United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes 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. (Docket No.
2). 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 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 action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. (Docket No. 1 at 3). The sole defendant
named in the complaint is the City of Ferguson, Missouri.
(Docket No. 1 at 2). The complaint is handwritten on a
Court-provided form. Attached to the complaint is a
forty-three page attachment that includes purported legal
definitions, citations to caselaw, a post from a website
called "The Real Truth," and several pictures.
(Docket No. 1-1).
cause of action appears to arise 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." Within the attachment, there is a document
titled "Event," which appears to narrate the
incident of which plaintiff complains. To better understand
plaintiffs claim, this will be quoted in its entirety,
without corrections to spelling or grammar:
Parked on QT (Quick Trip) Gas Station Lot when Micheal
Anellopulled up behind me and waited for
approximately ten (10) minutes, he then exited his vehicle
and shined his light in my vehicle. I rolled down my window
and Officer Micheal Anello said, "the reason I pulled
you over," and I said, "pulled me over, how could
you pull me over when I am parked?" I also informed him
that this is private property and not a public street. He
then mentioned that my lights were illegal. I informed him
that they are not and asked him to issue the ticket. He asked
for my drivers license and insurance. I gave him the drivers
license, but did not give him insurance card. The accused
went back to his vehicle and stayed for approximately ten
(10) minutes and then another cohert (a black man) vehicle
pulled up in front of me and the other cohert exited his
vehicle and walked past my vehicle to Anello's vehicle
and spoke with Anello while he sat in his vehicle. Then
Anello exited his vehicle issued me the tickets and went to
his vehicle and drove away.
(Docket No. 1-1 at 31-32). Other documents in the attachment
present the assertion that plaintiff has a right not to be
stopped in his vehicle unless he has committed a crime, which
he defines as "damage to person, damage to property...or
witnessing a felony." (Docket No. 1-1 at 32-33). Indeed,
plaintiff proposes that "traffic court is a
fiction" and that "[p]olice officers must be
amenable to you at all time." (Docket No. 1-1 at 40).
is seeking $1.5 million in general damages, $1.5 million in
actual damages, and $1.5 million in punitive damages. (Docket
No. 1 at 5).
brings this pro se civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983, alleging that the City of Ferguson is liable for
violating his constitutional rights during a traffic stop.
For the reasons discussed below, the complaint must be
dismissed because plaintiff has failed to state a municipal
liability claim against Ferguson.
governing body such as Ferguson can be sued directly under
§ 1983. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of
City of New York,436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978). In order to
prevail on this type of claim, the plaintiff must establish
the municipality's liability for the alleged conduct.
Kelly v. City of Omaha, Neb.,813 F.3d 1070, 1075
(8th Cir. 2016). Such liability may attach if the
constitutional violation "resulted from (1) an official
municipal policy, (2) an unofficial custom, or (3) a
deliberately indifferent failure to train or supervise."
Mick v. Raines,883 F.3d 1075, 1079 (8th
Cir. 2018). See also Marsh v. Phelps Cty., 902 F.3d
745, 751 (8th Cir. 2018) (recognizing "claims
challenging an unconstitutional policy or ...