Wright v. St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiffs motion to substitute parties is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part, as follows: Doc. No. 86 . a. Plaintiffs request to substitute Mike Garanzini for the previously unidentified James Doe and Andrew Crews for the previously unidentified Joseph Doe is GRANTED. b. Plaintiffs request to substitute Lt. Ruthann Alberti for the previously unidentified defendant, Jerald Doe, is GRANTED. c. Plaintiffs request to substitute Officer Eisele, f or the previously unidentified John Doe and Deputy Benjamin Goins for the previously unidentified Jackson Doe and Jefferson Doe, is DENIED as moot. d. Plaintiffs request for leave to amend the complaint to substitute Commissioner of Corrections, E ugene Stubblefield, in his official capacity, as a defendant in place of interim Commissioner Charles Bryson is GRANTED. e. Plaintiffs request to amend the complaint to substitute or join Alice Nicolas as a defendant in this action is DENIED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that all claims against Charles Bryson, who was sued only in his official capacity, are DISMISSED. Signed by District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig on 12/31/2013. (RAK)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
CEDRIC M. WRIGHT,
ST. LOUIS BOARD OF POLICE
COMMISSIONERS, et al.,
Case No. 4:12CV00107AGF
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff Cedric Wright brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging
violations of his constitutional rights stemming from his arrest and subsequent
incarceration in the City of St. Louis correctional system. Wright names as defendants
the individual members of the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners; Daniel Isom,
former Chief of Police; and Gerald Leyshock, former Captain and Commander of the
Third District (collectively, the “SLMPD Defendants”). In addition, Plaintiff names two
individual police officers, Andrew Wismar and Brian Eisele, and two unidentified police
officers, James Doe and Joseph Doe, all of whom he asserts violated his rights at the time
of his arrest. Plaintiff further names the St. Louis City Sheriff’s Department; James W.
Murphy, Sheriff of the City of St. Louis; Benjamin Goins, Jr.; and an unidentified
employee of the Sheriff’s Department designated as Jerald Doe (collectively the
“Sheriff’s Department Defendants”).1 Finally, Plaintiff names the St. Louis City Division
of Corrections; Charles Bryson, in his official capacity as interim Commissioner of the
Division of Corrections; and two unidentified employees of the Department of
Corrections, designated as Justin Doe and Jacob Doe (collectively, the “Corrections
Now before the Court is Plaintiff’s motion to substitute parties. Plaintiff seeks to
substitute Eisele and two other police officers for John Doe, James Doe and Joseph Doe,
respectively. He also seeks to substitute Deputy Goins and another employee of the
Sheriff’s Department for three of the Doe defendants: Jackson Doe, Jefferson Doe, and
Jerald Doe. In addition, Plaintiff seeks to add a deceased employee of the Sheriff’s
Department as a party and to identify the successor to Charles Bryson as the current
Commissioner of the Division of Corrections. For the reasons set forth below, the motion
to substitute parties will be granted in part and denied in part.
On January 19, 2012, Plaintiff filed a complaint under § 1983 for declaratory
judgment and damages, alleging that his August 2011 arrest and subsequent erroneous
confinement violated his constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendment. Defendants filed their answers on March 15 and April 12, 2012. On March
8, 2013, Plaintiff was granted leave to amend the complaint by interlineation. In so
Plaintiff originally named two other unidentified Sheriff’s Department employees
designating them as Jackson Doe and Jefferson Doe. In light of that substitution, these
Doe defendants are no longer parties to the suit.
doing, Plaintiff substituted Officer Eisele, one of the arresting officers, for John Doe and
Deputy Goins for Jackson Doe and Jefferson Doe.
In Counts I and III, Plaintiff alleges that Officers Wismar and Eisele, acting in their
individual and official capacities, violated his Fourth Amendment rights by arresting him
without probable cause (Count I) and by using excessive force to effect the arrest (Count
III). In these two counts Plaintiff also seeks to impose municipal liability on the named
policymakers for the SLMPD, the Sheriff’s Department, and the Division of Corrections,
acting in their official capacities.2 Plaintiff alleges that these Defendants exhibited
deliberate indifference to his rights under the Fourth Amendment because they either had
in place policies or customs that permitted the constitutional violations or failed to
establish adequate policies, procedures and training programs to avoid such violations.
