United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
WILLIAM E. PETTY, Plaintiff,
STATE OF MISSOURI and CITY OF ST. LOUIS, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. BODENHAUSEN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant State of
Missouri's (“State”) Motion to Dismiss (ECF
No. 19) and Defendant City of St. Louis'
(“City”) Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's
Complaint (ECF No. 23). Plaintiff William E. Petty
(“Petty”) has filed responses in opposition and
the issues are fully briefed. All matters are pending before
the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge, with consent
of the parties, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).
appears to challenge the constitutionality of Chapter 138 of
the Revised Statutes of Missouri, entitled Equalization
and Review of Tax Assessments and comprised of
approximately sixty separate statutes. Petty seeks to have
Chapter 138 removed from the books as a tax on real estate.
In response, the State and the City contend that Petty has
failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The
State also asserts that, pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment,
sovereign immunity bars Petty's claim against the State,
and Petty lacks standing.
Complaint, Petty alleges that the State and the City have
“install[ed] a tax on real estate property that is
prevented by the Constition [sic] … by imposing the
equalization law.” (Complaint, ECF No. 1 at 1-2) Petty
further alleges that ‘[t]he State of Missouri and
counties and cities is [sic] forbidden by the Constitution
from imposing any tax on any real estate property; despite
this law, they proceeded to install, as a property tax called
the equalization Law, Chapter 138 as a tax on real
estate.” (Id. at 4) As relief, Petty requests
that “Missouri Law Chapter 138 Equalization Law with
all of its parts, removed from the books as a tax on real
estate, and all money collected returned to those they took
it from.” (Id. at 5)
2017, Petty, an owner of real property in St. Louis City,
received a Change of Assessment Notice from the City of St.
Louis, Office of the Assessor, which reflected a general
equalization increasing the appraised value of his
residential property and the estimated real estate taxes from
$585.39 in 2016 to $1, 232.12 in 2017. (ECF Nos. 22, 29, and
purpose of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
is to test the legal sufficiency of the complaint. To survive
a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted, “a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. V.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The requirement of
facial plausibility is satisfied “when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. A claim for relief
“must include sufficient factual information to provide
the ‘grounds' on which the claim rests, and to
raise a right to relief above a speculative level.”
Schaaf v. Residential Funding Corp., 517 F.3d 544,
549 (8th Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555 & n.3). This obligation requires a plaintiff to plead
“more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all of the
factual allegations contained in the complaint, even if it
appears that “actual proof of those facts is
improbable, ” and reviews the complaint to determine
whether its allegations show that the pleader is entitled to
relief. Id. at 555-56; Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 8(a)(2).
The principle that a court must accept as true all of the
allegations contained in a complaint does not apply to legal
conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 678.
State and City's Motions to Dismiss - Failure to
State a Claim
person aggrieved by an assessment of real estate taxes on
property may appeal to the board of equalization. The
procedures for equalization and review of real estate tax
assessments by the board of equalization are found in Chapter
138. See St. Peters Hosp. v. Zimmerman, 914 S.W.2d
26, 28 (Mo.Ct.App. 1995). The Missouri Constitution and
Statutes delineate a comprehensive plan for the valuation of
property for tax purposes and in general the administration
of the over-all scheme, including valuation and assessment.
Const. Mo., Art. 10, Sec. 14, Chapter 138.
appears that Petty seeks to challenge the City of St. Louis
board of equalization's increase in the assessed value of
his property resulting in an increase in his real estate
property taxes. Although Petty could have appealed the
increased assessment value of his real property, it appears
he did not do so.