United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
TRAVIS W. GIBSON, Plaintiff,
STATE OF MISSOURI, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Travis Gibson alleges that he entered an “Alford
plea” to a charge of felony indecent exposure in Tulsa
County, Oklahoma, but he says his judgment and sentence were
misstated on his paperwork, which resulted in various
problems when he later moved his probation to Missouri. The
series of events that followed gave rise to plaintiff's
filing a petition for relief in Stoddard County, Missouri
against the State of Missouri, the Missouri Department of
Corrections (“MDOC”), the Missouri Highway
Patrol, Roxanne Cook, JoAnn Snider (collectively, the
“Missouri defendants”) and Rick
Cook. The defendants removed the case to this
Court, citing this Court's federal question jurisdiction
under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 in light of plaintiff's
claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The defendants have filed
motions to dismiss (#7, #11). Plaintiff has filed a Response
to Notice of Removal (#9), which this Court will construe as
a motion to remand.
to the complaint, plaintiff entered an Alford plea on May 22,
2000 to a charge to felony indecent exposure in Oklahoma and
was given a five-year suspended sentence and placed on
probation. Although the plea was entered to the charge of
indecent exposure pursuant to Oklahoma Statutes, Title 21,
§ 1021-A1, he says the judgment and sentence erroneously
cited Title 21, § 1021-B1, which is for the offense of
solicitation or aid of a minor to perform a sex offense
against a minor child. The latter offense, under §
1021-B1, required registry as a sex offender in Missouri,
which plaintiff says he discovered when he moved to Missouri.
received an initial visit from Missouri probation officers
Joann Snider and Roxanne Cook at his home sometime in 2001.
He says that they informed him that he would need to
cooperate with a mandatory sex offender program; plaintiff
told them they had the wrong information about the crime for
which he was sentenced. Plaintiff alleges that Snider and
Cook told him he would have to leave the state if he refused
states he did not hear any more about the matter until 2007.
Sometime during 2007 or 2008, he says he was charged with
felony failure to register as a sex offender, and he was
sentenced to probation. Plaintiff says his wife divorced him
as a result of learning about the allegedly untrue charges.
Plaintiff alleges he was assigned to supervision by defendant
Roxanne Cook, who was the “sex offender officer.”
(#4 at 2.) Plaintiff informed defendant Roxanne Cook that he
was not going to cooperate with her conditions, which
included having only supervised visits with his children.
Plaintiff alleges that the officer then called her husband,
defendant Rick Cook, who was then a Dexter, Missouri police
officer. Plaintiff says his probation was revoked and he was
incarcerated from 2008 until 2010.
his release from prison, plaintiff was informed that he
needed to register as a sex offender with the Stoddard County
Sheriff. Plaintiff complained to the county prosecutor. It
does not appear that he registered or that he was charged
with not registering.
remainder of plaintiff's complaint is repetitive and
difficult to follow. He decries the ignorance of the
defendants and the judicial system and alleges that
“this entire thing has played out publicly and
privately, [T]opix, airport café, and even Rick Cook
driving up and down my road telling my neighbors and
spreading it around town.” (#4 at 3.) He states that
his Oklahoma record was corrected to reflect the correct
charges on May 23, 2002, but the judge there also ordered sex
offender registration for that crime. He suggests that the
Missouri Highway Patrol, the State of Missouri, and MDOC
erroneously reported to the public that he was a sex
offender. He suggests that his then-wife's ex-husband was
upset that she was with plaintiff, ran plaintiff's name
through law enforcement databases with help from family in
law enforcement, and that resulted in the events going
forward from 2007. He states he was improperly charged with
failure to register as a sex offender by Stoddard County
based on an erroneous and withdrawn Oklahoma document, that
MDOC and Stoddard County wrongly pursued the charges, and
that the charges were without probable cause, malicious, and
resulted in defamation of character. He claims he was
unjustly incarcerated from 2008-2010 and that he lost his job
with Dutch Enterprises. He seeks, among other things, $1
million per year from each defendant from 2001 to the
motions are now before the Court. Plaintiff seeks remand back
to state court (#9). Defendant Rick Cook and the Missouri
defendants filed separate motions to dismiss on November 4
and 16, 2016 (#7, #11). Plaintiff also filed what appears to
be an amended complaint on December 12, 2016 (#20). The Court
discusses each below.
Motion to Remand (#9)
removed this case under this Court's federal question
jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, because the complaint
sets forth a civil action arising under the laws of the
United States. Plaintiff argues that his case should be
decided by the state courts. However, plaintiff titled his
petition with “1983 Petition” and confirms in his
motion that this action was filed “under U.S. Code
42-1983.” Although plaintiff appears to believe that
his related state-law claims mean that his case should be
entertained by the state court, plaintiff is incorrect.
“Federal district courts have original jurisdiction
over section 1983 claims, notwithstanding the fact that they
share such jurisdiction with the courts of the states in
which they sit.” Williams v. Ragnone, 147 F.3d
700, 702 (8th Cir. 1998). Thus, this Court has original
jurisdiction over plaintiff's § 1983 claims under 28
U.S.C. §1331 and supplemental jurisdiction over any
state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) because they
are so related to the federal questions claims that they form
part of the same case or controversy. “The presence of
even one federal claim gives the defendant the right to
remove the entire case to federal court.”
Williams, 147 F.3d at 703 (quoting Gaming Corp.
of Am. v. Dorsey & Whitney, 88 F.3d 536, 543 (8th
Cir.1996)). The motion to remand will be denied.
Motions to Dismiss (#7, #11)
have moved to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). The purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss
for failure to state a claim is to test the legal sufficiency
of a complaint so as to eliminate those actions “which
are fatally flawed in their legal premises and deigned to
fail, thereby sparing litigants the burden of unnecessary
pretrial and trial activity.” Young v. City of St.
Charles, 244 F.3d 623, 627 (8th Cir. 2001) (citing
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326-27 (1989)).
“To survive a motion to dismiss, a claim must be
facially plausible, meaning that the ‘factual content.
. . allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.'” Cole v. Homier Dist. Co., Inc.,
599 F.3d 856, 861 (8th Cir. 2010) (quoting Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). The Court must
“accept the allegations contained in the complaint as
true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
nonmoving party.” Id. (quoting Coons v.
Mineta, 410 F.3d 1036, 1039 (8th Cir. 2005)). However,
“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, ” will
not pass muster. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Defendant Rick Cook's ...