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Federhofer v. Jones

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

July 14, 2017

MICHAEL FEDERHOFER, Plaintiff,
v.
JUSTIN JONES, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          AUDREY G. FLEISSIG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, a prisoner, seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this civil action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Having reviewed plaintiff's financial information, the Court assesses a partial initial filing fee of $28.50, which is twenty percent of his average monthly deposit. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b). Additionally, the Court will require plaintiff to submit an amended complaint.

         Standard of Review

          Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court is required to dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To state a claim for relief, a complaint must plead more than “legal conclusions” and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere conclusory statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, which is more than a “mere possibility of misconduct.” Id. at 679. “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.” Id. at 678. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679.

         When reviewing a complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court accepts the well-pled facts as true. Furthermore, the Court liberally construes the allegations.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that defendants Justin Jones and Keith Coleman, who are or were police officers for St. Louis County, unjustifiably assaulted him and shot him with a Taser gun. He suffered several injuries as a result, and he was transported to St. Anthony's Medical Center's emergency room by ambulance.

         Plaintiff seeks to hold St. Louis County's General Counsel liable under the theory of respondeat superior. He also wishes to sue the St. Louis County Police Department.

         Discussion

         The complaint adequately alleges a claim under the Fourth Amendment for unreasonable search or seizure against Jones and Coleman. However, plaintiff has not alleged when the alleged assault occurred. Therefore, it would be difficult for defendants to answer the complaint. Plaintiff must file an amended complaint, in accordance with the Court's instructions, that better describes the incident.

         The complaint is frivolous against the St. Louis County Police Department because municipal departments cannot be held liable under § 1983. Ketchum v. City of West Memphis, Ark., 974 F.2d 81, 82 (1992).

         “Liability under § 1983 requires a causal link to, and direct responsibility for, the alleged deprivation of rights.” Madewell v. Roberts, 909 F.2d 1203, 1208 (8th Cir. 1990). To be cognizable under § 1983, a claim must allege that the defendant was personally involved in or directly responsible for the incidents that deprived the plaintiff of his constitutional rights. Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1338 (8th Cir. 1985). Claims sounding in respondeat superior are not cognizable under § 1983. Boyd v. Knox, 47 F.3d 966, 968 (8th Cir. 1995). Consequently, plaintiff's allegations against St. Louis County's General Counsel are frivolous.

         Plaintiff must file an amended complaint in accordance with the following instructions. He is warned that the filing of an amended complaint replaces the original complaint, and so he must include each and every one of his claims in the amended complaint. E.g., In re Wireless Telephone Federal Cost Recovery Fees Litigation, 396 F.3d 922, 928 (8th Cir. 2005). Any claims from the original complaint that are not included in the amended complaint will be considered abandoned. Id. He must allege how each and every defendant is directly responsible for the alleged harm. And he must specify, to the best of his knowledge, the date on which the incident occurred. In order to sue defendants in their individual capacities, he must specifically say so in the complaint. If he fails to sue defendants in their individual capacities, this action may be subject to dismissal.

         Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma ...


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