Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Brawley v. St. Louis County Police Department

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

June 21, 2019

JAMES BRAWLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
ST. LOUIS COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RODNEY W. SIPPEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on the motion of plaintiff James Brawley for leave to commence this civil action without prepayment of the filing fee. (Docket No. 2). Having reviewed the motion and the financial information submitted in support, the Court will grant the motion, and assess an initial partial filing fee of $1.00. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Additionally, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim.

         28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), a prisoner bringing a civil action in forma pauperis is required to pay the full amount of the filing fee. If the prisoner has insufficient funds in his prison account to pay the entire fee, the Court must assess and, when funds exist, collect an initial partial filing fee of 20 percent of the greater of (1) the average monthly deposits in the prisoner's account, or (2) the average monthly balance in the prisoner's account for the prior six-month period. After payment of the initial partial filing fee, the prisoner is required to make monthly payments of 20 percent of the preceding month's income credited to the prisoner's account. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). The agency having custody of the prisoner will forward these monthly payments to the Clerk of Court each time the amount in the prisoner's account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee is fully paid. Id.

         Plaintiff has not submitted a prison account statement in support of his motion to proceed in forma pauperis. As a result, the Court will require plaintiff to pay an initial partial filing fee of $1.00. See Henderson v. Norris, 129 F.3d 481, 484 (8th Cir. 1997) (when a prisoner is unable to provide the Court with a certified copy of his prison account statement, the Court should assess an amount “that is reasonable, based on whatever information the court has about the prisoner's finances”). If plaintiff is unable to pay the initial partial filing fee, he must submit a copy of his prison account statement in support of his claim.

         Legal Standard on Initial Review

         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 under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, which is more than a “mere possibility of misconduct.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). “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 draw upon judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679. The court must “accept as true the facts alleged, but not legal conclusions or threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.” Barton v. Taber, 820 F.3d 958, 964 (8th Cir. 2016). See also Brown v. Green Tree Servicing LLC, 820 F.3d 371, 372-73 (8th Cir. 2016) (stating that court must accept factual allegations in complaint as true, but is not required to “accept as true any legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation”).

         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). A “liberal construction” means that if the essence of an allegation is discernible, the district court should construe the plaintiff's complaint in a way that permits his or her claim to be considered within the proper legal framework. Solomon v. Petray, 795 F.3d 777, 787 (8th Cir. 2015). However, 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 (8thCir. 2004) (stating that 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. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff is currently an inmate at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Missouri. He brings this pro se civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His complaint names the St. Louis County Police Department, the St. Louis County 4th Precinct Dog Handler (“Unknown K-9 Officer”), Unknown Palallozzi, Jolieen Taffee, and the Public Media as defendants. The defendants are sued in both their individual and official capacities.

         Plaintiff states that in December 2015, a canine “tracked [him] to a dumpster where [he] was hiding under trash.” (Docket No. 1 at 3, 8). The St. Louis County Police then opened the dumpster lid and “threw the canine on top of [him].” (Docket No. 1 at 8). According to plaintiff, defendant Unknown K-9 Officer “used his canine as a personal weapon and toy by throwing his tool on top of [him].” (Docket No. 1 at 3). He further asserts that this officer commanded the dog to bite him repeatedly, allegedly for “amusement and punishment.” Plaintiff states that the dog bites caused nerve damage and scarring in his left leg, as well as mental scarring and hospital bills.

         As a result of this incident, plaintiff was arrested and ultimately convicted of criminal charges.[1] Plaintiff states that the prosecutor in his case, Unknown Palallozzi, “worked directly” with his defense attorney to convict him. He also alleges that Palallozzi withheld discovery, thereby violating his constitutional rights. He asserts that he was falsely accused, falsely imprisoned, and maliciously prosecuted. (Docket No. 1 at 4). Plaintiff alleges this caused him deprivation of character, mental anguish, and irreparable damages.

         During the relevant time period, plaintiff was represented by defense attorney Jolieen Taffee, who he states is in private practice. (Docket No. 1 at 5). He alleges that Taffee robbed him, falsely imprisoned him, sold him out, withheld discovery, and provided ineffective assistance of counsel. (Docket No. 1 at 6). He also claims that Taffee worked with Prosecutor Palallozzi to violate his rights and secure his conviction. He states that Taffee's actions cost him money and caused mental anguish.

         Following this incident, plaintiff alleges that the Public Media slandered him. Specifically, he asserts that Channel 2 News, Channel 5 News, and “Behind the Bars” newspaper “assassinated [his] character by calling [him] [a] homeless [piece] of trash and putting a picture of [his] head in a dumpster.” He further states that the Public Media put him on “full blast” in the news and newspaper. Based on this media coverage, plaintiff states that he was deprived of his character, slandered, and suffered irreparable injuries.

         Plaintiff seeks compensation for his hospital bills, legal fees, and mental health problems in the amount of $2, 500, 000. (Docket No. 1 at 9). He also wants his “criminal charges dismissed or overturned.”[2]

         Discussion

         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming the St. Louis County Police Department, Unknown K-9 Officer, Unknown Palallozzi, Jolieen Taffee, and the Public Media as defendants. For the reasons discussed below, plaintiff's case must be dismissed.

         A. St. Louis County Police Department

         Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against the St. Louis County Police Department, because a police department is not a juridical entity subject to suit. See Ketchum v. City of West Memphis, Ark., 974 F.2d 81, 82 (8th Cir. 1992). See also Owens v. Scott Cty. Jail, 328 F.3d 1026, 1027 (8thCir. 2003) (stating that “county jails are not legal entities amenable to suit”). As such, plaintiff's claim against the St. Louis County Police Department must be dismissed. See De La Garza v. Kandiyohi Cty. Jail, 18 Fed.Appx. 436, 437 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.