United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER OF DISMISSAL
PATRICIA L. COHEN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
City of St. Louis ("City") and D. Samuel Dotson,
III ("Dotson") move to dismiss Plaintiff's
claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
[ECF No. 10] as follows: (1) all claims pursued against
Dotson in his official capacity on the grounds they are
duplicative of the claims against City, and (2) the Title VII
claim against Dotson in his individual capacity. Defendants
also seek an award of "reasonable costs and
attorneys' fees." In response, David Bonenberger
("Plaintiff") asserts that, even if the claims
against Dotson in his official capacity are duplicative, the
court is not required to dismiss duplicative claims.
Plaintiff concedes that the court should dismiss his Title
VII claim against Defendant Dotson sued in his individual
capacity. Plaintiff does not address Defendants' request
for an award of reasonable costs and attorneys' fees.
claims in this case arise out of Plaintiff's employment
as a police officer for Defendant City. Plaintiff filed this
action seeking monetary relief from City and Dotson for their
alleged retaliation against Plaintiff and violation of
Plaintiff's First Amendment rights after Plaintiff
successfully sued the St. Louis Metropolitan Police
Department ("SLMPD") and others for employment
discrimination. See Bonenberger v. St. Louis Metro.
Police Dep't, Case No. 4:12cv00021 CDP) (E.D. Mo.
filed Jan. 5, 2012), aff'd, No. 14-3696, slip
op. (8th Cir. Jan. 19, 2016).
pending lawsuit, Plaintiff pursues the following against City
and Dotson: (1) a retaliation claim under Title VII, 42
U.S.C. § 2000(e), et seq., and the Missouri
Human Rights Act, Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.010 et
seq. (Count I); (2) a First Amendment claim under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 (Count II); and (3) a retaliation claim
under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Count III). The parties do not
dispute that City is Plaintiff's employer and that, as
the Chief of the SLMPD, Dotson exercises supervisory
authority over the SLMPD. Plaintiff sues Dotson in both his
individual and his official capacities as to all claims.
resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must regard as
true the facts alleged in the complaint and determine whether
they are sufficient to raise more than a speculative right to
relief. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555-56 (2007); accord Hager v. Arkansas Dep't of
Health, 735 F.3d 1009, 1013 (8th Cir. 2013) (under Rule
12(b)(6), "the factual allegations in the complaint are
accepted as true and viewed most favorably to the
plaintiff"). The court does not, however, accept as true
any allegation that is a legal conclusion. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); accord Hager,
735 F.3d at 1013 ("[c]ourts must not presume the truth
of legal conclusions couched as factual allegations.
Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986).").
complaint must set forth "enough facts to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face."
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; accord Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678; Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588
F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009). "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."
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. "[T]he complaint should
be read as a whole, not parsed piece by piece to determine
whether each allegation, in isolation, is plausible."
Braden, 588 F.3d at 594. "The plausibility
standard requires a plaintiff to show at the pleading stage
that success on the merits is more than a 'sheer
possibility.'" Id. (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted). If the claims are only
conceivable, not plausible, the court must dismiss the
complaint under Rule 12(b)(6). Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570; accord Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
of Official Capacity Claims against Dotson
move to dismiss all claims pursued against Dotson in his
official capacity on the grounds they are duplicative of the
claims against City. Plaintiff argues that, while the court
may dismiss duplicative claims, the court is not required to
suit against a government officer in his official capacity is
functionally equivalent to a suit against the employing
governmental entity." Veatch v. Bartels Lutheran
Home, 627 F.3d 1254, 1257 (8th Cir. 2010)
(action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983). It is proper for a
court to dismiss, as duplicative or redundant, claims against
an official sued in his official capacity that are also
asserted against the official's governmental employer.
Id.; Artis v. Francis Howell North Band Booster
Ass'n, Inc., 161 F.3d 1178, 1182, 1185
(8th Cir. 1998) (finding the district court
correctly dismissed a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against a school official sued only in his official capacity,
as redundant of a claim against the school district employing
the official); Bergfeld v. Board of Election Comm'rs
for City of St. Louis, No. 4:06cv1025 DDN, 2007 WL
5110310, at *3 (E.D. Mo. Apr. 5, 2007) (dismissing Title VII
and Missouri Human Rights Act claims against individuals sued
in their official capacity as duplicative of the same claims
pursued against the Board of Election Commissioners);
Green v. City of St. Louis, No. 4:05cv00198 JCH,
2006 WL 1663439, at *10 (E.D. Mo. June 15, 2006) (dismissing
the plaintiff's claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981
and 1983 against individuals sued in their official capacity
upon finding they were duplicative of the same claims the
plaintiff pursued against the plaintiff's employer, the
City of St. Louis, and another entity, the St. Louis
Development Corporation), aff'd on other
grounds, 507 F.3d 662 (8th Cir. 2007);
Coller v. State of Mo. Dep't of Econ. Dev., 965
F.Supp. 1270, 1274-75 (W.D. Mo. 1997) (Title VII claim
against individual sued in his official capacity dismissed as
duplicative of the same claim pursued against the
plaintiff's employer). Plaintiff's official capacity
claims against Dotson are duplicative of the claims against
City. Accordingly, those portions of Plaintiff's claims
that allege liability in Dotson's official capacity
should be dismissed.
of Title VII Claim against Dotson in his Individual
move to dismiss the Title VII claim against Dotson in his
individual capacity. Plaintiff concedes that dismissal is
Eighth Circuit has long held that a supervisory official sued
in the official's individual capacity cannot be liable
under Title VII. See Roark v. City of Hazen, Ark.,
189 F.3d 758, 761 (8thCir. 1999) (finding
"[t]he district court properly dismissed [the plaintiff
police officer's Title VII] claim against the [city
mayor] in his individual capacity because a supervisor may
not be held liable under Title VII"); Bonomolo-Hagen
v. Clay Central-Everly Cmty. Sch. Dist., 121 F.3d 446
(8th Cir. 1997) (per curiam) ("[o]ur Court
quite recently has squarely held that supervisors may not be
held individually liable under Title VII. See Spencer v.