United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
W. SIPPEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Kristy Cunningham brings due process claims under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against eight individual Defendants, the City of
Farmington, Missouri, and St. Francois County, Missouri. One
of the individual defendants, Leona Bates, moves to dismiss
the claims against her, arguing Cunningham has failed to
allege facts showing Bates, who is not a public official,
acted under color of state law. See Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). Cunningham opposes the motion. Because Cunningham
has sufficiently stated a claim that Bates conspired with
state actors to deprive Cunningham of her constitutional
rights, I will deny the motion.
ruling on a motion to dismiss, I must accept as true all
factual allegations in the complaint and view them in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff. Hager v. Ark.
Dep't of Health, 735 F.3d 1009, 1013 (8th Cir.
2013). Under the federal rules, a plaintiff need not provide
“‘detailed factual allegations, '” but
must provide “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) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007)).
filed her original complaint in this case on June 3, 2016.
She then filed an amended complaint on June 8, 2016. Bates
moved to dismiss Cunningham's original complaint,
see Doc. 7, and then filed another motion to dismiss
Cunningham's amended complaint, see Doc. 14.
Bates's first motion to dismiss is moot. The background
and analysis that follow address Bates's motion to
dismiss Cunningham's amended complaint.
brings due process claims against eight individuals: (1)
Bates; (2) Dennis Smith, the jail administrator for St.
Francois County; (3) David Kennedy, a bailiff employed by St.
Francois County, who Cunningham alleges “regularly ran
errands for the St. Francois County Prosecutor”; (4)
Daniel Bullock, the Sheriff of St. Francois County; (5)
Spring Henson Gray, a clerk or secretary for the St. Francois
County Prosecutor; (6) Donald Duncan, a Farmington police
officer; (7) Rick Baker, Farmington Police Chief; and (8)
John Doe, a Farmington police officer. Cunningham alleges the
following facts relevant to this motion. In 2013, Cunningham
alleges she discovered her husband was having an affair with
Bates and with another woman, Kelly Vaugh, a friend of Bates.
Cunningham complained publicly about Bates and sent an email
to several people stating that Vaugh was having an affair
with her husband. Vaugh filed a petition for a temporary
restraining order against Cunningham, which was denied. Then,
in November 2013, Bates started filing police reports
claiming Cunningham was stalking and assaulting her.
Cunningham did not know Bates was filing these reports, and
Cunningham was never interviewed by the Police Department or
the Sheriff's Office with respect to these reports or the
stalking charge that ultimately resulted.
began appearing at functions she knew Cunningham would be
attending and attempting to provoke Cunningham into a
confrontation, after which she would secretly file false
police reports claiming Cunningham had stalked and assaulted
her. This occurred on at least three occasions between
November 2013 and January 2014. On the last occasion, on or
about January 11, 2014, two Farmington police officers,
Defendants Duncan and/or Doe, were waiting for Cunningham
when she left the restaurant where Bates confronted her. They
pulled her over. Cunningham passed a field sobriety test but
refused to take a breathalyzer test because she had had
gastric bypass surgery and had been told this would cause a
high reading on a breathalyzer. She was arrested and charged
with driving while intoxicated. She posted bond for that
charge and for an aggravated stalking charge filed in January
bond on the stalking charge was revoked in May 2014. A
hearing was held on June 11, 2014, on Cunningham's motion
to reinstate her bond. Bates did not testify at that hearing.
Cunningham was denied bond on the grounds that Bates was
afraid Cunningham would stalk and assault her. Cunningham
pleaded guilty to aggravated stalking of Bates on August 16,
2014 because that was the only way to be released from jail
to see her children. While Cunningham was in jail, Bates
falsely claimed that Cunningham was telephoning her from
jail. Smith, who controlled jail phone records, falsely
reported these alleged calls to the prosecutor. Bates has a
friendly relationship with Smith. Cunningham also alleges, on
information and belief, that Smith has a friendly
relationship with Bullock, Duncan, and Baker, among others.
August 28, 2014, Cunningham went to the Elks Club near
Farmington with friends. When Cunningham left the Elks Club,
Duncan and/or Doe were waiting for her to exit the building.
Cunningham's friend, Eric McKorkle, had been drinking and
attempted to drive. Cunningham pushed him to prevent him from
driving. The officers arrested Cunningham, and she was
charged with misdemeanor assault and incarcerated from August
28, 2014, until September 25, 2014, when she obtained a bond.
During this period, her friend, Chuck Dyers, attempted to
assist her in obtaining a bond. Dyers received telephone
calls and text messages from a telephone number registered to
Smith. Smith told him it would be in his best interest to
have no contact with Cunningham.
probation was revoked on November 7, 2014, and the Court
sentenced her to 120 days in prison. Before her probation
revocation hearing, Cunningham spoke with Sheriff Bullock and
told him that the charges against her had been manufactured
by Bates, with the assistance of her friends in public
office, including Smith, and that she had not been calling
Bates from jail. Bullock did not take action or investigate
these matters. Smith initially denied to Bullock that he knew
Bates. Cunningham has obtained a photograph of Bates and
Smith together with a small group at a Thanksgiving Day
dinner in November 2013.
alleges Bates sought to discredit her and seek revenge
against her for revealing Bates's affair with
Cunningham's husband, so Bates persuaded her friends to
issue false charges against Cunningham, not investigate those
charges, deny her bond, hold her in jail indefinitely, coerce
her into pleading guilty to false aggravated stalking
charges, and revoke her probation to require her to spend
additional time in jail. Cunningham alleges Bates had a
friendly relationship with Smith, who had a friendly
relationship with Bullock, Duncan, and Baker, among others.
She alleges that Kennedy and Gray also acted in concert with
this group, had their own reasons for wanting revenge against
her, and interfered with her attempt to speak with the
prosecutor's office's victim's advocate about her
brings Counts I and II against Bates and the other individual
Defendants, arguing they denied her due process of law by
acting in concert, under color of state law, to recklessly
present false evidence to the prosecutor, fail to investigate
the facts, persuade the prosecutor to deny her bond, hold her
in jail indefinitely until she pled guilty, revoke her
probation, and selectively prosecute her on false charges.
Bates moves to dismiss Counts I and II only on the grounds
that Cunningham has ...