United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
LONNIE D. SNELLING Plaintiff,
CITY OF ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI Defendants.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
W. SIPPEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before me on defendants City of St. Louis (the
“City”), Land Reutilization Authority
(“LRA”), and Park Place Preservation, LP's
motions to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. [ECF Nos. 17, 34, and 37]. The plaintiff,
Lonnie Snelling, failed to meet his burden to state claims
under 42 U.S.C. §1983, 42 U.S.C. §1985, or the
Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Accordingly, I will grant
the Defendants' motions to dismiss as to these claims.
Because these were the plaintiff's only federal claims, I
decline to exercise jurisdiction over the Plaintiff's
state law claims and will dismiss them pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
filed his complaint on June 7, 2019, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1986 alleging violations
of his civil rights. He also alleged a number of state law
claims. In total the complaint alleged twenty-two claims and
named thirteen defendants. All of the claims stem from
Snelling's real estate and property holdings in the City
of St. Louis. Three motions to dismiss were filed for failure
to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and failure to
comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. Service to the remaining
defendants was stayed pending the outcome of the City's
motion to dismiss.
purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is to test the legal
sufficiency of the complaint. When considering a Rule
12(b)(6) motion, I must assume the factual allegations of the
complaint to be true and construe them in favor of the
plaintiff. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326-27
(1989). I am not, however, bound to accept as true a legal
conclusion couched as a factual allegation. Bell Atlantic
Corporation v. Twombly, 555 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the 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.C.
662, 667, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (quoting Twombly, 555
U.S. at 570). Although “specific facts are not
necessary, ” the plaintiff must allege facts sufficient
to “give fair notice of what the ... claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
plaintiff's obligation to provide the
“grounds” of his “entitlement to
relief” requires more than labels and conclusions, and
a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. A
complaint “must contain either direct or inferential
allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to
sustain recovery under some viable legal theory.”
Id. at 562 (quoted case omitted). This standard
“simply calls for enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable
expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of [the claim
or element].” Id. at 556. The issue is not
whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether
the plaintiff is entitled to present evidence in support of
his claim.” Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at
is a black citizen of St. Louis, who owns four parcels of
real estate in predominantly black neighborhoods in the City.
These properties are located at 5619-21 Maple Avenue, 5737
Cabanne Avenue, 3916 Lee Avenue, and 5039 Kensington Avenue.
Snelling alleges that his interactions with the City, LRA,
and Park Place Preservation, LP, regarding these properties
resulted in violations of his civil rights. Based on
Snelling's complaint and construed in the light most
favorable to him, the following events occurred between 2014
October 3, 2014, one of the named defendants, Leon Reitz,
broke into Snelling's property at 5619-21 Maple Avenue.
Snelling immediately called the St. Louis City Police and
several police officer arrived at the property a little while
later. One of the officers did a sweep of the property that
lasted approximately ten minutes. According to the officer,
the property was clear. The police officers then left. Based
on the officer's assurance that the property was clear,
the plaintiff entered the building to continue some
maintenance work he had started earlier. He found the
property in disarray. Additionally, while he was working, he
heard footsteps on the second floor. When he went to
investigate, he found Rietz. He again called the St. Louis
City Police, who returned and apprehended Rietz. Despite
evidence of vandalism, Reitz was only charged with trespass.
As part of this case, Snelling brings state law claims
against Reitz and the officers who responded.
2016 through 2018, Snelling had ongoing problems with the St.
Louis City Police regarding his properties located at 5737
Cabanne Avenue and 3916 Lee Avenue. In 2016, Snelling
installed an alarm system supplied by Simplisafe at 5737
Cabanne Avenue to prevent burglary. St. Louis City Ordinance
#66264 required Simplisafe obtain a permit with the city. The
permit costs twenty-five dollars, which Simplisafe billed to
Snelling. The permit allowed the alarm company to notify the
St. Louis City Police directly when there was a security
breach. By November 2016, the property was having as many as
three security breaches a month. When the police responded to
these breaches, it took them on average thirty minutes to
arrive to the scene. The police continued to respond to the
alarm company's calls until December 2016 when Snelling
was cited for two false alarms at the 5737 Cabanne Avenue
property. Pursuant to City Ordinance #66264, the City
suspended the property's alarm permit and stopped
responding to alarms at the property. While the permit was
suspended the property on Cabanne Avenue was burglarized.
Snelling had a similar experience at his property on Lee
Avenue. He purchased and permitted an alarm system at that
property in late 2017 or early 2018. In 2018, the permit for
the property on Lee Avenue was suspended and Snelling was
fined for two false alarms. Snellings says he was not
notified of the fine or suspension. The St. Louis City Police
have refused to respond to alarms at that address since 2018.
also had issues at his property at 5039 Kensington Avenue. In
2017, the property was damaged by a contractor working on a
neighboring property, 5037 Kensington Avenue, which is owned
by the LRA, an agency of the City of St. Louis. The LRA was
established by statute by the State of Missouri to return
non-revenue or -tax producing land to effective utilization
in order to provide housing, new industry, and jobs for the
City. The LRA hired Cheyenne Construction, which is owned by
Willie C. Hemphill, to demolish buildings located at 5037
Kensington Avenue. During demolition, Cheyenne Contracting
damaged Snellings property at 5039 Kensington Avenue. The
building located at 5039 Kensington Avenue was struck by a
bulldozer and partially collapsed. Snelling was then issued a
citation for a violation of City Building Code, City
Ordinance #66857 for damage Snelling claims was caused by
Cheyenne Contracting and criminals.
to Snelling, another one of his properties had previously
been damaged by one of Hemphill's companies. As a result,
Snelling sued Hemphill and his company Apostle Wrecking and
Excavating in Missouri state court, which resulted in a
default judgment against Hemphill and his company. The
default judgment, however, was for a nuisance claim. [ECF No.
2, Exhibit 16].
Snelling had a conflict with several defendants surrounding
personal property he purchased and gave to his ex-wife, who
is now deceased. According to Snelling, he and his ex-wife
entered into a verbal contract on May 8, 2016, granting him
her interest in the property he purchased for her. The
conversation was triggered by her diagnosis with terminal
cancer. After his ex-wife passed away, Snelling tried to
retrieve his property from her apartment. But her children,
who are named defendants, refused to let him take the
property and called the police. The police ...