United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
ROSS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court upon the motion of plaintiff
Taylor Bennett 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.
allegations in the instant complaint arise from the same
facts as plaintiffs criminal case, United States v.
Bennett, No. 4:13-cr-441-RWS-l (E.D. Mo. Apr. 3, 2014).
There, plaintiff was charged by indictment with five counts
related to mail fraud, access device fraud, and stealing
mail. The charges stemmed from an August 27, 2013 incident in
which officers of the Florissant, Missouri Police Department
responded to a call from a resident, later identified as
Lawrence Danielson, who reported seeing plaintiff opening
mailboxes in his neighborhood. When officers arrived on the
scene, they made contact with plaintiff and questioned her,
and searched her backpack. They discovered various items,
including an unauthorized access device and stolen mail.
Plaintiff was arrested and ultimately pled guilty to mail
fraud, access device fraud, possession of 15 or more
unauthorized access devices, and possession of stolen mail.
On April 3, 2014, she was sentenced to four concurrent terms
of forty-eight months' imprisonment followed by three
years of supervised release. She did not appeal.
August 18, 2014, plaintiff filed a motion to vacate, set
aside or correct her sentence. See Bennett v. United
States, No. 4:14-cv-1438-RWS (E.D. Mo. Apr. 21, 2015).
The Court denied plaintiffs motion on April 21, 2015 and
declined to issue a certificate of appealability. Plaintiff
did not appeal. On August 12, 2015, plaintiff filed a
successive motion to vacate. See Bennett v. United
States, No. 4:15-cv-1250-RWS (E.D. Mo. Aug. 18, 2015).
The Court transferred plaintiffs motion to the Eighth Circuit
Court of Appeals, which declined to issue a petition for
authorization to file a successive habeas application. On
December 21, 2017, plaintiff filed another successive motion
to vacate. See Bennett v. United States, No.
4:17-cv-2916-RWS (E.D. Mo. Dec. 22, 2017). The Court
dismissed the motion, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
denied authorization to file a successive habeas application.
case at bar is the third of three 42 U.S.C. § 1983
actions plaintiff has filed pro se and in forma pauperis
against these same defendants to claim constitutional
violations stemming from her August 27, 2013 arrest. See
Bennett et al. v. Lowery et al, No. 4:16-cv-2044-CEJ
(E.D. Mo. May 4, 2017) (hereafter "Bennett
i") and Bennett v. City of Florissant Police
Department, et a/., No. 4:18-cv-1413-JMB (E.D. Mo. Feb.
12, 2019) (hereafter "Bennett IF). Both
Bennett I and Bennett II were dismissed as
frivolous and/or for failure to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). In Bennett II, the Court also
determined that Heck v. Humphrey barred plaintiffs
claims that law enforcement officers Timothy Lowery, Daniel
Fletcher, Scott Sachs and Andrew Hale violated her Fourth
Amendment rights by illegally seizing her, arresting her
without probable cause, and maliciously prosecuting and
falsely imprisoning her.
Court takes judicial notice of the foregoing prior
litigation, the records of which are public records filed in
this District Court that relate to the case at bar. See
United States v. Jackson, 640 F.2d 614, 617 (8th Cir.
1981) (citations omitted) (district court may take judicial
notice, whether requested or not, of its own records and
files and facts that are part of its public records; judicial
notice is particularly applicable to the court's own
records of prior litigation related to the case before it);
see also Cravens v. Smith, 610 F.3d 1019, 1029 (8th
Cir. 2010) (quoting In re Papatones, 143 F.3d 623,
624 n. 3 (1st Cir. 1998) ("The court may take judicial
notice of its own orders and of records in a case before the
filed the five-count complaint against the City of Florissant
Police Department, and against Lowery, Fletcher, Sachs and
Hale in their official and individual capacities. All of
these defendants were named in Bennett I and
Bennett II, and the claims plaintiff asserts are
duplicative of those she asserted in Bennett I and
Bennett II Briefly, plaintiffs claims are as
of the complaint is titled "Unreasonable Search and
Seizure," and is alleged against Lowery, Fletcher and
Hale. Plaintiff avers this claim arose on August 27, 2013.
Plaintiff alleges her constitutional rights were violated on
that date when Fletcher stopped her without reasonable
suspicion. She asserts she did not match the description that
Mr. Danielson gave to police dispatch. She alleges that
Fletcher lacked probable cause to arrest her for trespass,
Sachs illegally searched her backpack, and Fletcher and Sachs
conspired to commit false arrest. Count II is also titled
"Unreasonable Search and Seizure" and is alleged
against all five defendants. Plaintiff avers this claim arose
on August 27, 2013. Plaintiff alleges the defendants violated
her constitutional rights on that date because Fletcher
lacked reasonable suspicion to stop her, Fletcher and Sachs
unlawfully arrested her, and Hale failed to give her Miranda
warnings and questioned her after she requested counsel.
III is titled "Municipal Liability and Violation of Due
Process," and is alleged against all five defendants.
Plaintiff avers this claim arose on August 27, 2013.
Plaintiff alleges the defendants violated her constitutional
rights on that date when they did not allow her to call her
attorney, and subjected her to "horrific treatment"
while in custody. Plaintiff alleges that "police
officers" "bully, harass and deprive private
citizens of their civil liberties," and she states that
the City of Florissant has policies and customs that led to
the violation of her constitutional rights. She also alleges
that the Florissant Police Department had a policy to use
negligent hiring practices, inadequately supervise its
officers, and hold people in jail without a hearing. Count IV
is titled "False Imprisonment" and is alleged
against all five defendants. Plaintiff avers this claim arose
on August 27, 2013, and she alleges the defendants falsely
arrested and imprisoned her. Count V is titled
"Malicious Prosecution," and is alleged against
Fletcher, Sachs and Hale. Plaintiff avers this claim arose on
August 27, 2013. She alleges the defendants falsified a
police report and gave false statements to secure a warrant.
to the complaint is a record of an interview of Mr.
Danielson, taken by private investigator Tim Woodburn on
September 10, 2018. The statement identifies plaintiff as Mr.
Woodburn's client. Mr. Danielson stated that on August
27, 2013, he saw an unknown person looking in his
neighbor's mailbox. He called police, and told them he
believed the person was a female wearing a backpack. He did
not recall what the person wore or what body style the person
had, but "reiterated that he told the police it was a
female." "He also indicated he received threatening
letters from jail from the client." As relief, plaintiff
seeks damages and unspecified injunctive relief to prevent
future harassment from the defendants. However, plaintiff
does not allege she has had any interaction with any
defendant since the time of the events described in the
complaint. Plaintiff also asks the Court to initiate a
criminal investigation into the defendants' actions.
filed this action in forma pauperis, and the claims she
asserts against the defendants are duplicative of those she
brought against these same defendants in Bennett I
and Bennett II, both of which were dismissed
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). While plaintiff has now
provided a report from the September 2018 interview of Mr.
Danielson, plaintiff does not allege, nor is it apparent,