United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
C. HAMILTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the Motion of Defendant, the
City of Saint Louis Missouri, to dismiss or in the
alternative to strike the Plaintiff's Amended Complaint
filed February 14, 2019. (ECF No. 24). The matter is fully
briefed and ready for disposition.
September 15, 2017, the Circuit Court of the City of St.
Louis issued its findings and verdict in Stockley,
prompting some members of the public to engage in protest
activity around the St. Louis metropolitan area including
within the City of St. Louis. (ECF No. 21, ¶¶
12-17). The Protests concerned the verdict itself and broader
issues including racism in the criminal justice system and
the use of force by police officers against African-American
citizens. Id. ¶¶ 18-20. Most of the
protests were non-violent. Id. ¶ 23. “In
response to the protests, St. Louis Metropolitan police
officers amassed at several protests wearing military-like
tactical dress, helmets, batons, and full-body riot shields
and carrying chemical agents. Id. ¶ 21.
approximately 7:00 PM on September 15, 2017, Plaintiff went
to the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis city to
protest the Stockley acquittal. Id. ¶ 37.
Plaintiff has been an active protester for the Black Lives
Matter Movement since 2014. Id. ¶ 38. Plaintiff
participated in a march that started in the Central West End.
Id. ¶ 39. Following the march she observed
buses of riot police officers on Lake Avenue. Id.
She also observed SLMPD officers in riot gear blocking off
the intersection at Waterman Boulevard and Lake Avenue.
Id. ¶¶ 39-40. Plaintiff then entered the
Central Reform Congregation, a Synagogue near the
intersection to avoid tear gas between 9:30 PM and 10:00 PM.
Id. ¶ 42. Plaintiff asserts that approximately
100-150 people also sought refuge in the Synagogue, and that
while inside, she could hear SLMPD officers banging on the
door and yelling. Id. ¶¶ 43-44. Plaintiff
asserts that the Synagogue was surrounded by SLMPD officers
which caused Plaintiff and others to remain in the Synagogue
for approximately an hour. Id. ¶ 45. Later,
Plaintiff and approximately ten other protesters exited the
Synagogue. Id. ¶ 47. Plaintiff decided to go
home so she attempted to reach her vehicle to leave.
Id. To reach her vehicle, located on Euclid and
Laclede, Plaintiff, along with other individuals, walked
south on Kingshighway. Id. ¶¶ 47-49. They
were approached by a line of SLMPD officers. Id.
¶ 48. Plaintiff sough permission to cross the line of
police to reach her vehicle. Id. ¶ 49. The
police granted Plaintiff and others to cross the line.
Id. ¶ 50. Plaintiff asserts that as she crossed
the police line, they began to make mocking statements toward
her. Id. ¶ 51. Before reaching her vehicle,
Plaintiff saw an armored SLMPD truck speed toward where she
and others were walking. Id. ¶ 53. Plaintiff
yelled for those with her to take cover. Id. ¶
54. The armored truck passed Plaintiff once without incident.
Id. ¶ 56. Plaintiff and others quickly crossed
Lindell to get to their vehicles. Id. ¶ 57. The
SLMPD truck then made a U-Turn and returned to
Plaintiff's location and the SLMPD dispersed tear gas.
Id. ¶ 58. Plaintiff asserts that she did not
hear a warning at the time the tear gas was being deployed.
Id. ¶ 59. Plaintiff further asserts that she
was not committing any crime, nor was any crime being
committed at the time the tear gas was deployed. Id.
¶¶ 60-61. Plaintiff asserts that she began to feel
excruciating pain; her eyes began to burn, mucus ran from her
nose, and her breathing became labored. Id. ¶
62. These reactions persisted for several months.
Id. Plaintiff asserts that she has suffered from
respiratory issued as a result of the tear gassing.
Id. ¶ 67.
asserts First Amendment (Count I), Conspiracy to Deprive
Civil Rights (Count II) and excessive force (VII) against the
individual officers pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff also asserts § 1983 claims against the City
(Count III) alleging municipal liability for failure to train
and for an unconstitutional policy or custom. Finally,
Plaintiff asserts supplemental state-law claims alleging
assault (Count IV), battery (Count VIII), and the intentional
infliction and negligent infliction of emotional distress
(Counts V and VI).
City moves to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to
comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a) “short and plain
statement” requirement and to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In
the alternative, Defendant moves to strike certain paragraphs
of the complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f) as immaterial or
impertinent. Specifically, the City moves to dismiss
Plaintiff's §1983 Monell and Conspiracy
claims under 12(b)(6), asserting that Plaintiff fails to
state a cognizable claim for municipal liability based on
policy or custom, and is barred from raising a 1983
conspiracy claim against Defendant due to the intracorporate
to Dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a) or in the Alternative
Motion to Strike
City moves to dismiss Plaintiff's amended complaint for
failure to comply with the “short and plain”
statement requirement of Rule 8(a), arguing that the amended
complaint contains inflammatory rhetoric. (ECF No. 27, at 4).
Specifically, the City objects to Plaintiff's allegations
concerning the Stockley verdict, the nature of the
public protests in response thereto, the prior orders of this
Court concerning SLMPD actions in response to public
protests, and the attachment of hearing transcript
documentation to the complaint. Id., at 6.
Alternatively, the City moves to strike these paragraphs
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f) as immaterial or impertinent.
other judges in the District have held with respect to the
same challenge in related cases, the Complaint's factual
allegations and supporting exhibits, to which the City
objects, are relevant to the Plaintiff's municipal
liability claim at a minimum. Laney v. City of St. Louis,
Mo., No. 4:18 CV 1575 CDP, 2019 WL 2423308, at *3 (E.D.
Mo. June 10, 2019); Altridge v. City of St. Louis,
Mo., No. 4:18 CV 1677 CAS, 2019 WL 1695982, at *4 (E.D.
Mo. Apr. 17, 2019). The Court therefore finds that dismissal
under Rule 8(a) or striking under Rule 12(f) is not
for Motion to Dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P.
ruling on a motion to 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, 1-39 (8th Cir.
2005)(citation omitted). The complaint's factual
allegations must be sufficient “to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level, ” 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, 520 (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 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, 129 1937, 1949 (2009)(citing Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555 (pleading offering only “labels and
conclusions” or formulaic recitation of the elements of
a cause of action” will not do)).