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Abbott v. Cornwell

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

July 20, 2018

JAMES ABBOTT, Plaintiff,
CARL E. CORNWELL, II, et al., Defendants.



         This case arises out of a criminal case involving pro se Plaintiff James Abbott (“Abbott”).[1]In this case, Abbott is suing the judge who presided over his criminal case, prosecuting attorneys, defense attorneys, and others involved in the criminal case, for violations of his constitutional and civil rights.

         Now before the Court is Defendants Jean Peters Baker (“Baker”), Patrick Edwards (“Edwards”), and Michael Hunt's (“Hunt”) Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 11). As explained below, the motion is GRANTED.


         Taking Plaintiff's allegations as true and drawing all reasonable inferences in his favor, the Court finds the facts to be as follows.

         This lawsuit stems from a state criminal case. Abbott was arrested and charged with a felony. After a supplemental mental health examination, the Judge dismissed his case without prejudice, finding he lacked the mental fitness to proceed, and there was not a substantial probability he would be mentally fit to proceed in the foreseeable future.

         Abbott filed this two-count lawsuit alleging violations of his civil rights by the Judge, Baker, Edwards, and Hunt (collectively “Prosecutor Defendants”), public defenders, private defense attorneys, a psychologist, and Correct Care Solutions, for actions that took place related to his criminal case. Count I alleges Abbott was detained in jail and then released to obtain immediate medical treatment at his own expense. Count II alleges Defendants conspired to deprive Abbott of his constitutional rights by arresting him, fabricating and contriving criminal charges against him, denying his right to preliminary hearing through excessive continuances, making false statements to keep him in jail, imposing excessive bail, refusing to provide him with adequate and appropriate medical care and treatment, and releasing him from jail to avoid the cost of medical treatment. Abbott seeks compensatory and punitive damages, costs, pre- and post-judgment interest, and a declaration that is constitutional and civil rights were violated.

         Prosecutor Defendants are prosecutors employed by Jackson County, Missouri. Abbott alleges Edwards falsified Plaintiff's legal representation on a motion for mental examination. He further alleges that Hunt and Edwards failed to present “proof of cause” at a preliminary hearing. As to Hunt and Baker, he alleges they conspired to provide him with continued necessary medical care. Finally, he alleges the Prosecutor Defendants conspired to violate his 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th amendment rights as well as his § 1983 civil rights. Finally, Abbott alleges that his rights were violated through excessive continuances and that he was improperly charged. (Doc. 1-3).

         The Prosecutor Defendants move to dismiss Abbott's claims against them under Rule 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) arguing the Rooker-Feldman doctrine applies and that they have immunity from suits.


         There are two types of challenges to subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1): “factual” attacks and “facial” attacks. Osborn v. United States, 918 F.2d 724, 729 n.6 (8th Cir. 1990). In a factual attack, the court considers matters extrinsic to the pleadings to determine if it has subject matter jurisdiction. A facial attack challenges subject matter jurisdiction based on the bare allegations in the complaint. In a facial attack the court assumes the allegations in the complaint are true, whereas in a factual attack the court does not. The pending motion is a facial attack because the Prosecutor Defendants argue that even if Abbott's allegations are true, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.

         The purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the legal sufficiency of the complaint. When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court assumes the factual allegations of a complaint are true and construes the facts in favor of the plaintiff. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326 (1989). To avoid dismissal, the complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         Because Plaintiff is pro se, the Court is bound to liberally construe his filings in order to do substantial justice. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). “Though pro se complaints are to be construed liberally, they still must allege sufficient facts to support the ...

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