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Adams v. Bonner

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

January 10, 2018

MARLON ADAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
LELAND BONNER, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff, Marlon Adams, an inmate at the St. Charles County Department of Corrections, 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 arising out of the same facts.

         Background

         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 asserting violations of his Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure. He states that on November 23, 2017, he was walking to a friend's house when he was stopped by eight to ten police officers who had jumped out of their police vehicles with their hands on their holsters. Plaintiff states that defendant Officer Leland Bonner ordered plaintiff to stop, conducted a pat-down search of him, and found a gun.

         On December 14, 2017, a federal grand jury indicted plaintiff on one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. See United States v. Adams, No. 4:17-CR-579 RLW/JMB (E.D. Mo. filed Dec. 14, 2017). On January 5, 2018, plaintiff pleaded not guilty to the criminal charge; a trial date has not been set. Id.

         Plaintiff brings this § 1983 action, alleging defendant Bonner violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches; defendant Unknown Officers Nos. 2-8 conspired with defendant Bonner to violate plaintiff's rights; and defendant City of St. Louis has an unconstitutional “stop and frisk” policy allowing officers to stop black men and search them without probable cause. Finally, plaintiff asserts a state law claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress against the officers. For relief, plaintiff seeks an injunction and monetary relief in the amount of $510, 010.00.

         Discussion

         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 (or files any other claim related to rulings that will likely be made in a pending or anticipated criminal trial), 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 whether the impending civil action will impugn that verdict, all this at a time when it can hardly be known what evidence the prosecution has in its possession.” Id. at 393 (internal citation omitted).

         Here, plaintiff does not specifically assert a claim for false arrest, but asserts § 1983 claims for illegal search and seizure, conspiracy, and a state law claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. These claims relate to rulings that “will likely be made in a pending or anticipated criminal trial.” Id. The principles of Wallace v. Kato dictate that further consideration of plaintiff's § 1983 claims should be stayed until the underlying criminal matter against plaintiff has been resolved through criminal proceedings. See, e.g., Vonneedo v. Dennis, No. 1:17-CV-183 NAB, 2017 WL 5904005, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Nov. 30, 2017) (staying § 1983 case alleging unconstitutional search and seizure under principles articulated in Wallace v. Kato); Anderson v. Robinson, No. 4:12-CV-967 CAS, 2013 WL 4502598, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Aug. 22, 2013) (same).

         Additionally, a stay or abstention until resolution of the criminal matter would be appropriate because a prisoner may not recover damages in a § 1983 suit where the judgment would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction, continued imprisonment or sentence unless the conviction or sentence is reversed, expunged or called into question by issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. See Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994); Schafer v. Moore, 46 F.3d 43, 45 (8th Cir. 1995); see also Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 648 (1997) (applying rule in § 1983 suit seeking declaratory relief).

         Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED. [ECF No. 3]

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiff must pay an initial filing fee of $1.00 within thirty (30) days of the date of this Order. Plaintiff is instructed to make his remittance payable to “Clerk, United States District Court, ” and to include upon it: (1) his name; (2) his prison registration number; (3) the case number; and (4) that the remittance is for an original proceeding.[2]

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that all proceedings in this case are STAYED pending final disposition of the criminal charges pending against plaintiff in United States v. Adams, No. 4:17-CR-579 RLW/JMB (E.D. Mo. filed Dec. 14, 2017).

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff shall notify the Court in writing concerning the final disposition of the criminal charges pending against him in United States v. Adams, ...


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