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Nonn v. Curtis

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

November 3, 2017

MELVIN NONN, Plaintiff,
DAN CURTIS, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Melvin Nonn filed his petition in the Circuit Court of Madison County, Missouri against defendants Officer Dan Curtis, the City of Fredericktown, Missouri, and Frederick Town Police Chief Eric Hovis. Plaintiff claims, among other things, that his civil rights were violated under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in connection with an incident that took place on June 9, 2012. Defendants removed the case to this Court pursuant to this Court's federal question jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1441. Defendants have moved to dismiss Counts III, IV, and V of the complaint (#21). Since that motion was filed, plaintiff voluntarily dismissed defendants City of Fredericktown and Chief Hovis. The matter is fully briefed, and the Court will address the motion as brought by defendant Curtis.

         I. Factual Background

         For the purpose of this motion to dismiss, plaintiff's allegations are taken as true. As of June 9, 2012, plaintiff had been diagnosed with and was being treated for bipolar disorder. Plaintiff, however, had been failing to take his medications, and his deteriorating mental condition caused his wife to call 911 in order to help “calm down” her husband. Plaintiff alleges that when police arrived outsider the home, plaintiff was sitting on a chair, unarmed, and playing a guitar. Then, plaintiff alleges that --- without warning or provocation --- defendant Curtis broke down the door of the home, charged at plaintiff, and struck plaintiff violently on the head with the end of defendant's assault weapon. Plaintiff further alleges that, while he was incapacitated and lying on the ground, defendant Curtis administered an electrical shock to plaintiff using Curtis's Tazer. Plaintiff was then held for approximately forty hours in police custody before receiving medical attention for his injuries at a St. Louis hospital. Plaintiff's complaint includes five counts: Count I is for violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Count II is for a “Monell Claim” under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Count III is for Assault; Count IV is for Battery; and Count V is for False Imprisonment. Plaintiff filed his complaint on October 5, 2016.

         Defendant Curtis moves to dismiss Counts III-V because they are barred by the statute of limitations.

         II. Legal Standard

         The purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is to test the legal sufficiency of a complaint so as to eliminate those actions “which are fatally flawed in their legal premises and deigned to fail, thereby sparing litigants the burden of unnecessary pretrial and trial activity.” Young v. City of St. Charles, 244 F.3d 623, 627 (8th Cir. 2001) (citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326-27 (1989)). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a claim must be facially plausible, meaning that the ‘factual content. . . allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'” Cole v. Homier Dist. Co., Inc., 599 F.3d 856, 861 (8th Cir. 2010) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). The Court must “accept the allegations contained in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party.” Id. (quoting Coons v. Mineta, 410 F.3d 1036, 1039 (8th Cir. 2005)). However, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, ” will not pass muster. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         III. Discussion

         Defendant contends that Missouri state law claims for the assault, battery, and false imprisonment actions against him must be commenced within three years. §516.130(1) RSMo. Specifically, the statute states:

Within three years: (1) An action against a sheriff, coroner or other officer, upon a liability incurred by the doing of an act in his official capacity and in virtue of his office, or by the omission of an official duty, including the nonpayment of money collected upon an execution or otherwise.

Id. There is some confusion in the law regarding whether that three-year statute of limitations or the assault-and-battery-specific two-year statute of limitations applies.

         That statute states:

Within two years: an action for libel, slander, injurious falsehood, assault, battery, false imprisonment, criminal conversation, malicious prosecution or actions ...

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