United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division
B.A., as Parent and next friend of JANE DOE, a minor, Plaintiff,
2nd JUDICIAL CIRCUIT OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CATHERINE D. PERRY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
B.A., as parent and next friend of minor Jane Doe, brings
this suit for damages arising from the alleged rape and
sexual assault of Jane Doe by defendant Christopher Wright,
which allegedly occurred while Doe was at a state-run
residential treatment center where Wright worked as a
counselor. In addition to Wright, the fifteen-count amended
complaint seeks relief against the Second Judicial Circuit,
which ran the treatment center, and five other employees at
the facility. The claims are brought under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, state tort law, and state statutes, including the
Missouri Human Rights Act.
defendants other than Christopher Wright answered the amended
complaint. Wright moves to dismiss the eight counts brought
against him for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction under
Rule 12(b)(1), Fed.R.Civ.P. Wright, who is no longer employed
by the State, argues that the amended complaint only asserts
claims against him in his official capacity and that these
claims are barred or limited by the Eleventh Amendment, or
should be dismissed as redundant.
amended complaint alleges that all the individual defendants
acted both individually and within the scope of their
employment. Because this is a sufficient allegation to show
that plaintiff is suing Wright in both his individual and
official capacities, I will grant the motion only to the
extent it seeks to dismiss the official-capacity claims
against Wright, and will deny it as to all the claims brought
against him in his individual capacity.
purpose of a Rule 12(b)(1) motion is to allow the court to
address the threshold question of jurisdiction, as
“judicial economy demands that the issue be decided at
the outset rather than deferring it until trial.”
Osborn v. United States, 918 F.2d 724, 729 (8th Cir.
1990). The “Eleventh Amendment presents a
jurisdictional limit on federal courts in civil rights cases
against states and their employees.” Nix v.
Norman, 879 F.2d 429, 431 (8th Cir. 1989); see
Murphy v. State of Ark., 127 F.3d 750, 755 (8th Cir.
as here, the motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction raises a facial challenge to jurisdiction under
Rule 12(b)(1), the court applies the same standards as those
for a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). See Titus v.
Sullivan, 4 F.3d 590, 593 & n. 1 (8th Cir. 1993);
Osborn v. U.S., 918 F.2d 724, 729 n. 6 (8th Cir.
1990). When considering a 12(b)(6) motion, the court assumes
the factual allegations of a complaint are true and construes
them in favor of the plaintiff. Neitzke v. Williams,
490 U.S. 319, 326-27 (1989). To survive a motion to dismiss,
a complaint must contain enough factual allegations, accepted
as true, to state a claim for relief “that is plausible
on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
brings eight counts against Wright in the amended complaint.
Count I is brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation
of Doe's Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection.
Counts IX, X, XI, XIII, and XIV are tort claims for
negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress,
assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional
distress, and false imprisonment. Count XII is brought under
a Missouri state statute for sexual abuse of a minor.
Finally, Count XV is brought under the Missouri Human Rights
Act (MHRA), Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.010 et seq.,
for sexual harassment in places of public accommodation.
Plaintiff's amended complaint states that at all times
relevant to the counts alleged, Wright was employed by
defendant Second Judicial Circuit, a state entity.
reads the amended complaint as only seeking liability against
him in his official capacity. Plaintiff responds that all
eight counts are brought against Wright in both his
individual and official capacities. Plaintiff points to a
paragraph of the amended complaint, which is incorporated
into all counts of the complaint and states that Wright acted
“both individually and within the scope of his
employment.” ECF No. 19 at ¶ 13. Construing the
amended complaint in favor of the plaintiff, as I must on a
motion to dismiss, I conclude that the counts brought against
Wright are brought in both his individual and official
capacities. Wright is not entitled to dismissal of the
the complaint also alleges that Wright acted in his official
capacity, I will consider the motion to dismiss as to those
claims. The Eleventh Amendment bars suits against
non-consenting states by their own citizens, citizens of
other states, citizens of foreign states, or foreign nations.
U.S. Const. Amend. XI; Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp.
v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 97-98 (1984). This bar
extends to suits against state officials when the state is
the real party in interest. Id. at 101. In an
official capacity suit, the state is considered the real
party in interest if the decision would operate against the
state treasury, interfere with public administration, or
restrain the state from acting. Coller v. State of Mo.,
Dep't of Econ. Dev., 965 F.Supp. 1270, 1276 (W.D.
Mo. 1997) (citing Pennhurst, 465 U.S. at 101). There
is an exception to the Eleventh Amendment immunity bar when
the suit alleges unconstitutional acts by the state official
in violation of federal law. Pennhurst, 465 U.S. at
101-02 (citing Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908)).
In such a case, the court could award injunctive relief
against the official, but not monetary damages. Id.
however, is no longer employed by the state of Missouri. ECF
No. 34-1. The court cannot grant injunctive relief concerning
an official's future conduct when he is no longer
employed by the state. Coller, 965 F.Supp. at 1276.
Count I will be dismissed against Wright in his official
other counts brought against Wright in his official capacity
are also brought against his previous employer, Second
Judicial Circuit. Because “a suit against a supervisor
in his or her official capacity is treated as a suit against
the employer itself, ” these counts will be dismissed
against Wright in his official capacity as duplicative or
redundant. See Veatch v. Bartels Lutheran Home, 627
F.3d 1254, 1257 (8th Cir. 2010); Bonenberger v. City of
St. Louis, No. 4:16CV788 PLC, 2016 WL 5341113, at * 2
(E.D. Mo. September 23, 2016); Coller, 965 F.Supp.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant Christopher Wright's
Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 28] is granted in part and denied
in part. Counts I, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, and XV are
dismissed against Christopher Wright in his official capacity