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Phillips v. City of St. Louis

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

July 20, 2018

CITY OF ST. LOUIS, Defendant.



         This matter is before the Court upon the motion of plaintiff Clint Phillips, III, for leave to commence this action without prepayment of the filing fee. The Court will grant plaintiffs motion to proceed in forma pauperis. However, after reviewing plaintiffs complaint, the Court will dismiss the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         Legal Standard

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court is required to dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To state a claim for relief under § 1983, a complaint must plead more than "legal conclusions" and "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere conclusory statements." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, which is more than a "mere possibility of misconduct." Id. at 679. "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." Id. at 678. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to, inter alia, draw upon judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679.

         When reviewing a pro se complaint under § 1915(e)(2), the Court must give it the benefit of a liberal construction. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, this does not mean that pro se complaints may be merely conclusory. Even pro se complaints are required to allege facts which, if true, state a claim for relief as a matter of law. Martin v. Aubuchon, 623 F.2d 1282, 1286 (8th Cir. 1980); see also Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914-15 (8th Cir. 2004) (federal courts are not required to "assume facts that are not alleged, just because an additional factual allegation would have formed a stronger complaint"). In addition, affording a pro se complaint the benefit of a liberal construction does not mean that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation must be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel. See McNeil v. U.S., 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 the City of St. Louis.

         Plaintiff asserts that he was accosted by unnamed St. Louis City Police Officers, apparently after his family members called to report he was schizophrenic and had not been taking his medications. Plaintiff claims the officers conducted a search and seizure of him without probable cause and without reasonable suspicion. He states that while officers were attempting to handcuff him and civilly commit him he attempted to evade arrest and they tazed him and restrained him. He was transported to the police station, where he alleges the police officers arrested him under "warrants that were invalid on [their] face." Plaintiff alleges he was then transported to the St. Louis City Justice Center where he was held with "unreasonable delay" before being taken to appear before a Judge in St. Louis City.

         Plaintiff additionally asserts that he was held for too long, "over 20 hours," by unnamed officers without a probable cause determination, and "denied the opportunity to post bond. He claims in a conclusory fashion that these allegations show a "custom or policy" of the City of St. Louis of both deliberate indifference and cruel and unusual punishment. Plaintiff also states that unnamed "prison officials" interfered with his access to courts" by denying him phone calls to attorneys or bondsman for over 60 days. And he claims the unnamed Judge in his case sentenced him over the sentencing guidelines for his unnamed crime.

         Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $10 million.


         The Court has reviewed Missouri Case.Net, the State of Missouri's online docketing system. Indeed, plaintiff was arrested on the afternoon of May 8, 2016, at the site of a domestic dispute with plaintiffs wife.[1] Plaintiff was charged with misdemeanor assault and two counts of resisting arrest. See State v. Phillips, Case No. 1622-CR02100 (22nd Judicial Circuit, City of St. Louis Court).

         A warrant was served on plaintiff on April 13, 2017, and bond was set at $2, 500 by Judge Stovall-Reid. Plaintiff did not post bond and therefore remained in custody until his sentencing, which occurred on June 19, 2017. On that date, he was sentenced to six months Suspended Imposition of Sentence ("SIS"), as well as six months Suspended Execution of Sentence ("SES"). He was then granted unsupervised probation at that time.

         Many of the allegations in the complaint are duplicative of the allegations plaintiff brought in the case Phillips v. Unknown St. Louis City Police Officers, No. 4:17-CV-1589 JMB (E.D. Mo. filed May 30, 2017), which the Court dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). As a result, these allegations will be dismissed as duplicative. E.g., Cooper v. Delo,997 F.2d ...

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