United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on its own motion. On January
10, 2019, the Court ordered movant Becky Peters to
demonstrate that she was the real party in interest in this
action and to file an amended complaint within sixty (60)
days. Movant has failed to respond. Accordingly, for the
reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss this action
Keith Smith was a pretrial detainee being held at the
Reynolds County Jail, in Centerville, Missouri. (Docket No. 1
at 2). At some point during his incarceration, he filled out
a Court-provided 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint form, suing
Reynolds County Sheriff Tom Stout in his official capacity.
The complaint was signed on November 7, 2018. (Docket No. 1
at 10). Before Mr. Smith could file his complaint, he passed
away on November 19, 2018. (Docket No. 3).
posthumously filed Mr. Smith's complaint with the Court
on December 13, 2018. The complaint was accompanied by a
letter from movant in which she asserted that Mr. Smith
intended to file the complaint in federal court. However, he
had not gotten around to doing so before he passed away.
Movant stated that she eventually received the paperwork from
the Reynolds County Jail, where Mr. Smith had been
incarcerated. In her letter, movant asked whether or not the
case could go forward in light of Mr. Smith's death. The
Court construed the letter as a motion to be plaintiffs
January 10, 2019, the Court ordered movant to demonstrate
that she was the real party in interest in this action and to
file an amended complaint. (Docket No. 5). She was given
sixty (60) days in which to reply. The Court has not received
complaint in the instant case was completed by Mr. Smith, who
died before he was able to file it with the Court. As such,
Fed.R.Civ.P. 25, relating to the substitution of parties, is
the issue as to whether movant can bring a claim on Mr.
Smith's behalf is governed by Rule 17(a), which provides
that an "action must be prosecuted in the name of the
real party in interest." Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(a)(1).
"The real party in interest is a party who, under
governing substantive law, possesses the rights to be
enforced." Consul Gen. of Republic of Indonesia v.
Bill's Rentals, Inc., 330 F.3d 1041, 1045
(8th Cir. 2003). See also Cascades Dev. of
Minnesota, LLC v. Nat'l Specialty Ins., 675 F.3d
1095, 1098 (8th Cir. 2012). The purpose of Rule
17(a) "is simply to protect the defendant against a
subsequent action by the party actually entitled to recover,
and to insure generally that the judgment will have its
proper effect as res judicata." Curtis Lumber Co.,
Inc. v. Louisiana Pac. Corp., 618 F.3d 762, 771
(8th Cir. 2010). As such, the party bringing an
action must actually possess, under the substantive law, the
right sought to be enforced. United HealthCare Corp. v.
American Trade Ins. Co., Ltd., 88 F.3d 563, 569
(8th Cir. 1996).
provides that the following persons may sue in their own
names without joining the person for whose benefit the action
(A) an executor;
(B) an administrator;
(C) a guardian:
(D) a ...