In Count II, Plaintiff alleges that all Defendants, acting in their official capacities,
and some Defendants in their individual capacities, violated his rights under the
Fourteenth Amendment by misidentifying him and detaining him for 58 days on two
warrants that were not attributable to him. And finally in Count IV, Plaintiff alleges a
These “policymakers are: the SLMPD Defendants; Sheriff Murphy, acting in his
official capacity; the Sheriff’s Department, as the governing body responsible for the
training and supervision of the Sheriff’s employees; interim Commissioner Charles
Bryson, acting in his official capacity; and the Division of Corrections, as the governing
body for the City Justice Center and the Medium Security Institution. The allegations
against the Sheriff’s Department and against Murphy in his official capacity are
duplicative and will be treated here as a single set of allegations. Similarly, the
allegations against the Division of Corrections and against Bryson, in his official
capacity, are deemed to state a single claim for municipal liability against the Corrections
state law claim for false arrest and false imprisonment against Officers Wismar and
Eisele, Deputy Goins, and all of the other Doe Defendants.
In ruling on Defendants’ previous motions to dismiss, the Court dismissed all
official capacity claims against Officer Wismar in Counts I, II, and III and all individual
capacity claims against the SLMPD Defendants in Count II. The Court also dismissed all
claims against Officer Eisele, and terminated Jackson and Doe and Jefferson Doe as
In the present motion, Plaintiff seeks to substitute Eisele, an arresting officer;
Mark Garanzini, SLMPD Prisoner Processing Supervisor; and Andrew Crews, SLMPD
Commander of the Warrant Fugitive Section; for John Doe, James Doe and Joseph Doe,
respectively. He also moves to substitute Deputy Goins for Jackson Doe and Jefferson
Doe and identifies Jerald Doe as Lieutenant Ruthann Alberti (“Lt. Alberti”), the highest
ranking employee in the Sheriff’s Department Criminal Records Unit. In addition,
Plaintiff seeks to add as a party Alice Nicolas, who is deceased and was the Deputy
Sheriff for Division No. 26 at the time relevant to this suit. Finally Plaintiff moves to
substitute Eugene Stubblefield, the current Commissioner of Corrections, for Charles
Bryson, the interim Commissioner.
Defendants do not object to the substitution of Mark Garanzini, Andrew Crews,
and Lt. Alberti, for the designated Doe defendants and the Court will grant Plaintiff’s
motion with respect to these individuals. Further, Defendants do not object, nor could
they, to the substitution of Officer Eisele for John Doe and Deputy Goins for Jackson
Doe and Jefferson Doe, inasmuch as these individuals were effectively substituted for
their respective Does on March 8, 2012, when the Court permitted Plaintiff to amend his
complaint by interlineation. See Doc. Nos. 66 & 71. Subsequently, on March 14, 2013,
pursuant to the statements in Plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend by interlineation, the
Court terminated Jackson Doe and Jefferson Doe as parties because Goins had been
substituted for them. See Doc. No. 66 ¶ 8. Therefore, the Court will deny as moot the
requests to substitute Officer Eisele for John Doe and Deputy Goins for Jackson Doe and
Defendants do, however, object to the substitution of Eugene Stubblefield as the
Commissioner of Corrections in place of interim Commissioner Bryson and to the
purported substitution of Alice Nicolas for an unnamed Doe defendant.
A. Substitution of Commissioner Stubblefield
With respect to Commissioner Stubblefield, the Court notes that Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 25 governs the substitution issue here. Rule 25(d) provides that “[a]n
action does not abate when a public officer who is a party in an official capacity dies,
resigns, or otherwise ceases to hold office while the action is pending.” The interim
Commissioner is sued only in his official capacity and that claim survives to his
successor pursuant to Rule 25. See also Harris v. Hensley, No. 4:07 CV 1905 DDN,
2008 WL 4449425, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Sept. 26, 2008).3
The Court finds generally unconvincing Plaintiff’s explanation for why he was
unable to determine the identity of the Commissioner of Corrections, but also notes that
Defendants appear to have provided inaccurate information regarding Stubblefield’s title
in their answer.
B. Substitution of Alice Nicolas
The situation with respect to Nicolas is less straightforward. Plaintiff alleges in
his reply brief that Nicolas was the deputy sheriff in Division No. 26 on August 22, 2011,
when Plaintiff’s misidentification was noted by the presiding judge. Plaintiff asserts that
he did not learn that Nicolas had maintained the ledger recording the disposition of
Plaintiff’s case until he deposed Mike Guzey on February 8, 2013, and that Nicolas’
handwriting was first identified at a deposition on April 23, 2013.
Although Nicolas is deceased, Rule 25 does not apply to her because she was not
previously named as a party to this action. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(a) (by its terms
referring only to the procedure for addressing the death of a party, e.g., “[i]f a party dies
. . .”) (emphasis supplied). Moreover, in seeking to add Nicolas, Plaintiff has not
identified the Doe for whom she is substituted and is not in fact substituting Nicolas for a
previously unnamed Doe defendant. At the time that Plaintiff filed this motion the only
remaining Doe defendant identified as an employee of the Sheriff’s Department was
Jerald Doe, for whom Lt. Alberti has now been substituted. Therefore, the Court
concludes that Plaintiff actually seeks to join a new, albeit deceased, party under Rule 21.
