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Mecey v. City of Farmington

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

November 22, 2017

ROBIN MECEY and DAVID MECEY, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF FARMINGTON, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JEAN C. HAMILTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss, For More Definite Statement, and/or to Strike Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint filed by Defendants J.C. Penny Corporation, Inc., and Victoria Bollman. (ECF 25). The Motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Robin Mecey and David Mecey filed their pro se Complaint on June 12, 2017. (ECF 1). Defendant J.C. Penny Corporation, Inc., (J.C. Penny) and Defendant Victoria Bollman (Bollman) each filed a Motion to Dismiss, For More Definite Statement and/or to Strike (ECF 10; ECF 17) and Defendant Edward Pultz filed a Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, for More Definite Statement and to Strike (ECF 18).

         Prior to ruling on the aforementioned Motions, the Court granted Plaintiffs leave to file an amended complaint. (ECF 22). On September 1, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint. (ECF 23). In its first paragraph, titled “Jurisdictional Statement, ” the fourteen page First Amended Complaint states that Plaintiffs are bringing their claims against “a municipality, it's [sic] officers and individuals acting under color of law” and that they are challenging “the constitutionality of their acts.” (ECF 23, ¶ 1). In its fourth paragraph, the First Amended Complaint states that, for purposes of Plaintiffs' claims, J.C. Penney and Bollman “were acting under color of law RSMO 537.125[1] and in concert with the City of Farmington and it's [sic] representatives.” (ECF 23, ¶ 4).

         In a fifth paragraph, titled “Nature of the Case, ” Plaintiffs state that Loss Prevention Agent Summer Taylor was sent to the J.C. Penny store in Farmington, Missouri, where Robin Mecey worked, and that Taylor was to investigate alleged shortages in cash registers throughout the store. This paragraph further states that “Robin Mecey was singled out with no probable cause, ” “lured into the back room of the store under false pretenses, ” and “held against her will for over 2 hour[s] being forced to write a confession for the loss prevention agent concerning events she knew nothing about as a condition of her release.” The fifth paragraph also states that Robin Mecey “witnessed the [loss prevention agent] and her coworker fabricate evidence to make up their story.” (ECF 23, ¶ 5).

         In a sixth paragraph, under a heading titled “Causes of [A]ction, ” Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint states that, on March 24, 2014, after Robin Mecey “was lured from her work station under false pretenses into a back room of the store . . . where loss prevention agent Summer Taylor . . . was waiting, Robin Mecey was then held and terrorized for over 2 hours by the women against her will.” This paragraph continues to state that Taylor “instill[ed] fear” in Robin Mecey; that Robin Mecey “was then forced to participate . . . in falsifying evidence, fabricating a story, falsifying amounts of shortages and making up circumstances to write on the confession, in order for [] Taylor . . . ‘to close th[e] investigation so she could get home'”; that “Robin Mecey was then coerced into writing and signing [a] fabricated confession as a promise and condition of her release”; that the “restraint committed in concert with store manager [] Bollman . . . [was] noted in the Farmington Police Department . . . ‘police report'”; that “Robin Mecey was never accused or suspected of having anything on her person or within her belongings that belonged to [] J.C. Penny [] before or during the detention to justify the restraint”; that no items were recovered; that “there was no crime in progress to justify such acts”; that “Robin Mecey was restrained by the J.C. Penny staff an additional one half hour after she signed the forced, fabricated confession before police were called”; that “Robin Mecey had [a] reasonable expectation to be protected from such irresponsible, unlawful and malicious acts and to be able to engage in her contractual agreements and peacefully enjoy the fruits of her labor without being singled out by [] Loss Prevention agents with personal agendas and police powers acting in the name of the State”; and that Bollman and J.C. Penney “knew or should have known that such acts are criminal and violated Robin Mecey's 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th and 14th amendment rights under the guise of RSMo. 537.125.” (ECF 23, ¶ 6).

         In the seventh paragraph of the First Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs state that, on March 24, 2014, Robin Mecey was released to the custody of the Farmington Police Department; that she was charged with misdemeanors, “without a warrant, without probable cause, without exigent circumstances that involved her and without any recovered items that belonged to J.C. Penny upon her person or within her possessions”; and that she was imprisoned “at the St. Francois County Jail in violation of [the] 4th, 5th and 14th Amendments.” (ECF 23, ¶ 7).

         In paragraphs eight through ten of the First Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs further allege that, on March 24 and 25, 2014, both Robin and David Mecey were “separately refused to file complaints concerning the kidnapping, assault and false arrest of Robin Mecey” by the Farmington Police Department; that, on April 4, 2014, Bollman went to the Farmington Police Department, at its request, and, with “Missouri State notary Teresa Bohn, ” “created a misleading affidavit against Robin Mecey in an act to continue the fraudulent prosecution against Robin Mecey and to fraud judicial process [sic]”; that “the Affidavit was misleading [due] to the fact it done nothing more than explain Robin Mecey[']s duties she was hired to perform which was to take money out as well as put money into the cash drawers at J.C. Penney as they attempted to word it in a way to sound suspicious”; and that Teresa Bohn “conspire[ed]” with Bollman “on the exact wording” of the affidavit. (ECF 23, ¶¶ 8-10).

         In subsequent paragraphs, Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint provides a narrative of what allegedly took place in regard to the prosecution of Robin Mecey for misdemeanors related to the March 24, 2014 incident at J.C. Penney, as described above, and states that she was “found guilty on all charges.” (ECF 23, ¶¶ 11-13). Additionally, paragraph fifteen of the First Amended Complaint states that, on January 27, 2015, Robin and David Mecey “again tried to file a police report” at the Farmington Police Department, against persons other than Bollman or J.C. Penney for false police reports and felonious restraint and against Bollman for “signing a false affidavit against Robin Mecey.” (ECF 23, ¶ 15).

