United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
JEFFREY D. REUTER, Plaintiff,
JOHN BORBONUS, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case comes before the Court on plaintiff's motions to
amend judgment which denied plaintiff's amended complaint
(#24) and to amend judgment which granted defendants'
motion to dismiss (#26). The defendants did not respond and
the time to do so has passed. Nonetheless, the issues are
briefed and ripe for disposition.
proceeding pro se, filed this complaint against the
defendants on December 21, 2016, and alleged that defendant
Judge John Borbonus issued an unlawful arrest warrant that
led plaintiff's arrest by officers of defendant St. Louis
County and that the violations of plaintiff's rights were
not properly investigated by defendant state of Missouri. On
February 17, 2017, all three defendants separately moved to
dismiss plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiff did not
respond to any of the motions. On March 3, 2017, this Court
granted the defendants' motions to dismiss (#20).
the judgment entered in accordance with the Court's
memorandum and order was not filed until three days later on
March 6, 2017 (#21). On the same day, plaintiff moved to file
an amended complaint (#22). Because of the peculiar
situation, this Court addressed the merits of the
plaintiff's proposed amended complaint. The Court found
plaintiff's amended complaint contained the same flaws as
his initial complaint and thus failed to state a claim upon
which relief could be granted. The Court denied
plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint.
plaintiff moves this Court to reconsider or amend its order
denying the filing of plaintiff's amended complaint.
Plaintiff contends that he had a right to amend his complaint
as a matter of course and did so within the 21-day window
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1)(B) and that
this Court erred in denying the plaintiff's amendment.
Additionally, plaintiff moves this Court to reconsider or
amend the Court's order granting defendants' motions
to dismiss. Plaintiff claims that this Court erred in its
interpretation of the law and that his claim was only
dismissed based upon improper technical form.
Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1)(B) allows a party, as a
matter of course, to amend its pleading, if the pleading is
one to which a responsive pleading is required, within 21
days after service of a motion under Rule 12(b). If Rule
15(a)(1) does not apply, then a party may only amend its
pleading when the opposing party consents or the court grants
leave to do so. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 15(a)(2). However, in the
Eighth Circuit, even if a party has a right to amend its
pleading as a matter of course within the 21-day window,
“after a court dismisses a complaint, a party's
right to amend under Rule 15 terminates.”
Geier v. Missouri Ethics Com'n, 715 F.3d 674,
677 (8th Cir. 2013) (emphasis added). Instead, the party may
file a motion for leave to amend its complaint, similarly to
Rule 15(a)(2). Id.
amendments to a party's pleadings should be liberally
granted, but “different considerations apply to motions
filed after dismissal.” Id. quoting Dorn
v. State Bank of Stella, 767 F.2d 442, 443 (8th Cir.
1985) (per curiam). In fact, granting a motion for leave to
amend following dismissal is inappropriate if the district
court indicated “that dismissal of the complaint also
constitute[d] dismissal of the action.” Id.
quoting Czeremcha v. Int'l Ass'n of Machinists
& Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO, 724 F.2d 1552, 1556
n.6 (11th Cir. 1984). Even if the dismissal of the complaint
did not constitute a dismissal of the entire action, a
district court may deny leave to amend a complaint if the
amendment would be futile. Id. at 688.
Reconsideration or Amendment of Previous Orders
defendants filed their motions to dismiss on February 17,
2017. The filing of these motions triggered the start of the
21-day window whereby plaintiff could have amended his
pleadings as a matter of course, providing plaintiff until
March 10, 2017 to do so. However, this Court, after receiving
nothing from plaintiff regarding the motions, granted the
defendants' motions on March 3rd and dismissed the
plaintiff's action. Plaintiff's right to amend as a
matter of course terminated upon entry of this Court's
order and judgment. Both the order and judgment (#20, #21)
were filed before plaintiff filed his motion to file an
amended complaint (#22).
plaintiff's proposed amendments to his complaint were
futile. The court addressed the merits of plaintiff's
proposed amended complaint in its order denying
plaintiff's motion to file his amended complaint (#23).
The plaintiff added some specificity to his proposed amended
complaint, however, the amended complaint still failed on its
merits. As more fully discussed in that order, defendant
Judge Borbonus is absolutely immune from suit under the facts
of this case. Further, defendant St. Louis county cannot be
held liable under a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim under a
respondeat superior theory under the facts of this
case. If granted leave to amend, the amended complaint would
still be subject to 12(b)(6) dismissal, just as the initial
complaint was. District courts need not “indulge in
futile gestures.” Holloway v. Dobbs, 715 F.2d
390, 392-93 (8th Cir. 1983) (per curiam).
dismissal of plaintiff's complaint and subsequent denial
of leave to file an amended complaint were not based upon
improper technical form, as alleged by the plaintiff.
Instead, the Court granted dismissal and denied leave to
amend because plaintiff's complaint and proposed amended
complaint both failed to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted. This Court has already addressed the merits of
plaintiff's claims in previous orders (#20, #23) and will
not rehash them further here. Even though plaintiff proceeds
pro se, the Court will not “supply additional
facts, nor will [it] construct a legal theory for plaintiff
that assumes facts that have not been pleaded.”
Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004)
(internal citation omitted). A pro se litigant must
still allege a claim in a manner which, with the assumption
that the pleaded facts are true, “states a claim as a
matter of law.” Cunningham v. Ray, 648 F.2d
1185, 1186 (8th Cir. 1981). Here, the plaintiff failed to
allege such a claim in either complaint.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to amend
judgment which denied plaintiff's amended complaint (#24)
and plaintiff's motion to amend judgment which ...