United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss, [Doc. No. 7]. Plaintiff opposes the Motion. For the
reasons set forth below, the Motion is granted.
and Procedural Background
action was filed February 5, 2019 alleging Defendants Julian
Bush, Lyda Krewson, and John W. Hayden, Jr. violated
Plaintiff's First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment
rights. Plaintiff claims officers of the St. Louis
Metropolitan Police Department arrested her and charged her
with resisting arrest. She further contends that she was
forced to sign a civil liability release agreement by a
prosecutor in the City Counselor's Office. The release
agreement was allegedly in exchange for a reduction of the
resisting arrest charge.
Complaint asserts three claims: deprivation of rights to
petition the courts in violation of the First Amendment
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against all defendants on
behalf of a putative class (Count I); declaratory judgment to
void the blanket release contracts based on a violation of
public policy against all defendants on behalf of the
putative class (Count II); and deprivation of civil rights in
violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments against
Defendant Hayden on behalf of Plaintiff Mahdi individually.
The Complaint names Defendant Bush in his individual and
official capacities. Defendants Krewson and Hayden are sued
in their official capacities only. Plaintiff voluntarily
dismissed Defendant Bush in his individual capacity on August
1, 2019, as a result, all defendants are now sued in their
official capacities only.
November 14, 2019, this matter was consolidated with
White v. City of St. Louis, et al., No. 4:18-cv-518
SRC, Scruggs v. City of St. Louis, et al., No.
4:19-cv-00948 RWS, and Ball-Bey v. Chandler, et al.,
No. 4:18-cv-01364 SPM [Doc. No. 21]. After consolidation,
Judge Clark entered a Memorandum and Order in the instant
case. Judge Clark dismissed Count III of Plaintiff's
Complaint against John W. Hayden, Jr. in his official
capacity. Judge Clark then unconsolidated these cases.
Memorandum and Order, Judge Clark set out the background,
standard of review, and Plaintiff's allegations. The
Court will reiterate the alleged facts that are applicable to
deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a
court assumes all facts in the complaint to be true and
construes all reasonable inferences from those facts in the
light most favorable to the complainant. Morton v.
Becker, 793 F.2d 185, 187 (8th Cir. 1986). In doing so,
however, a court need not accept as true wholly conclusory
allegations, Hanten v. Sch. Dist. of Riverview
Gardens, 183 F.3d 799, 805 (8th Cir. 1999), or legal
conclusions drawn by the pleader from the facts alleged,
Westcott v. City of Omaha, 901 F.2d 1486, 1488 (8th
Cir. 1990). A court may consider the complaint, matters of
public record, orders, materials embraced by the complaint,
and exhibits attached to the complaint in deciding a motion
to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Porous Media Corp. v.
Pall Corp., 186 F.3d 1077, 1079 (8th Cir. 1999).
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Although a complaint
need not contain “detailed factual allegations, ”
it must contain facts with enough specificity “to raise
a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Id. at 555. “Threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, ” will not pass muster under
Twombly. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In
sum, this standard “calls for enough fact[s] to raise a
reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of
[the claim].” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.
Constitution protects every citizen's right to seek
redress in the courts. Christopher v. Harbury, 536
U.S. 403, 413-15, 122 S.Ct. 2179, 153 L.Ed.2d 413 (2002).
“This right applies not only to the actual denial of
access to the courts, but also to situations in which the
plaintiff has been denied meaningful access by some
impediment put up by the defendant.” Scheeler v.
City of St. Cloud, 402 F.3d 826, 830 (8th Cir.2005).
Section 1983 provides a remedy for an individual who has been
denied access to the courts. Id.
establish a claim that a government official violated the
plaintiff's constitutional right to access the courts,
the plaintiff must make three showings. First, the plaintiff
must have a viable cause of action that she could have raised
but for the government official's obstructive actions.
Harbury, 536 U.S. at 415-16. Second, a state actor
must have obstructed the plaintiff from meaningfully
accessing the courts. Id. at 413-14. Third, the
state actor must have acted recklessly or intentionally.
Scheeler, 402 F.3d at 830-31.
proceed with an access-to-the-courts claim, Plaintiff must
explain how she was “actually injured” with
regard to a “nonfrivolous and arguably meritorious
underlying legal claim.” White v. Kautzky, 494
F.3d 677, 680 (8th Cir. 2007) (citing Harbury, 536
U.S. at 413. A plaintiff alleging denial of access to the
courts must “state the underlying claim in accordance
with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), just as if it were
being independently pursued, ” and then prove the
claim. Harbury, 536 U.S. at 417-18.
case now stands, the only claims remaining are Counts I and
II, as Count III has been dismissed. These claims are brought
against the City of St. Louis. Plaintiff claims within the
allegations of her Complaint that she has been subjected to
numerous civil rights violations, however, it appears that
the only “underlying” claim Plaintiff alleges to
support her denial of access to the court claim is the
excessive force claim against the City, which does not ...