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Goodwin v. Village of Oakview

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

March 25, 2019

ERIC L. GOODWIN, Plaintiff,
v.
VILLAGE OF OAKVIEW, MISSOURI, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION (1) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS, AND (2) DENYING AS MOOT DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO STAY

          ORTRIE D. SMITH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SENIOR JUDGE

         Pending are Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #5) and Defendants' Motion to Stay Case (Doc. #7). For the following reasons, Defendants' motion to dismiss is granted in part and denied in part, and Defendants' motion to stay is denied as moot.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In June 2016, Plaintiff Eric L. Goodwin was charged with assault by spitting, a violation of Defendant Village of Oakview, Missouri's (“Oakview”) municipal code. Doc. #3, ¶ 18. Defendant Stuart Wieland, an attorney in private practice who also serves as an Oakview prosecutor, was responsible for prosecuting the charge. Id. ¶¶ 2, 10, 20. During Plaintiff's initial appearance, Wieland was ready to proceed with trial, and the Municipal Court asked Plaintiff for his plea. Id. ¶ 20. Plaintiff responded by stating he should be read the charge and notified of his right to counsel. Id. Plaintiff was arraigned and read his rights, and Plaintiff informed the Court that he would hire an attorney. Id. ¶ 24. At Plaintiff's second appearance, Wieland presented an order for fingerprinting. Id. ¶¶ 25-26. Plaintiff did not consent to fingerprinting. Id. ¶ 28. The Municipal Court directed Plaintiff to submit to fingerprinting or go to jail. Id. ¶ 29. Plaintiff chose to be fingerprinted. Id. ¶ 30.

         When Plaintiff demanded a jury trial, the case was transferred to the Circuit Court of Clay County, Missouri. Id. ¶¶ 32-33; Oakview v. Goodwin, No. 16CY-CR05443. The Circuit Court determined Wieland had a conflict of interest, and he informed the Circuit Court that he would recuse from the matter. Doc. #3, ¶¶ 36-39. Roughly one month before trial, Oakview dismissed the charge against Plaintiff without prejudice. Id. ¶¶ 40-41. At the same time, Wieland forwarded the case to the Clay County Sheriffs Department for investigation, but Clay County later declined to prosecute Plaintiff. Id. ¶¶ 42, 45.

         In April 2017, Oakview again charged Plaintiff for assault by spitting. Id. ¶ 46. At Plaintiffs initial appearance on the second charge, Wieland appeared on Oakview's behalf and asked to proceed with trial. Id. ¶ 47. Plaintiff was granted a continuance to hire an attorney. Id. ¶ 48. Plaintiff demanded a jury trial, and the matter was transferred to the Circuit Court. Id. ¶ 49; Oakview v. Goodwin, No. 17CY-MU00087. Plaintiff requested discovery, including the Sheriffs Department's investigative report, which was produced to him days before trial was set to begin. Doc. #3, ¶ 50, 55-58. He took the deposition of the victim of the alleged crime, Laura Hill, who is also a member of the Oakview Board of Trustees. Id. ¶ 52. During her deposition, Hill could not explain why her description of the alleged suspect did not match the pictures taken of Plaintiff on the day of the alleged crime. Id. ¶¶ 53-54. At some point, Oakview asked Plaintiff not to bring an action against Hill. Id. ¶ 59. Plaintiff refused and asked to proceed to trial. Id. In December 2017, Oakview dismissed the second charge. Id. ¶ 60.

         In January 2019, Plaintiff filed this matter alleging Oakview, Wieland, Oakview Police Chief Carl Drowns, Oakview Police Officer Ashraf Alasmar, and the members of the Oakview Board of Trustees (i.e., Aarin McClelland, Melissa Boyles, Michael Dornhoffer, Bill Mumford, Barry Robertson, Gary Crispin, and Hill) violated his constitutional rights. He also contends they falsely imprisoned him, maliciously prosecuted him, and negligently inflicted emotional distress. Doc. #3. Plaintiff has incurred legal and other expenses, lost physical liberty, was threatened with incarceration, and suffered physical, emotional, and financial injuries. Id. ¶¶ 61-62. Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiffs claims due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim, and also move to dismiss his request for injunctive relief due to lack of standing. Doc. #5.

         II. MOTION TO DISMISS

         A. Standards

         Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiffs common law claims against Oakview and his official capacity claims against the individual Defendants because they are barred by sovereign immunity. When considering a facial challenge to jurisdiction, the Court “restricts itself to the face of the pleadings, and the non-moving party receives the same protections as it would defending against a motion brought under Rule 12(b)(6).” Carlsen v. GameStop, Inc., 833 F.3d 903, 908 (8th Cir. 2016) (citation omitted). A complaint should not be dismissed due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction “unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.” Osborn v. United States, 918 F.2d 724, 729 n.6 (8th Cir. 1990).

         Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's remaining claims, arguing he has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The liberal pleading standard created by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). “Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only >give the defendant fair notice of what the…claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Id. (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). The Court Amust accept as true all of the complaint's factual allegations and view them in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff[ ].” Stodghill v. Wellston Sch. Dist., 512 F.3d 472, 476 (8th Cir. 2008).

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. 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. The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

[A] court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.

Id. at 679.

         B. Civil Rights Claims

         For his First, Second, and Fourth Claims, Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated his rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Defendants move to dismiss these claims on the grounds as discussed below.

         (1) Official Capacity Claims Against All Individual Defendants

         Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's official capacity claims against all individual Defendants. They argue Oakview is already named as a Defendant, and thus, Plaintiff's official capacity claims against Oakview's employees and agents are redundant. Official-capacity suits are “another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is an agent.” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165-66 (1985) (quoting Monell v. N.Y. City Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690 n.55 (1978)). “[A] suit against a government official in only his official capacity should be dismissed as redundant if the employing entity is also named.” King v. Crestwood, 899 F.3d 643, 650 (8th Cir. 2018).

         Oakview is named as a Defendant, rendering official capacity claims against its employees and agents redundant. Also, in response to the pending motion, Plaintiff did not address Defendants' argument for dismissal of these claims. By failing to respond, Plaintiff tacitly waives an argument to the contrary. See Satcher v. Univ. of Ark. at Pine Bluff Bd. of Trs., 558 F.3d 731, 735 (8th Cir. 2009). Thus, the Court grants Defendants' motion to dismiss the official capacity claims against the individual Defendants.

         (2) Individual Capacity Claims Against Chief Drowns and Officer Alasmar

         Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's civil rights claims against Drowns and Alasmar in their individual capacities because they are entitled to qualified immunity. “Qualified immunity protects public officials from § 1983 damage actions if their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Stanley v. Finnegan, 899 F.3d 623, 626-27 (8th Cir. 2018) (citations omitted). When determining whether a defendant is entitled to dismissal based upon qualified immunity, the court must consider “(1) whether the official's conduct violated a constitutional right; and (2) whether the violated right was clearly ...


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