         Paragraph sixteen of the First Amended Complaint states that various persons, other than J.C. Penney or Bollman, “are accused of entering into a conspiracy to commit judicial fraud to get Robin Mecey's Trial Denovo dismissed in order for [the prosecutor] to steal the case and silence Robin and David Mecey and to conceal the kidnaping class A felony crime along with the false police reports.” (ECF 23, ¶ 16).

         The First Amended Complaint further alleges that, on March 24, 2015, David Mecey made contact with the City of Farmington Administrator to complain regarding the conduct of persons other than Bollman or J.C. Penney; that the prosecutor covered up misconduct on the part of the City of Farmington Police Department for “false arrest, ” “perjury, ” and “crimes committed against Robin Mecey from the staff at [] J.C. Penney”; that Plaintiffs' complaints to the City of Farmington Police Department regarding the conduct of J.C. Penney and its staff were true; and that, as a result of the charges against her, Robin Mecey was forced to pay fines and court costs for her “original bench trial.” (ECF 23, ¶¶ 19, 20, 23-24).

         As for “Damages, ” Plaintiffs state that they “suffered expenses of over 36 months of judicial abuse with over 1500 miles traveled and the time to respond pro se with dozens of motions answers and briefs”; that Robin Mecey has suffered “mental anguish, ” “IBS, ” and nightmares from the aforementioned events; that Robin Mecey “has had her[] 4th 5th 6th 8th and 14th amendment[] [rights] violated multiple times by the actions of the defendants and has been criminally violated”; and that Robin Mecey had to pay a fine and court costs for the “De Novo trial that she was denied.” (ECF 23, ¶ 25). For “Relief, ” Plaintiffs seek “to get the conflicting policies and the malice for rule of law in the acts of the City of Farmington in treating complainants as adversaries changed, ” plus “damages for time, co[]st and reputation, ” including a refund for fines and fees paid to the Farmington Municipal Court. (ECF 23, ¶ 26).

         In their pending Motion to Dismiss, Defendants J.C. Penny and Bollman contend that Plaintiff David Mecey fails to state a claim against them; that Plaintiffs' claims are barred by Missouri's two-year statute of limitations, Mo. Rev. Stat. § 516.140; that, to the extent Plaintiffs make a claim against J.C. Penney and Bollman for malicious prosecution, they have failed to plead the condition precedent which is that Robin Mecey was successful in the underlying prosecution; and that, because “the only clear claims of Plaintiffs against Defendants J.C. Penney and Bollman are barred, as set forth above, their entire case against said Defendants should be dismissed.” Defendants J.C. Penney and Bollman alternatively argue that the Court should strike Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint because it includes “tangential and irrelevant materials without clarifying the claims being made against each of the 15 different [D]efendants, ” and that Plaintiffs “should be ordered to provide a clear recitation of their claims against each party.” (ECF 25).

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Allegations are to be “simple, concise, and direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10(b) provides that in his or her complaint:

A party must state its claims or defenses in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances. . . . If doing so would promote clarity, each claim founded on a separate transaction or occurrence--and each defense other than a denial--must be stated in a separate count or defense.

         When a claim is so “vague or ambiguous that [a] party cannot reasonably prepare a response” a party can move for a more definite statement. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). Also, a court may strike, either pursuant to the motion of a party or on its own, “any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f).

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) provides for a motion to dismiss based on the “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” To survive a motion to dismiss a complaint must show that “‘the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). See also Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007).

         “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice” to defeat a motion to dismiss. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “[O]nly a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss.” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 679 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The pleading standard of Rule 8 “does not require ‘detailed factual allegations, ' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         Further, in regard to a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion, the Supreme Court holds:

While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, [citations omitted] a plaintiffs obligation to provide the “grounds” of his “entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do, see Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286, 106 S.Ct. 2932, 92 L.Ed.2d 209 (1986) (on a motion to dismiss, courts “are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation”). Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, see 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure ' 1216, pp. 235-236 (3d ed. 2004).

Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. See also Gregory v. Dillard's, Inc., 565 F.3d 464, 473 (8th Cir. 2009) (en banc) (“[A] plaintiff ‘must assert facts that affirmatively and plausibly suggest that the pleader has the right he claims . . ., rather than facts that are merely consistent with such a right.'”) (quoting Stalley v. Catholic Health Initiative, 509 F.3d 517, 521 (8th Cir. 2007)).

         Additionally, “a well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 (citation omitted). “The issue is not whether plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support [his or her] claims.” Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974) (abrogated on other grounds, Horlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982)).

         A pro se complaint should be liberally construed. Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2014) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). See also Frey v. City of Herculaneum, 44 F.3d 667, 671 (8th Cir. 1995) (holding that in civil rights actions a complaint should be liberally construed when determining whether it has stated a cause of action sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss). The complaint must, however, “still allege sufficient facts to support the claims advanced.” Stone, 364 F.3d at 914 (citing Dunn v. White, 880 F.2d 1188, 1197 (10th Cir. 1989) (regarding a pro se plaintiff, “we will not supply additional facts, nor will we construct a legal theory for plaintiff that assumes facts that have not been pleaded.”); Cunningham v. Ray, 648 F.2d 1185, 1186 (8th Cir. 1981) (“[P]ro se litigants must set [a claim] forth in a manner which, taking the pleaded facts as true, states a claim as a matter of law.”). With these principles in mind, the Court will consider J.C. Penney and Bollman's Motion to Dismiss, For More Definite Statement, and/or to Strike Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint.

         PLAINTIFFS' MEMORANDUM IN RESPONSE ...


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