owners that controlled the RICO enterprise... these assertions are more of the same conclusory allegation..."). Courts must assess the plausibility of a given claim with reference to the plaintiff's allegations as a whole, not in terms of the plausibility of each individual allegation. Zoltek Corp. v. Structural Polymer Grp., 592 F.3d 893, 896 n.4 (8th Cir. 2010) (internal citation omitted). This inquiry is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

III. DISCUSSION

A. The City's Motion [ECF No. 8]

1. Count VIII

In its introductory description of the "Parties, " the Complaint emphasizes the City's supposed control over SLMPD. For instance, the Complaint states, "Defendant City is responsible for and administers [SLMPD], which in turn promulgates policies and practices for patrolling and policing the [City].... Defendant City... runs, operates, oversees, administers, supervises, and [is] otherwise responsible for the conduct of SLMPD officers and employees, including both acts and omissions of SLMPD officers" [ECF No. 2 at ¶ 7]. The Complaint further alleges:

The City possessed the power and authority to adopt policies and prescribe rules, regulations and practices affecting all facets of the training, supervision, control, employment, assignment and removal of individual officers of the SLMPD, and to assure that said actions, policies, rules, regulations, practices and procedures of the SLMPD and its ...

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