United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
LINA RULO, Individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of RICHARD A. RULO, SR., deceased, Plaintiff,
AUSTON C. TURNER, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
C. HAMILTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant Dustin Steinc's
(“Steinc”) Motion to Dismiss, filed March 19,
2019. (ECF No. 7). The motion is fully briefed and ready for
8, 2017, Decedent Richard A. Rulo, Sr. was driving from his
place of employment in Iron Mountain Lake, Missouri to his
residence. (Compl., ¶ 16). As Decedent approached his
home, Defendant Jermaine Sails (“Sails”), a
police officer and agent, servant and employee of the City of
Iron Mountain Lake (“City”) and the Iron Mountain
Lake Police Department, activated his police car's
emergency lights in order to stop Decedent's vehicle.
(Id., ¶¶ 11, 18). Decedent stopped at his
mailbox to retrieve his mail, and then pulled into the
driveway of his private residence and exited his vehicle.
(Id., ¶ 19). Sails parked in Decedent's
driveway behind Decedent's truck. (Id.).
to Plaintiff, Sails told Decedent he pulled him over,
“first of all, ” because Decedent was not wearing
his seatbelt. (Compl., ¶ 20). Sails ordered Decedent to
produce his driver's license and most recent insurance
card. (Id.). When Decedent failed to produce his
most recent insurance card, Sails returned to his police vehicle
to write Decedent a citation. (Id., ¶ 22). At
that time, Decedent began complaining to Plaintiff, who had
walked out onto the driveway. (Id., ¶ 24).
approximately eight to nine minutes, during which time Sails
remained seated in his police car, Defendant Auston C. Turner
(“Turner”), Chief of Police for the Iron Mountain
Lake Police Department, arrived at Decedent's residence
with his siren activated. (Compl., ¶¶ 7, 26). While
Turner and Sails talked, Plaintiff stated, “Call
[Defendant] Dustin [P. Steinc, Mayor of Iron Mountain Lake]
over here, now.” (Id., ¶¶ 12,
27-29). At that, Plaintiff maintains Turner became angry, and
walked quickly toward Decedent and Plaintiff stating,
“You're both going to jail.” (Id.,
¶ 30). When Decedent responded, “no, I'm not,
” Turner aggressively moved toward Decedent, grabbed
Decedent, swept his legs out from underneath him, and slammed
him violently to the ground. (Id., ¶ 31).
Turner and Sails then tackled Decedent and placed him in
handcuffs, and Turner ordered Sails to charge Decedent with
disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. (Id.,
¶¶ 31, 32).
sitting in the police car, Decedent began having difficulty
breathing. (Compl., ¶ 37). Emergency services were
eventually called, and they transported Decedent to a
hospital. (Id., ¶ 38). Several hours later,
while at the hospital, Decedent died. (Id., ¶
39). A May 10, 2017, autopsy determined Decedent's cause
of death to be complications of coronary artery disease, with
the manner of death listed as homicide resulting from an
altercation with police officers during a traffic stop.
(Id., ¶ 40).
filed the instant Complaint on February 26, 2019, claiming
the force used by Turner and Sails was unnecessary, excessive
and oppressive, and caused Decedent to suffer physical injury
and emotional distress. (Compl., ¶¶ 35, 37).
Plaintiff lodged the following counts against Defendant
Steinc: Municipal Liability for Failure to Train,
Supervise, Control and Discipline, and for Unconstitutional
Customs and Practices, Cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(Count III); Conspiracy to Violate Decedent's Civil
Rights, Cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count IV);
and Wrongful Death, Cognizable under Missouri State Law
(Count V). As stated above, Defendant Steinc filed the
instant Motion to Dismiss on March 19, 2019, claiming all of
Plaintiff's claims against him must be dismissed for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
(ECF No. 7).
FOR MOTION TO DISMISS
ruling on a motion dismiss, the Court must view the
allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to
plaintiff. Eckert v. Titan Tire Corp., 514 F.3d 801,
806 (8th Cir. 2008). The Court, “must accept
the allegations contained in the complaint as true and draw
all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving
party.” Coons v. Mineta, 410 F.3d 1036, 1039
(8th Cir. 2005) (citation omitted). The
complaint's factual allegations must be sufficient
“to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level, ” however, and the motion to dismiss must be
granted if the complaint does not contain “enough facts
to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007) (abrogating the “no set of
facts” standard for Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) found in
Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)).
Furthermore, “the tenet that a court must accept as
true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is
inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (pleading offering only
“labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action” will
Official Capacity Claims
support of his Motion to Dismiss, Steinc first asserts
Plaintiff's official capacity claims against him must be
dismissed for the same reasons addressed in Defendant
City's Motion to Dismiss, i.e., because
Plaintiff fails to identify any unconstitutional policies or
customs pursuant to which her constitutional rights were
violated, and because she mischaracterizes Steinc as a final
policymaker. As discussed in the Order disposing of Defendant
City's motion, the Court finds said arguments are better
suited for determination on summary judgment.