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Daniel v. Darter

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

September 27, 2017

NICK DARTER, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff, Kevin Dewayne Daniel, (registration no. 016968), an inmate at Dunklin County Jail, for leave to commence this action without payment of the required filing fee. For the reasons stated below, the Court finds that plaintiff does not have sufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee and will assess an initial partial filing fee of $1.00.[1] See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Furthermore, based upon a review of the complaint, the Court will stay and administratively close this action pursuant to the Supreme Court case of Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384 (2007), based on the pendency of an underlying criminal case against plaintiff that arises out of the same facts.


         Plaintiff, a pretrial detainee in Dunklin County Jail, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 asserting violations of his Fourth and 14th Amendment rights. Plaintiff has named two individuals as defendants in this action: Nick Darter, a Sergeant with the Maiden Missouri Police Department and Jeff McCormick, the Prosecuting Attorney in his state criminal action.

         Prior to this case being filed, a related underlying criminal case was filed against plaintiff in Missouri State Court. See State v. Daniel, Case No.l7DU-CR00948-01 (35th Judicial Circuit, Dunklin County Court). On July 9, 2017, defendant Nick Darter filed a probable cause statement in Dunklin County Court. He stated that on the prior day, he conducted a traffic stop on plaintiffs Buick for driving "left of center."

         Defendant Darter alleged in his statement that when he conducted a stop on plaintiff and asked for his license, plaintiff told him he did not have a license and when plaintiff stepped out of the vehicle at defendant's request, plaintiff admitted to having a small bag of marijuana. Defendant Darter indicated that plaintiff had a small plastic bag in his wallet with "crystal-like residue" that tested positive for methamphetamine. Defendant Darter claimed that plaintiff had three $100.00 counterfeit bills. After plaintiff was taken into custody and transferred to the Maiden County Jail booking process, plaintiff allegedly "closed his legs together real fast" and defendant Darter purportedly heard something that sounded like glass fall from plaintiffs pants. Defendant Darter alleged in his probable cause statement that a glass pipe fell from plaintiffs pants to the ground, whereupon plaintiff stepped on the pipe and attempted to destroy evidence.

         Plaintiff has been charged with felony possession of a controlled substance and tampering with physical evidence in a felony prosecution. See State v. Daniel, Case No.l7DU-CR00948-01 (35th Judicial Circuit, Dunklin County Court).

         Plaintiffs alleges in his complaint that on July 8, 2017, he was leaving a friend's house when he noticed a police car tailing him. He claims he turned into the gas station to get gas, and the police turned on their lights and pulled behind him. Plaintiff claims that he does not believe that he had broken any traffic laws when he was pulled over by defendant Darter.

         When defendant Darter asked him for his identification, plaintiff states he told Sergeant Darter he only had his ID card on him at the time and asked permission to get it from his wallet. Plaintiff states that rather than give him permission to do so, defendant Darter told plaintiff to get out of the car and put his hands on the top of the vehicle. Plaintiff insists that he did not give defendant Darter permission to search either himself or his car or his wallet; however, defendant Darter took it upon himself to search all three, telling plaintiff he "knew why he was being pulled over." Plaintiff surmised that defendant Darter was referring to his race, which is African American. Plaintiff alleges that defendant Darter planted a clear bag of something containing crystal-like residue in plaintiffs wallet and then arrested plaintiff for purportedly carrying drugs.

         Plaintiff states he was taken to the Maiden Police Department for booking, where defendant Darter conducted a pat search. After the search, plaintiff states that he noticed a glass vial on the floor next to him. He claims he accidentally stepped on the vial. Plaintiff alleges that after he stepped on the glass, defendant Darter pushed him to the side, looked down and took pictures of the broken vial and told plaintiff he was charging him with contraband at a jail facility.

         Plaintiff asserts violations of his rights, pursuant to the 4th Amendment of the Constitution.[2] Plaintiff also asserts violations of his Equal Protection rights in violation of the 14 Amendment. Plaintiff additionally asserts violations of his substantive due process rights in violation of the 14th Amendment. Further, plaintiff asserts violations of Missouri state law, including claims of false arrest, malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

         The Complaint

         In this case, plaintiff asserts claims for false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution as a result of an alleged false arrest that occurred on July 8, 2017. He brings this action against the police officer and the prosecutor pursuing the state criminal case against him.

         In Wallace v. Kato, the United States Supreme Court held that "the statute of limitations upon a § 1983 claim seeking damages for a false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment, where the arrest is followed by criminal proceedings, begins to run at the time the claimant is detained pursuant to legal process." Wallace, 549 U.S. at 397. The Court observed that "[f]alse arrest and false imprisonment overlap; the former is a species of the latter." Id. at 388. The Court instructed that where "a plaintiff files a false arrest claim before he has been convicted ... it is within the power of the district court, and in accord with common practice, to stay the civil action until the criminal case or the likelihood of a criminal case is ended." Id. at 393-94. Otherwise, the court and the parties are left to "speculate about whether a prosecution will be brought, whether it will result in conviction, and ...

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