Wilson v. Pfaff et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis [ECF No. 2] is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiffs motion for appointment of counsel [ECF No. 4] is DENIED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this action is DISMISSED without prejudice. An Order of Dismissal will be filed separately. Signed by District Judge Ronnie L. White on 2/6/2017. (JMC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
THOMAS D. WILSON,
JOHN PFAFF, et al.,
No. 1:17-CV-18 ACL
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this civil action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and RICO , 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-68. The motion is granted. Additionally, this action is
dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).
Standard of Review
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), 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 for relief, a complaint must plead more than "legal conclusions" and
"(t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action (that are] supported by mere
conclusory statements." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S . 662, 678 (2009).
A plaintiff must
demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, which is more than a "mere possibility of misconduct."
Id. at 679. "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 on its judicial experience and
common sense. Id. at 679.
Plaintiff brings this action against several private actors and state officials. He alleges
that the defendants who ran the Ste. Genevieve Lot Owners Association mishandled its funds,
illegally changed deeds of covenants, harassed property owners, allowed tax officials to assess
his property, did not allow him to serve on the board, and drove by his house repeatedly. He also
claims they conspired with the defendant state officials to entrap him and set up a "kangaroo
court" against him.
Plaintiff says the defendant state officials arrested him without cause, altered court
records regarding his DWI convictions, withheld medications from prisoners, sold his property at
a tax auction, and harassed property owners.
Almost all of plaintiffs allegations are legally frivolous because they are conclusory and
fail to allege facts, which if proved, would entitle him to relief.
"Private actors may incur section 1983 liability only if they are willing participants in a
joint action with public servants acting under color of state law." Johnson v. Outboard Marine
Corp., 172 F.3d 531, 536 (8th Cir.1999). "[A] plaintiff seeking to hold a private party liable
under § 1983 must allege, at the very least, that there was a mutual understanding, or a meeting
of the minds, between the private party and the state actor." Mershon v. Beasley, 994 F.2d 449,
451 (8th Cir. 1993). The facts alleged with respect to a conspiracy must be specific and may not
be merely conclusory. See White v. Walsh, 649 F.2d 560, 561 (8th Cir. 1981). Here, plaintiff
fails to allege facts sufficient to give rise to the inference that any private party defendants came
to a mutual understanding with any state actors to violate his constitutional rights. Therefore, his
§ 1983 claims against the private actors do not rise to the level of plausibility required by Iqbal.
Plaintiff did not specify whether he is suing defendants in their official or individual
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 or her official
capacity is the equivalent of naming the government entity that employs the official. Will v.
Michigan Dep 't of State Police , 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). To state a claim against a municipality
or a municipal official in his or her official capacity, plaintiff must allege that a policy or custom
of the government entity is responsible for the alleged constitutional violation. Monell v. Dep 't
of Social Services, 436 U.S . 658, 690-91 (1978). The instant complaint does not contain any
allegations that a policy or custom of a government entity was responsible for the alleged
violations of plaintiff's constitutional rights.
So, his claims against the city and county
employees are frivolous. Moreover, his official-capacity claims against the state officials are
barred by sovereign immunity. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165-66 (1985); Murphy
v. Arkansas, 127 F.3d 750, 754 (8th Cir. 1997). As a result, the complaint fails to state a claim
under § 1983 .
RICO "makes it ' unlawful for any person employed by or associated with any enterprise .
. . to conduct or participate . .. in the conduct of such enterprise' s affairs' through the
commission of two or more statutorily defined crimes-which RICO calls 'a pattern of
racketeering activity."' Cedric Kushner Promotions, Ltd. v. King, 533 U.S . 158, 160 (2001)
(citing 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c)). "Racketeering activity" is a violation of any of the enumerated
federal offenses listed in 18 U.S.C. § 1961(1). Plaintiff has not alleged facts showing that
defendants violated any of the provisions listed in § 1961 (1 ). Consequently, his claims under
RICO are legally frivolous.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs motion to proceed in forma pauperis [ECF
No. 2] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiffs motion for appointment of counsel [ECF
No. 4] is DENIED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this action is DISMISSED without prejudice.
An Order of Dismissal will be filed separately.
RONNIE L. WHITE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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