Griffin v. Francis Howell School District et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. # 4 ] is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall not issue process or cause process to issue upon the complaint because the comp laint is legally frivolous or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or both. An appropriate Order of Dismissal shall accompany this Memorandum and Order. Signed by District Judge Catherine D. Perry on Spetember 5, 2012. (BRP)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
BRIANNA J. GRIFFIN,
FRANCIS HOWELL HIGH
SCHOOL, et al.,
No. 4:12CV821 CDP
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court upon the motion of plaintiff for leave to
commence this action without prepayment of the filing fee pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915. Upon consideration of the financial information provided with the motion, the
Court finds that plaintiff is financially unable to pay any portion of the filing fee. As
a result, plaintiff will be granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915. Additionally, the Court has reviewed the complaint and will dismiss it
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must dismiss a complaint filed
in forma pauperis if the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. An action is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis in either law or fact.”
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989).
An action is malicious if it is
undertaken for the purpose of harassing the named defendants and not for the purpose
of vindicating a cognizable right. Spencer v. Rhodes, 656 F. Supp. 458, 461-63
(E.D.N.C. 1987), aff’d 826 F.2d 1059 (4th Cir. 1987).
To determine whether an action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted, the Court must engage in a two-step inquiry. First, the Court must identify the
allegations in the complaint that are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1950-51 (2009). These include “legal conclusions” and
“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere
conclusory statements.” Id. at 1949. Second, the Court must determine whether the
complaint states a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 1950-51. This is a “context-specific
task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense.” Id. at 1950. The plaintiff is required to plead facts that show more than the
“mere possibility of misconduct.” Id. The Court must review the factual allegations in
the complaint “to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.” Id. at
1951. When faced with alternative explanations for the alleged misconduct, the Court
may exercise its judgment in determining whether plaintiff’s conclusion is the most
plausible or whether it is more likely that no misconduct occurred. Id. at 1950, 51-52.
Plaintiff, an African American, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
alleged false arrest, which she claims was purportedly done in violation of her rights
under the Fourteenth Amendment. Named as defendants are Francis Howell School
District, the Juvenile Justice Center and the St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department
(the “Department”). Although not specifically named in the caption of the complaint,
plaintiff also makes allegations in her pleading against the following individuals: Josh
Hoeing (Juvenile Officer), Dawn Hull (Juvenile Officer), Amy Johnston (Principal), Art
Goebal (Principal), Brian Fisher (Science Teacher) and Jeff Warner (Dare
Plaintiff alleges that on April 11, 2006, she was falsely accused of, and then
arrested for, dealing drugs. Plaintiff was a minor at that time, and she was arrested at
her school, Francis Howell Middle School. Plaintiff claims that she was falsely accused
of dealing drugs by three Caucasian school officials, Johnston, Goebal and Fisher, along
with Deputy Warner. Plaintiff claims that two Caucasian students who were found with
drugs at the school were not arrested; thus, plaintiff believes that her arrest was the
result of race discrimination in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff also
believes that the arrest was done in retaliation for her complaints about Warner’s prior
inappropriate behavior towards her.
Plaintiff states that Warner never gave her a Miranda warning, and she asserts
that he later made a false statement to the court that drugs found on other students
belonged to her.
Plaintiff complains that Hoeing received her at the Justice Center even though he
knew that the charges against her were falsified. She claims that Hoeing also sent false
information about her to the courts, and she claims that defendant Hull denied her
adequate medical care during her stay at the Justice Center.
Plaintiff seeks monetary relief in this action against defendants.
This is not the first time plaintiff has brought this case before the Court. Upon
review, the Court notes that the instant complaint contains assertions that are identical
to those plaintiff set forth in six cases previously filed either by plaintiff, or on her
Plaintiff, by and through her next friend and mother Elizabeth McCray, filed
lawsuits based on the April 11, 2006, events on two previous occasions in 2008. On
February 1, 2008, she filed a § 1983 suit against the defendants named in this action as
well as the School District, the Juvenile Justice Center, various minor children, school
administrators, juvenile officers, attorneys, and judges. McCray v. N.D.B., 4:08CV198
CDP (E.D. Mo.). The Court dismissed that case without prejudice on March 7, 2008,
because the complaint did not comply with this Court's local rules or the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure.
On August 8, 2008, plaintiff filed a § 1983 suit against the School District, the
St. Charles County Sheriff, and the Juvenile Justice Center. B.J.G. v. Francis Howell
School Dist., 4:08CV1178 CDP (E.D. Mo.). On May 6, 2010, the Court dismissed that
case with prejudice after finding that the School District and the Juvenile Justice Center
were not proper defendants and, additionally, that the complaint failed to state a claim
against the Sheriff. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently affirmed this
Court's ruling. B.J.G. v. St. Charles County Sheriff, No. 10-2060, slip op. (8th Cir. Nov.
Additionally, on November 9, 2011, plaintiff filed three separate lawsuits based
on the April 11, 2006, events. In Griffin v. Francis Howell School Dist., 4:11CV1966
CDP (E.D. Mo.), plaintiff brought suit against the School District and three school
officials for their alleged role in her detention. In Griffin v. St. Charles County Sheriff's
Dept., 4:11CV1967 CDP (E.D. Mo.), she brought suit against the Sheriff's Department
and a Deputy Sheriff for their part in the alleged events. And in Griffin v. Juvenile
Justice Center, 4:11CV1968 CDP (E.D. Mo.), plaintiff brought suit against the Justice
Center and two of its employees for their part. All three cases were dismissed by this
Court as legally frivolous and/or for failure to state a claim, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B) on January 19, 2012.
The named defendants in the instant case are identical to those named in the last
three cases filed by plaintiff, which this Court dismissed as legally frivolous and/or for
failure to state a claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). As such, the instant complaint
will be dismissed as frivolous and/or for failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B).
See Cooper v. Delo, 997 F.2d 376, 377 (8th Cir.1993) (noting that a § 1915(e) dismissal
has res judicata effect on future in forma pauperis petitions).
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis
[Doc. #4] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall not issue process or cause
process to issue upon the complaint because the complaint is legally frivolous or fails
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or both.
An appropriate Order of Dismissal shall accompany this Memorandum and Order.
Dated this 5th day of September, 2012.
CATHERINE D. PERRY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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