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Suber v. Lemons

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

March 21, 2018

CARLOS SUBER, Plaintiff,
v.
FREDRICK LEMONS, et al., Defendants,

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RODNEY W. SIPPEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before me on defendants Fredrick Lemons, Marchelli Jemerson, Jessie Meinhardt, Carl Coleman, Dour Nodari, and Charles Adams' motions to dismiss.[1] Plaintiff Carlos Suber opposes the motions to dismiss. For the following reasons, defendants' motions will be granted.[2]

         BACKGROUND

         Suber brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1986 alleging violations of his civil rights. He also alleges state law claims for false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Named as defendants are the following members of the University City Police Department: Frederick Lemons, Marchelli Jemerson, Jessie Meinhardt, Carl Coleman, Dour Nodari, and Charles Adams.

         Suber alleges that several detectives of the University City Police Department conspired to violate his rights under the Fourth Amendment by arresting him without probable cause on October 30, 2012, and holding him into the afternoon of October 31, 2012. He asserts the detectives circumvented procedures by using an unconstitutional lineup, an administrative warrant, and an unlawful interrogation that resulted in a false arrest and false imprisonment.[3]Suber seeks damages of $301, 642.80 against defendants and punitive damages of $60, 000 per defendant. Defendants move to dismiss Suber's claims, stating they are entitled to qualified immunity.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is to test the legal sufficiency of the complaint. The factual allegations of a complaint are assumed true and construed in favor of the plaintiff, “even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556(2007) (citing Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 508 n.1 (2002)); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989) (“Rule 12(b)(6) does not countenance . . . dismissals based on a judge's disbelief of a complaint's factual allegations.”). The issue is not whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether the plaintiff is entitled to present evidence in support of his claim. Id. A viable complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 570. “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. at 555.

         FACTS

         Based on Suber's factual account and viewed in the light most favorable to him, University City detectives went to his home on October 29, 2012, to talk to him about a double murder that had occurred that day. Suber's complaint is silent about what, if any, conversations occurred between him and the detectives on that date. On the next day, Suber's attorney arranged a meeting between Suber and the detectives to be held on October 30, 2012, at 3:00 p.m. at the University City Police Department. Hours before this scheduled meeting, and unbeknownst to Suber and his attorney, defendants Marchelli Jemerson and Jessie Meinhardt arranged witnesses to the murders to view a physical lineup, which would include Suber, at the St. Louis County Justice Center. When Suber and his attorney arrived for the 3:00 p.m. scheduled meeting, Nodari told them there was no warrant for Suber's arrest and took them to be interviewed.

         During the interview, however, Suber was read his Miranda rights, and Jemerson told him and his attorney that he was being arrested for an outstanding traffic warrant in Pagedale. The detectives assured his attorney there was a bond for the traffic warrant. At this point, his attorney asked if Suber was going to Pagedale “and that's it, ” and Jemerson replied yes. Suber's attorney left, telling Suber to call him “right away if anything comes out of this.” Jemerson escorted Suber's attorney out.

         After Suber's attorney left, Defendants Jemerson, Meinhardt, and Lemons transported Suber to the St. Louis County Jail to participate in the pre-arranged lineup. During this car ride, defendants did not respond to his questioning as to where they were going, and did not respond to his repeated requests for his attorney.

         Jemerson and Meinhardt had previously arranged with Captain Bill Trachsel of the St. Louis County Justice Center for Suber to appear in a lineup. Meinhardt contacted Captain Trachsel at 2:00 p.m. to arrange the lineup. At 2:30 p.m., Meinhardt contacted two witnesses to the double homicide, both of whom agreed to view the lineup. At least one of the witnesses was transported to the Justice Center by a University City detective.

         During the lineup, the first witness identified Suber as the man he saw running away from the scene of the double homicide. The second witness identified two of the men in the lineup as looking like the man she saw running from the homicide. She thought Suber looked a lot like the suspect, but said that she could not say for certain. After the lineup, on the return trip to the University City Police Department, Suber continued to question the officers about what had happened and whether he could call his lawyer. Lemons told Suber that “he was so lucky he should play the lottery.”

         At 4:33 pm on October 30, 2012, Jemerson booked Suber on two counts of first degree murder. Suber's outstanding traffic warrant from Pagedale was also listed on the booking sheet. Upon his return to the University City Police Department, Suber was placed in a basement holding cell. Although the holding cell had a pay phone, when Suber called his mother, his call was disconnected. At that point, Suber states Lemons came downstairs and told him, “No one will be able to help [him] get out of this.”

         In the meantime, however, Suber's mother and grandmother had paid Suber's bond in Pagedale, and had reported to the University City Police Department. At the University City Police Department, officers separated the two women, and interviewed Suber's mother. Detectives asked Suber's grandmother for permission to search her home, specifically Suber's room, and she agreed. Suber was released during the afternoon of the next day, October 31, 2012. Lemons told him he could go, but also promised Suber that he would be charged with the murders.

         Nearly three months later, on January 23, 2013, a warrant was issued for Suber's arrest for the murders. An indictment was filed on March 13, 2013. No further proceedings were held in this matter, ...


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