United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. ROSS UNITED TATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court upon the motion of plaintiff
Willie Cox, Jr. for leave to proceed in forma pauperis in
this civil action. Upon consideration of the motion and the
financial information provided in support, the Court
concludes that plaintiff is unable to pay the filing fee. The
motion will therefore be granted. Additionally, the Court
will dismiss the complaint, without prejudice.
Standard on Initial Review
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 may be
granted. An action is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable
basis in either law or fact." Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989). An action fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted if it does not
plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). 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 assume the
veracity of well-pleaded facts, but need not accept as true
"[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements."
Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at
Court must liberally construe complaints filed by laypeople.
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). This
means that "if the essence of an allegation is
discernible," the court should "construe the
complaint in a way that permits the layperson's claim to
be considered within the proper legal framework."
Solomon v. Petray, 795 F.3d 777, 787 (8th Cir. 2015)
(quoting Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir.
2004)). However, even pro se complaints must 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). Federal courts are not required to assume facts that
are not alleged, Stone, 364 F.3d at 914-15, nor are
they required to interpret procedural rules so as to excuse
mistakes by those who proceed without counsel. See McNeil
v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993).
states he brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 against "Unknown Atchison," a police officer.
Plaintiff does not specify the capacity in which he sues
Atchison. Plaintiffs cause of action stems from a traffic
stop conducted by Atchison on a "date and approximate
time" shown on "the original citation."
However, plaintiff did not provide a copy of the citation,
nor did he specify the name of the particular county in which
the traffic stop took place.
allegations in support of his claim are best understood if
directly quoted. They are as follows.
The date and approximate time are on the original citation. I
was going north on May wood and I noticed a police car in
front of me, he was finishing up with another vehicle that he
had pulled over. I proceeded past him and suddenly the same
police car was behind me with flashing lights. I pulled to a
stop and he got out of his car and said, my light were
[sic] not on, I checked the dashboard lights and
they were on, so I asked him if I could take a look, he said
no remain in the vehicle, he then asked for my license and
proof of insurance. I gave him my license and insurance card.
He said that the card was void. He went to his car for
approximately 10 minutes, got out and gave me the citation.
Then I asked him again can I get out to check the lights,
when he and I went to the front of my vehicle the headlights
were on. He said that the lights were not bright enough. He
said it's all on video. A few days later I filed for
discovery and the clerk wrote me that they had no video. Case
pending. He wrote on the citation about the accent lights
which are not illegal in the state of Missouri.
(ECF No. 1 at 5). While plaintiff avers that his case is
"pending," he does not identify any particular
case. According to Missouri Case.net, plaintiff is a
defendant in several cases that are currently pending in
different municipal courts. However, determining which one of
those cases relates to the allegations in the complaint at
bar would require the Court to engage in improper
attachment to the complaint, plaintiff writes:
"Fiduciary duty violation, probable cause violation,
illegal citation, no corpus delicti, no mens rea, no actus
reus." (ECF No. 1, attch. 1 at 2). Plaintiff states that
a "clear and powerful" message must be sent because
"they are making up laws on the street, but the actual
ordinance and the offense are not the same ...". (ECF
No. 1 at 6). Plaintiff seeks a total of $1.5 million in
complaint does not state whether Atchison is being sued in
his official or individual capacity. Where a "complaint
is silent about the capacity in which [plaintiff] is suing
defendant, [a district court must] interpret the complaint as
including only official-capacity claims." Egerdahl
v. Hibbing Community College,72 F.3d 615, 619 (8th Cir.
1995); Nix v. Norman,879 F.2d 429, 431 (8th Cir.
1989). Naming a government official in his official capacity
is the equivalent of naming the government entity that
employs him. Will v. Michigan Dept. of State Police,491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989), White v. Jackson, 865 F.3d
1064, 1075 (8th Cir. 2017). Based upon the allegations in the
complaint, Atchison is employed by a police department.
However, a police department is not an entity subject to suit
under § 1983. See Ketchum v. City of West Memphis,
Ark,974 F.2d 81, 82 (8th Cir. 1992) (entities such as
police departments are "not juridical entities suable as
such."). Additionally, the ...