United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
HENRY HAMILTON, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
CITY OF HAYTI, MISSOURI, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on separate motions to dismiss
filed by each of the Defendants. Defendant City of Hayti,
Missouri ("Hayti") has filed a Motion to Dismiss
Counts II & III (ECF No. 9). In addition, Defendants
Calvin Ragland ("Ragland") and Glenda
Overbey("Overbey") filed Motions to
Dismiss all counts against them (ECF Nos. 11, 24). Defendant
Amy Leeann Inman ("Inman") filed a Motion to
Dismiss Count II of Plaintiff s Complaint (ECF No. 18).
Defendants Hayti and Ragland have also filed a Motion to Deny
Certification of Class Action Status to Plaintiff and Dismiss
Plaintiffs Class Claims (ECF No. 13). Finally, Plaintiff
Henry Hamilton has filed a Motion to Deny Defendant City of
Hayti's Motion to Dismiss as to Counts II and III or, in
the Alternative, to Stay Disposition (ECF No. 35).
Defendants' individual motions to dismiss are fully
briefed and ready for disposition. Plaintiff did not respond
to the motion to deny class certification and dismiss class
claims. Defendant Hayti filed a response to Plaintiffs motion
to stay; however, Plaintiff did not file a reply brief, and
the time for doing so has expired.
case stems from the alleged actions by Defendants of
unreasonably and unlawfully seizing, arresting, and
imprisoning Plaintiff, and denying bail by imposing an
excessive bond restriction. (Compl. pp. 1-2, ECF No. 1)
Plaintiff brings this cause of action on behalf of himself
and a putative class of individuals. (Id. at
¶¶ 8-9) Plaintiff contends that on July 28, 2011,
he went to the office of Cleveland Apartments in Hayti to
apply for public housing. (Id. at ¶ 17) After
completing and submitting his application, the apartment
manager, Defendant Inman, questioned Plaintiff and accused
him of falsifying the application. (Id. at ¶
18) Inman later filed a complaint in municipal court for
peace disturbance and assault, alleging that Plaintiff cursed
at her and threw a pen at her. (Compl. Ex. C, ECF No. 1-3) In
addition, Plaintiff contends Inman prepared a "Notice
Against Trespass" prohibiting him from entering the
premises of Cleveland Apartments. (Compl. ¶ 20)
According to Plaintiff, Hayti police officers detained and
arrested Plaintiff for a traffic violation because they did
not yet have an arrest warrant. (Id. at ¶ 24)
was subsequently transferred to the Pemiscot County Jail, as
set forth in a letter from Defendant Overbey, the Court
Administrator of the City of Hayti Municipal Court. (Compl.
Ex. D, ECF No. 1-4) A warrant for assault in the third degree
and peace disturbance was then issued on July 29, 2011,
requiring Plaintiff to post a cash bond in the amount of $1,
022.50 and appear before the court on August 4, 2011. (Compl.
Ex. B, ECF No. 1-2) Plaintiff contends that Defendant Judge
Ragland provided Overbey with a signature stamp and
authorized her to set bonds and issue warrants without his
review. (Compl. ¶ 28) Plaintiff further alleges that the
actions of Ragland and Overbey of setting excess bond and
holding Plaintiff in jail for 7 days were done solely to
punish Plaintiff and prevent him from being released on bond.
(Id. at ¶ 30)
addition, Plaintiff maintains that the bond schedule for
Hayti is discriminates against poor individuals.
(Id. at ¶ 31 A) Plaintiff contends that he was
unlawfully imprisoned for 7 days and that he was then
released by Ragland on Plaintiffs own recognizance.
