United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
GARRY D. GIBBS, Plaintiff,
CITY OF NEW MADRID, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiffs Sixth Amended Complaint by Defendants Troopers D.L.
DeJournett and C.L. Purnell (collectively
"Troopers"). (ECF No. 91) The motion is fully
briefed and ready for disposition. Upon review of the motion
and related memoranda, the Court will grant the Troopers'
motion to dismiss.
Court stated the background of this case in its Memorandum
and Order of April 17, 2018 addressing the motion to dismiss
by Defendants City of New Madrid, Anthony Roberts, Claude
McFerren, Dave Simmons, John Dubois, and Ruben White. The
Court incorporates those facts by reference as if fully set
forth herein. With respect to the Troopers, Plaintiff raises
only one claim against them, Conspiracy to Violate Plaintiffs
Fourth Amendment Rights in Count II of the Sixth Amended
Complaint. Plaintiff alleges that the Troopers and other
individual Defendants reached a mutual understanding in a
meeting and conspired to violate Plaintiffs civil rights.
(Sixth Amended Complaint ["SAC"] ¶ 64, ECF No.
86) In furtherance, Plaintiff claims that the Troopers
witnessed the force used against Plaintiff and failed to
intervene. (Id. at ¶¶ 41-42, 48, 64(b))
The Troopers have filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that
Plaintiff has failed to state claim for conspiracy.
regard to motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint
must be dismissed if it fails to plead "enough facts to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007) (abrogating the "no set of facts" standard
set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46
(1957)). While the Supreme Court cautioned that the holding
does not require a heightened fact pleading of specifics,
"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." Id. at 555. In other words,
"[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level.. . ."
Id. This standard simply calls for enough facts to
raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal
evidence of the claim. Id. at 556.
must liberally construe the complaint in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff and accept the factual allegations
as true. See Id. at 555; see also Schaaf v.
Residential Funding Corp., 517 F.3d 544, 549 (8th Cir.
2008) (stating that in a motion to dismiss, courts accept as
true all factual allegations in the complaint); Eckert v.
Titan Tire Corp., 514 F.3d 801, 806 (8th Cir. 2008)
(explaining that courts should liberally construe the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff).
Further a court should not dismiss the complaint simply
because the court is doubtful that the plaintiff will be able
to prove all of the necessary factual allegations.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. However, "[w]here the
allegations show on the face of the complaint there is some
insuperable bar to relief, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is
appropriate." Benton v. Merrill Lynch &
Co., 524 F.3d 866, 870 (8th Cir. 2008) (citation
omitted). Courts '"are not bound to accept as true a
legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.'"
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). When considering a motion
to dismiss, a court can "begin by identifying pleadings
that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not
entitled to the assumption of truth." Id. at
679. Legal conclusions must be supported by factual
allegations to survive a motion to dismiss. Id.
Troopers argue that Plaintiff has failed to allege sufficient
facts against them to state a claim for conspiracy such that
dismissal under rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate. The Court
agrees. To adequately allege a § 1983 conspiracy claim,
a plaintiff must allege facts showing a mutual understanding
or meeting of the minds between the alleged conspirators.
Brown v. City of Pine Lawn, Mo., No. 4:17CV01542
ERW, 2018 WL 950211, at *6 (E.D. Mo. Feb. 20, 2018) (citation
omitted). Unlike the City Officers, Plaintiffs complaint
provides no specific factual allegations that the Troopers
were present at the meeting conducted by the City of New
Madrid Police Chief Claude McFerren. (SAC ¶ 34)
Plaintiff claims that his complaint inherently includes
Defendants DeJournett and Purnell as members of those in
attendance. However, Plaintiffs complaint alleges no facts
which would allow the Court to infer that these specific
Troopers had a "meeting of the minds" with any
other alleged conspirator to violate Plaintiffs
constitutional rights. The only allegations against the
Troopers are that they failed to act during Plaintiffs
arrest. This is insufficient for a conspiracy claim. See
Kalu v. Brooklyn Park Police/Fed'n, No. CV 15-112
(SRN/JJK), 2015 WL 5719462, at *8 (D. Minn. Sept. 28, 2015)
(dismissing plaintiffs conspiracy claim where the complaint
failed to allege a meeting of the minds among the specific
defendants or any defendant and another person and merely
alleged that defendant officers falsely arrested plaintiff).
Thus, the Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to state a
plausible conspiracy claim against the Troopers, and
dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is warranted.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Motion to
Dismiss Plaintiffs Sixth Amended Complaint (ECF No. 91) is
GRANTED. A separate Order of Dismissal will
accompany this Memorandum and Order.
 Defendants' Motion erroneously
refers to Plaintiffs Fifth Amended Complaint; however, their
Memorandum in Support correctly references the Sixth ...