In the alternative, the motion will be construed as a request to amend the complaint to
add Nicolas as a party under Rule 15.
Upon review of Rules 15, 21 and the Case Management Order (“CMO”) entered
in this action, the Court declines to grant leave to add Nicolas as an additional party.
Rule 15 requires the Court to “freely give leave” to amend a complaint “when justice so
requires.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). Unless there is good reason for denial, “such as
undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by
amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the non-moving party, or futility of
the amendment-leave to amend should be granted.” Brown v. Wallace, 957 F.2d 564,
566 (8th Cir. 1992). There is, however, no absolute right to amend. Williams v. Little
Rock Mun. Water Works, 21 F.3d 218, 224 (8th Cir. 1994). Whether to grant a motion
for leave to amend is within the sound discretion of the court. Id.; Brown, 957 F.2d at
565. Similarly, Rule 21 is permissive and provides for joinder of an additional party “on
just terms.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 21.
Defendants assert that Plaintiff has not established just cause for failing to request
the addition of the party until more than a year after the deadline for amendment and
joinder of additional parties set forth in the CMO. In addition, they contend that addition
of a party at this point in the litigation, with discovery closed, would be prejudicial.
Plaintiff asserts that the motion to add Nicolas as a party should be granted because
Plaintiff did not learn the identity of the sheriff’s deputy for Division No. 26 until the
deposition conducted on February 8, 2013. As discussed above, this is not a situation
where a previously named Doe has now been identified, and under Rules 15 and 21 the
request to amend shall be denied because Plaintiff has failed to offer just cause for his
delay in naming Alice Nicolas as a defendant.
The Court finds unpersuasive Plaintiff’s assertion that he could not have named
Nicolas earlier. Plaintiff says that he attempted to identify Sheriff’s personnel on duty at
the relevant time, but appears to have done so not by way of interrogatories, but rather
through a document request. Responsive documents were produced in October, 2012.
The only action Plaintiff notes that he took to further identify the individuals who
appeared in the documents was to take Mike Guzey’s deposition four months later in
February, 2013. Although Plaintiff learned of Nicolas’s identity at the deposition, he
took no steps to amend the complaint at that time. Indeed, although Plaintiff further
identified the handwriting in the ledger as Nicolas’s at a deposition in April, 2013, he did
not seek to amend or substitute parties until August 7, 2013 – just weeks before the
discovery deadline and shortly before the deadline for filing case dispositive motions.
Even if Plaintiff’s failure to use effective discovery tools to identify Sheriff’s
personnel were to be excused , the fact remains that Plaintiff was not justified in waiting
six months after Nicolas was identified to move to add her as a party. At the very least,
Plaintiff should have moved to designate the Deputy Sheriff for Division No. 26 as a Doe
defendant either after he substituted Goins for the Jackson Doe and Jefferson Doe
defendants in October of 2012 or in March of 2013 when the Court dismissed the claims
against those Doe defendants.
For these reasons, the Court concludes that Plaintiff has failed to show good cause
for a variance from the deadline set forth in the CMO and has not established a proper
basis for amending the complaint so late in the proceeding. Further, adding Nicolas at
this late date would be unduly prejudicial to Defendants. Therefore, the Court denies
Plaintiff’s motion to amend the complaint to add Nicolas as a defendant.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff’s motion to substitute parties is
GRANTED in part and DENIED in part, as follows: (Doc. No. 68)
a. Plaintiff’s request to substitute Mike Garanzini for the previously unidentified
James Doe and Andrew Crews for the previously unidentified Joseph Doe is
b. Plaintiff’s request to substitute Lt. Ruthann Alberti for the previously
unidentified defendant, Jerald Doe, is GRANTED.
c. Plaintiff’s request to substitute Officer Eisele, for the previously unidentified
John Doe and Deputy Benjamin Goins for the previously unidentified Jackson Doe and
Jefferson Doe, is DENIED as moot.
d. Plaintiff’s request for leave to amend the complaint to substitute Commissioner
of Corrections, Eugene Stubblefield, in his official capacity, as a defendant in place of
interim Commissioner Charles Bryson is GRANTED.
e. Plaintiff’s request to amend the complaint to substitute or join Alice Nicolas as
a defendant in this action is DENIED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that all claims against Charles Bryson, who was
sued only in his official capacity, are DISMISSED.
AUDREY G. FLEISSIG
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 31st day of December, 2013.
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