United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on initial review under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e) of the complaint filed by pro se plaintiff,
Terrance Gunn, an inmate at Dunklin County Justice
Center.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
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 September 12,
2016, he was driving on Interstate 55 in New Madrid County,
Missouri when he was stopped by police for following too
closely to a semi. Plaintiff states that defendants conducted
an illegal search of his vehicle. Plaintiff states that
during this search, defendant Becker planted drugs on
plaintiff and then arrested him for possession with intent to
April 21, 2017, a federal grand jury indicted plaintiff on
one count of possession with intent to distribute
methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1).
See United States v. Gunn, No. 1:17-CR-34
SNLJ (E.D. Mo. filed Apr. 21, 2017). On May 25, 2017,
plaintiff pleaded not guilty to the criminal charge. A change
of plea hearing is set for January 23, 2018. Id. at
ECF No. 51.
brings this § 1983 action, alleging defendants violated
his Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable
searches. Plaintiff also asserts state law claims of sexual
battery and assault, false arrest, and intentional infliction
of emotional distress against the officers. For relief,
plaintiff seeks an injunction and monetary relief in an
amount in excess of $2.5 million.
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).
plaintiff has filed a § 1983 claim for illegal search
and seizure, and state law claims for false arrest and 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).
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).
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that all proceedings in
this case are STAYED pending final
disposition of the criminal charges pending against plaintiff
in United States v. Gunn, No. 1:17-CR-34 SNLJ (E.D.
Mo. filed Apr. 21, 2017).
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.
Gunn, No. 1:17-CR-34 SNLJ (E.D. Mo. filed Apr. 21,
IS FURTHER ORDERED that this case is
ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSED pending final
disposition of the criminal charges against plaintiff, and
may be reopened by plaintiffs filing of a motion to reopen
the case after such final disposition.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiffs motion for
preliminary injunction is DE ...