United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
C. COLLINS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Joint Motion
for More Definite Statement and Dismissal (Doc. 8). The
Motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition. The
parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned
United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(c) (Doc. 7). For the following reasons, Defendants'
Motion is GRANTED, in part.
5, 2017, Plaintiff M.A.B. filed this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 and Missouri state law against Defendants
in St. Louis County Circuit Court (Doc. 2). On August 9,
2017, Defendants the City of Maryland Heights, Missouri
(“Maryland Heights”), Michele Mason
(“Mason”), and Gregory Johnston
(“Johnston”) removed the case to the United
States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
(Doc. 1). Mason, a Maryland Heights police officer, and
Johnston, also a Maryland Heights police officer,
(collectively the “Officer Defendants”) are sued
in their individual capacities only. Plaintiff makes claims
against the Officer Defendants pursuant to section 1983 for
violations of Plaintiff's Substantive Due Process (Counts
I, III) and for an Unreasonable Search (Counts II, IV), as
well as violations of Missouri's Strip Search Law,
Missouri Revised Statute § 544.195 (Counts VI, VII).
Plaintiff also raises a section 1983 failure to train claim
against Defendant Maryland Heights (Doc. 2).
facts relevant to the current Motion, viewed in the light
most favorable to Plaintiff, are as follows. On April 26,
2016, at approximately 10:22 a.m. Plaintiff, a 32-year old
female, was driving in her own vehicle southbound along North
Lindberg Boulevard north of Adie Road in the City of Maryland
Heights, Missouri (Id. at ¶¶10-11).
Defendant Officer Johnston pulled over Plaintiff after his
LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) unit indicated that
Plaintiff's speed was 55 mph, a speed in excess of the
posted limit of 40 mph (Id. at ¶¶15-27).
months prior to the traffic stop, Plaintiff loaned her
vehicle to her cousin, Patricia Ann Scaife
(“Scaife”) (Id. at ¶28).
Unbeknownst to Plaintiff, during the loan period, Scaife
received a traffic ticket in the City of Kirkwood, Missouri
(Id. at ¶¶29, 32). Scaife did not appear
in court for the ticket and a warrant was issued for her
arrest (Id. at ¶30). In connection with the
warrant issued for Scaife's arrest, Plaintiff's
license plate was tagged (Id. at ¶33).
Defendant Officer Johnston's request, Plaintiff provided
him with her driver's license and indicated that her
insurance was in electronic format on the GEICO app on her
smartphone (Id. at ¶¶38-41). Defendant
Officer Johnston then asked Plaintiff to get out of the car
and asked if Plaintiff knew why he was asking her to get out
of the car (Id. at ¶¶42-43). Plaintiff
said she did not know and Defendant Officer Johnston said,
“You are acting nervous” (Id. at
¶¶44-45). Defendant Officer Johnston asked for, and
Plaintiff consented to, a search of her car (Id. at
¶¶56). Defendant Officer Johnston searched the
vehicle and did not find any weapons or contraband
(Id. at ¶57).
point during the traffic stop, Defendant Officer Johnston
called on his radio for Defendant Officer Mason, the only
female officer on duty, to come to the scene to search
Plaintiff (Id. at ¶¶58, 59). After
arriving on the scene, Defendant Officer Mason conducted a
pat down search of Plaintiff (Id. at ¶63).
Defendant Officer Mason then conducted a body cavity search
on Plaintiff (Id. at ¶¶64-77). Plaintiff
did not consent to the body cavity search (Id. at
¶78). Defendant Officer Johnston issued a ticket to
Plaintiff for speeding (Id. at ¶¶99-108).
The municipal prosecutor for Maryland Heights amended the
charge to correct an error on the ticket and, subsequently,
entered a nolle prosequi on the citation
(Id. at ¶¶103-104, 110). Plaintiff further
alleges, citing to the deposition of Defendant Officer
Johnston,  that Maryland Heights does not have a
policy or train officers on permissible searches or, more
specifically, how to address a situation when a license plate
on a vehicle is tagged for a warrant but the individual then
currently driving the vehicle is not the person with the
warrant (Id. at ¶¶112-115, ¶¶
note, Plaintiff makes argument and cites to various sources
of law in footnotes throughout her Petition. Defendants now
move for a more definite statement and dismissal of
Plaintiff's Petition (Doc. 8).
their Motion, Defendants request that the Court dismiss
Plaintiff's Petition for failure to comply with Federal
Rule 8(a)(2) or, in the alternative, Defendants request a
more definite statement pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(e) (Doc. 8 at 1). Specifically, Defendants
assert that many of the allegations in Plaintiff's
Petition are conclusory generalizations and irrelevant
assertions such that Plaintiff has failed to apprise the
Defendants of the particular claims against them
(Id. at 2). Defendants also move to strike the
twenty-seven footnotes contained in Plaintiff's Petition,
correctly noting that one such footnote cites to the
deposition transcript not before this Court (Doc. 9 at 3).
Defendants further move to dismiss Plaintiff's claims
against Maryland Heights pursuant of Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) (Doc. 8 at 1).
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires “a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(e), “[a] party may move for a more
definite statement of a pleading to which a responsive
pleading is allowed but which is so vague or ambiguous that
the party cannot reasonably prepare a response.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). “Rule 12(e) is not designed to
remedy an alleged lack of detail, rather, the Rule is
intended to serve as a means to remedy unintelligible
pleadings.” Resolution Trust Corp. v. Fiala,
870 F.Supp. 962, 977 (E.D. Mo. 1994). However, when a
“‘pleading fails to specify the allegations in a
manner that provides sufficient notice, a defendant can move
for a more definite [statement] under Rule 12(e) before
responding.'” Whitehead v. City of St.
Louis, No. 4:09CV483 CDP, 2009 WL 4430699, at *1 (E.D.
Mo. Nov. 24, 2009) (quoting Swierkiewicz v. Sorema
N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002)).
instant case, the Court finds that while dismissal is not
warranted, it will direct Plaintiff to file an Amended
Complaint. On review of the entire Petition, the Court finds
judicial efficiency would best be served by allowing
Plaintiff to remedy any potential non-compliance with the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Indeed, Plaintiff concedes
that her Petition was not filed in federal court and
therefore did not have to comply with the federal rules
(See Doc. 10). Also, although Plaintiff responds to
Defendants' Motion that her Petition meets federal
pleading standards, she seeks, in the alternative, leave to
amend her pleading (Doc. 14 at 3). Contrary to Defendants
assertion, the Court notes that such “omnibus fact
section[s]” are common in federal court especially, as
is the case here, where a timeline or narrative is relevant
to the underlying claims. However, in filing her Amended
Complaint, Plaintiff is reminded that footnotes such as the
ones in the current Petition are disfavored in federal court.
Klopfenstein v. P&C Creative Investments, LLC,
No. 1:07CV47 CDP, 2007 WL 2507779, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Aug. 30,
2007). Further, any citation or reference to evidence not a
part of this Court's record should not be included.
Cf. Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(c) (allowing for the
attachment of a written instrument). In light the Court's
decision to allow Plaintiff file an Amended Complaint,
Defendants remaining requests regarding dismissal whether
purportedly pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
15(e), failure to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
8, or pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
for failure to state a claim are denied without prejudice as
Defendants request their costs and attorney's fees in
bringing this motion (Doc. 8 at 3). Defendants offer no
support for their request and the Court cannot discern any.
Defendants removed the current Petition from state court and
the Petition's failure to comply with the federal rules
is not unforeseeable. Further there is no indication on the