United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Willie
Cox, Jr. for leave to commence this civil action without
prepayment of the required filing fee. Having reviewed the
motion, the Court finds that it should be granted.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). Additionally, for
the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss this
action without prejudice for failure to state a claim.
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 can be
granted. To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim for relief,
which is more than a "mere possibility of
misconduct." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
679 (2009). "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. at 678.
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 "accept as true the
facts alleged, but not legal conclusions or threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements." Barton v. Taber,
820 F.3d 958, 964 (8th Cir. 2016). See also
Brown v. Green Tree Servicing LLC, 820 F.3d 371, 372-73
(8th Cir. 2016) (stating that court must accept
factual allegations in complaint as true, but is not required
to "accept as true any legal conclusion couched as a
reviewing a pro se complaint under § 1915(e)(2), the
Court must give it the benefit of a liberal construction.
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). A
"liberal construction" means that if the essence of
an allegation is discernible, the district court should
construe the plaintiffs complaint in a way that permits his
or her claim to be considered within the proper legal
framework. Solomon v. Petray, 795 F.3d 777, 787
(8th Cir. 2015). However, even pro se complaints
are required to 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). See also
Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914-15 (8thCir.
2004) (stating that federal courts are not required to
"assume facts that are not alleged, just because an
additional factual allegation would have formed a stronger
complaint"). In addition, affording a pro se complaint
the benefit of a liberal construction does not mean that
procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation must be
interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed
without counsel. See McNeil v. United States, 508
U.S. 106, 113 (1993).
is a pro se litigant who brings this civil action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Docket No. 1 at 3). The complaint is
handwritten on a Court-provided form. Attached to the
complaint are two typed pages and a copy of a warning
citation issued by the Clayton Police Department. (Docket No.
1 at 7-8; Docket No. 1-1). Plaintiff names Unknown Walker as
the sole defendant. (Docket No. 1 at 2). Defendant Walker is
apparently a police officer for the City of Clayton,
Missouri. (Docket No. 1-1 at 1). Plaintiff does not indicate
the capacity in which Walker is sued.
cause of action described in the complaint arises out of a
traffic stop, and is similar to other cases filed by
plaintiff in the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Missouri. The "Statement of Claim" section
in the form complaint contains only the notation
"See attached." (Docket No. 1 at 5). The
referenced attachment contains a typewritten statement that
narrates the incident of which plaintiff complains. To better
understand plaintiffs claim, the statement will be quoted in
City of Clayton event no. 3
On October 9, 2019, at approximately 19:30, I was pulled over
by Walker. I informed him that the lights are not illegal in
the State of Missouri and that this was an illegal stop. He
(Walker) began asking me questions about the lights and I
explained to him that the lights are not illegal in the State
of Missouri. He (Walker) asked me for proof of insurance and
I gave it to him. He (Walker) then proceeded to his vehicle
and [stayed there] for [approximately] 10 minutes and exited
his vehicle and issued me a warning citation. On the citation
the offense was "Defective Equipment," facts as
follows[:] lights all over vehicle. I informed him about his
fiduciary duty and his oath[, ] and he asked me had I ever
been pulled over by the state police which he had been at one
time, I said, "no," he then proceeded to his
vehicle and I then pulled away.
(Docket No. 1 at 7-8). As a result of receiving this warning
citation, plaintiff seeks $500, 000 in compensatory damages,
$500, 000 in general damages, and $500, 000 in punitive
damages. (Docket No. 1 at 5).
brings this pro se civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 against defendant Unknown Walker. For the reasons
discussed below, plaintiffs complaint must be dismissed for
failure to state a claim.
has failed to indicate the capacity in which he is suing
Walker. A plaintiff can bring a § 1983 claim against a
public official acting in his or her official capacity, his
or her individual capacity, or both. Baker v.
Chisom,501 F.3d 920, 923 (8th Cir. 2007).
However, if a plaintiffs complaint is silent about the
capacity in which the defendant is being sued, the complaint
is interpreted as including only official capacity claims.
Id. See also Johnson v. Outboard Marine Corp., 172
F.3d 531, 535 (8th Cir. 1999) ("[I]n order to
sue a public official in his or her individual capacity, a
plaintiff must expressly and unambiguously state so in the
pleadings, otherwise, it will be assumed that the defendant
is sued only in his or her official capacity");
Artis v. Francis Howell North Band Booster Ass 'n,
Inc.,161 F.3d 1178, 1182 (8th Cir. 1998)
("If the complaint does not specifically name the
defendant in his individual capacity, it is presumed he is
sued only in his official capacity"); and Egerdahl
v. Hibbing Cmty. Coll.,72 F.3d 615, 619 (8th
Cir. 1995) ("If a plaintiffs complaint is silent about
the capacity in which she is suing the ...