(Id. at ¶ 32) Ultimately, the Hayti prosecutor
voluntarily dismissed the assault charge with prejudice, and
the court ruled in favor of Plaintiff on the peace
disturbance charge without imposition of any fine or period
of incarceration. (Id. at ¶ 33)
March 18, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against
Defendants, alleging a violation of Plaintiff s civil rights
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count I) for conspiring to
deprive Plaintiff of his rights under the Fourth, Eighth, and
Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
Plaintiff maintains that Defendants violated his right to be
free from unreasonable seizure, custodial arrest, and
imprisonment for the alleged ordinance violations; to be free
from prosecution not based on probable cause; to be released
from imprisonment; to have his case heard and adjudicated
before being compelled to plead guilty or prepay fines and
court costs under the guise of a cash only bond; and to
promptly be brought before a judge for an initial appearance
and released at the time of arrest. In addition, Plaintiff
alleges violations of the Missouri Constitution and Missouri
Statute (Count II) for the reasons contained in Count I of
the Complaint. Finally, Plaintiff brings a claim of civil
conspiracy (Count III) for acting jointly and agreeing to
prosecute Plaintiff, have him illegally arrested and
incarcerated, deny bond by setting the amount unreasonably
high, and refusing to release him on his own recognizance.
Plaintiff seeks to pursue his case as a class action. He also
seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as monetary
damages in excess of $1, 000, 000. The Defendants have filed
individual motions to dismiss in this cause of action.
regard to motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint
must be dismissed if it fails to plead "enough facts to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007) (abrogating the "no set of facts" standard
set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46
(1957)). While the Court cautioned that the holding does not
require a heightened fact pleading of specifics, "a
plaintiffs obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his
' entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do." Id. at 555. In
other words, "[f]actual allegations must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level. . .
." Id. This standard simply calls for enough
facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will
reveal evidence of the claim. Id. at 556.
must liberally construe the complaint in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff and accept the factual allegations
as true. See Id. at 555; see also Schaaf v.
Residential Funding Corp., 517 F.3d 544, 549 (8th Cir.
2008) (stating that in a motion to dismiss, courts accept as
true all factual allegations in the complaint); Eckert v.
Titan Tire Corp., 514 F.3d 801, 806 (8th Cir. 2008)
(explaining that courts should liberally construe the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff).
Further a court should not dismiss the complaint simply
because the court is doubtful that the plaintiff will be able
to prove all of the necessary factual allegations.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. However, "[w]here the
allegations show on the face of the complaint there is some
insuperable bar to relief, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is
appropriate." Benton v. Merrill Lynch &
Co., 524 F.3d 866, 870 (8th Cir. 2008) (citation
omitted). Courts '"are not bound to accept as true a
legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.'"
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). When considering a motion
to dismiss, a court can "begin by identifying pleadings
that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not
entitled to the assumption of truth." Id. at
679. Legal conclusions must be supported by factual
allegations to survive a motion to dismiss. Id.
Defendant Hayti's Motion to Dismiss Counts II
Hayti argues that Counts II and III should be dismissed
because they are barred by the doctrine of sovereign
immunity. "Under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.600, public
entities enjoy sovereign immunity . . . unless immunity is
waived, abrogated, or modified by statute."
Richardson v. City of St. Louis, 293 S.W.3d 133, 136
(Mo.Ct.App. 2009) (citation omitted). "A municipality
has sovereign immunity from actions at common law tort in all
but four cases." Bennartz v. City of Columbia,
300 S.W.3d 251, 259 (Mo.Ct.App. 2009). These four exceptions
(1) where a plaintiffs injury arises from a public
employee's negligent operation of a motor vehicle in the
course of his employment (section 537.600.1(1)); (2) where
the injury is caused by the dangerous condition of the
municipality's property (section 537.600.1(2)); (3) where
the injury is caused by the municipality performing a
proprietary function as opposed to a governmental function
(State ex rel Board of Trustees of the City of North
Kansas City Memorial Hospital, 843 S.W.2d 353, 358 (Mo.
banc 1993)); and (4) to the extent the municipality has
procured insurance, thereby waiving sovereign immunity up to
but not beyond the policy limit and only for acts covered by
the policy (section 537.610).
Id. at 259. "When bringing claims against a
public entity, a plaintiff 'bears the burden of pleading
with specificity facts giving rise to an exception to the
rule of sovereign immunity[.]'" Warm v. St.
Francois Cty., Missouri, No. 4:15CV895 CDP, 2016 WL
866089, at *7 (E.D. Mo. Mar. ...