United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
REV. XIU HUI “JOSEPH” JIANG, Plaintiff,
TONYA LEVETTE PORTER and THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
G. FLEISSIG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendants’ motion to
dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) (ECF No. 10) and Defendant
Porter’s motion for the assessment of costs under Rule
41(d) (ECF No. 9). For the reasons set forth below,
Defendants’ motion to dismiss will be granted in part
and denied in part, and Porter’s motion for costs will
a Chinese-born Catholic priest, originally filed a complaint
against multiple defendants in an earlier case asserting that
they had falsely accused him of and charged him with child
sexual abuse. No. 4:15-CV-1008. Specifically, Plaintiff
asserted that the child’s parents fabricated the
allegations for monetary gain, that St. Louis police officers
conducted an inadequate investigation and targeted Plaintiff
for prosecution based on his religion and ethnicity, and that
the non-profit organization Survivors Network of those Abused
by Priests (SNAP) and certain SNAP representatives led a
public smear campaign against him. The criminal case against
Plaintiff remained pending from April 2014 until June 2015
when it was dismissed shortly before trial.Plaintiff filed
his first complaint a week later asserting a total of 15
counts, including various civil rights violations under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 as well as claims of conspiracy, malicious
official acts, abuse of process, defamation, and intentional
infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiff’s claims
against the City of St. Louis were dismissed under Rule
12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. Jiang v.
Porter, 156 F.Supp.3d 996, 1010 (E.D. Mo. 2015) (J.
Jackson). Plaintiff’s claims against the other
defendants survived, and discovery proceeded litigiously for
nearly two years, ultimately resulting in sanctions against
some defendants and finally settlement. During that time,
Plaintiff discovered information that he believed revived his
claims against the City, namely that the defendant
officers’ superior, Sergeant Davis, ordered
Plaintiff’s arrest in violation of department practice
and procedure. In light of this revelation, Plaintiff sought
to either amend his complaint or dismiss and re-file the case
in order to pursue his claims against the City. 4:15-CV-1008,
ECF No. 259.
objected to Plaintiff’s motion to amend but consented
to Plaintiff’s voluntary dismissal without prejudice
under Rule 41(a). 4:15-CV-1008, ECF No. 260. Defendants did
not request fees or expenses at that time. The Court (J.
Shaw) denied Plaintiff’s motion to amend but granted
his motion for voluntary dismissal and closed the case on
November 21, 2017. 4:15-CV-1008, ECF No. 262.
November 1, 2018, Plaintiff filed the new complaint now
pending. As relevant to his remaining claims,
Plaintiff’s new complaint is substantially similar to
his 2015 complaint, with the additional allegation that
Sergeant Davis was selling police records to local attorneys
as leads to generate civil suits against priests. ECF No. 1,
¶ 52-54, 72. Upon receipt of summons, Defendants filed
the present motion to dismiss, and Porter filed a motion for
costs incurred in the first case.
seek dismissal of the entirety of Plaintiff’s re-filed
complaint as to both the City and Officer Porter. As a
preliminary matter, the Court notes that neither side raises
arguments with respect to preclusion as a bar to
Plaintiff’s reassertion of claims against the City or
Porter’s reassertion of qualified immunity, the merits
of which were previously adjudicated on a motion to dismiss
in the first case. While this Court has the authority to
raise preclusion issues sua sponteand questions
the propriety of the parties’ reciprocal “second
bite” in this action - on principles of collateral
estoppel at a minimum - the Court sees no reason to undertake
the analysis insofar as the ultimate result is the same.
Nonetheless, this Court need not repeat the entirety of Judge
Jackson’s analysis but will simply summarize it and
elaborate as warranted.
purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test
the legal sufficiency of the complaint. To survive a motion
to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a complaint must
contain “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true,
to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). The court must accept the complaint’s factual
allegations as true and construe them in the
plaintiff’s favor, but it is not required to accept the
legal conclusions the complaint draws from the facts alleged.
Id. at 678. “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.;
see also McDonough v. Anoka Cty., 799 F.3d 931, 945
(8th Cir. 2015). Courts are not bound to accept as true a
legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation, and factual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level. Torti v. Hoag, 868 F.3d 666,
671 (8th Cir. 2017).
Against Officer Porter
claims against Porter were and are the following (enumerated
by counts): (I) religious discrimination; (II) selective
enforcement based on religion; (III) selective prosecution
based on religion; (IV) selective enforcement based on race
and national origin; (V) selective prosecution based on race
and national origin; (VI) violation of substantive due
process – conduct shocking the conscience; (VII)
conspiracy to violate civil rights; (VIII) malicious official
acts; (XII) abuse of process; and (XIII) intentional
infliction of emotional distress. Judge Jackson denied
Defendants’ motion to dismiss in the first case as to
all of these claims on the same grounds asserted here.
Jiang, 156 F.Supp.3d at 1010.
as to Counts I through VI, Defendants sought and again seek
dismissal of the claims against Porter on the basis of
qualified immunity. “Qualified immunity protects
government officials from liability for civil damages insofar
as their conduct does not violate clearly established
statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable
person would have known.” Id. at 1003 (citing
Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009)).
Dismissal on the basis of qualified immunity is inappropriate
unless it ...