United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. ROSS UNITED STATES 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 Grammer." Based upon the
allegations in the complaint, Grammer is a police officer.
Plaintiff does not specify the capacity in which he sues
cause of action stems from a traffic stop conducted by
Grammer at an unspecified time. Plaintiffs allegations in
support of his claim are best understood if directly quoted.
They are as follows.
University City Event
I was parked on the shell filling station lot when Mr.
Grammer pulled along side of me and [gestured] that I roll
down my windows, I did not so he exited his vehicle and
tapped on my window and informed me that his [gesture] meant
to roll down my window, then he informed me that the lights
were illegal and if he saw me driving on the street with the
lights on he would issue me a citation. When I drove off the
filling station lot Mr. Grammer with another person pulled me
over and I informed him that the lights are not illegal in
the state of Missouri and that he was violating my civil
rights. I asked him for his first and last name and he said
his last name and his number would be on the citation. He
then ordered me to sign the citation or I would go to jail.
He said, "this is the way we do it around here."
(ECF No. 1 at 6-7). Plaintiff seeks a total of $1.5 million
complaint does not state whether Grammer 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 StatePolice,491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989), White v.
Jackson,865 F.3d 1064, 1075 (8th Cir. 2017). Based upon
the allegations in the complaint, Grammer is employed by a
police department. However, a police department is not an
entity subject to suit under § 1983. See Ketchum v.
City of WestMemphis, Ark,974 F.2d 81, 82 (8th
Cir. 1992) (entities such as police departments are "not
juridical entities suable as such."). Additionally, the