Stiriling et al v. St. Louis County Police Department et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs motions to proceed in forma pauperis [Docs. 2-3] are GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiffs shall file an amended complaint no later than thirty days from the date of this Memorandum a nd Order. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that if plaintiffs fail to timely file an amended complaint, the Court may dismiss this action without further proceedings. 3 2 ( Response to Court due by 1/13/2013.) Signed by District Judge Jean C. Hamilton on 12/13/12. (CLA)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
JAMISON STIRILING, et al.,
ST. LOUIS COUNTY POLICE
DEPARTMENT, et al.,
No. 4:12CV2279 JCH
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on plaintiffs Jamison Stiriling and Thomas
Knibb’s motions 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 motions, the Court finds that plaintiffs are financially unable to pay
any portion of the filing fee. As a result, plaintiffs will be granted leave to proceed in
forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Furthermore, after reviewing the
complaint, the Court will direct plaintiffs to submit an amended complaint.
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); Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31
(1992). 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). A complaint fails to state a claim if it does not plead “enough facts to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007).
Plaintiffs bring this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Named as defendants are the
St. Louis County Police Department (the “Department”); Robert Rinck (Police
Officer); Steven Schue (same); John Does 1-7 (same); and Robert Fox, Jr. (Associate
Plaintiffs brought a previous civil suit against the Department and Rinck in this
Court. See Stiriling v. St. Louis County Police Dept., 4:11CV1932 AGF (E.D. Mo.).
Plaintiffs alleged that Rinck and a St. Louis County Building Inspector engaged in a
pattern and practice of harassment and intimidation relating to their alleged attempts
to evict them from multiple residences in St. Louis County. Plaintiffs filed for
temporary injunctive relief in that action, based on plaintiffs’ allegations on illegal
searches into their premises. The parties reached an agreement, and the Court denied
the motion as moot. The case is ongoing.
Plaintiffs allege in the instant complaint that “immediately after the filing of [the
above] Civil Rights action . . . and continuing to the present date the Defendants began
to engage in a pattern of retaliatory harassment of the Plaintiffs.” Plaintiffs claim that
“shortly after being advised [of the temporary restraining order] hearing,” several of the
John Doe defendants surrounded their house, “pound[ed] on the doors and windows,
and demanded entry into [the] residence.” Plaintiffs claim that Thomas Knibb was
inside the residence and that he did not come out because he was “[afraid] of unlawful
detention, search, or assault]” by the John Doe defendants.
Plaintiffs allege that the John Doe defendants remained positioned around the
residence such that Thomas Knibb and Jacob Knibb were unable to attend the
temporary restraining order hearing for “fear” of being detained by the officers.
Plaintiffs claim that Jaqualine Perkins attempted to pick up Thomas and Jacob
Knibb and take them to the hearing. Ms. Perkins left the residence without them.
Plaintiffs allege John Does 1 and 2 stopped her vehicle shortly after that.
Plaintiffs allege that
on January 23, 2012 Defendant Robert Rinck and Defendant Steven
Schue forced, intimidated, encouraged and/or coached Plaintiff Thomas
Knibb in to writing multiple discarded, and one false final statement in
exchange for promised police protection or action by St. Louis County
Police, Defendant Robert Rinck and Defendant Steven Schue.
That on or about January 23, 2012 Defendant Steven Schue placed a
wanted for questioning warrant in the St. Louis County Police computer
in exchange for such false statement given by Plaintiff Thomas Knibb.
That on or about January 23, 2012 Defendant Schue entered a malicious
wanted for questioning charging Plaintiff with trespassing and simulating
the service process.
That such wanted for questioning remained active for more than six
That in late August or early September of 2012 Plaintiff Jamison Stiriling
surrender to the St. Louis County Justice to address such wanted for
That warrant staff notified Defendant Schue as soon as Plaintiff Jamison
That Defendant Steven Schue was aware he had 24 hours to question
Plaintiff Jamison Stiriling, obtain a warrant for his arrest, or cause him to
be released, but waited 26 hours before coming to the St. Louis County
Justice Center and completing the necessary paperwork that would allow
the Plaintiff to be release.
That Defendant Officer Schue purposely delayed going to the St. Louis
County Justice Center to have Plaintiff Jamison Stiriling release in
retaliation for Plaintiff Jamison Stiriling filing a Civil Rights action against
Defendant Robert Rinck and other St. Louis County Police Officers and
That while the Plaintiff was in the St. Louis County Justice Center
Defendant Officer Schue contacted the St. Louis County Justice Center
and advised the jail officials Plaintiff Jamison Stiriling has a
That while Plaintiff Jamison Stiriling was in the St. Louis County Justice
Center Defendant Steven Schue maliciously and vindictively took actions
to make the conditions of Plaintiff’s confinement worse.
Plaintiff’s claim that defendant John Doe 3 stopped plaintiff Thomas Knibb’s
vehicle without probable cause and searched it without consent. Plaintiffs say that on
August 21, 2012, John Doe 4 arrested Knibb on an outstanding warrant and searched
his vehicle without consent.
Plaintiffs assert that on October 16, 2012, John Does 5, 6, and 7 followed them
home, stopped them in their driveway, pulled them from their vehicle, and searched
their vehicle without their consent.
Plaintiffs maintain that in August or September 2012 defendant Robert Fox, Jr.,
advised the Court that plaintiff Stiriling had a communicable disease.
Plaintiffs believe that the motions Fox has filed in the previous civil litigation
before this Court have caused the St. Louis police officers to retaliate against them by
taking the action listed above. Plaintiffs seek monetary damages.
Plaintiffs’ claim against the Department is legally frivolous because it is not a
suable entity. Ketchum v. City of West Memphis, Ark., 974 F.2d 81, 81 (8th Cir.
1992) (departments or subdivisions of local government are “not juridical entities
suable as such.”); Catlett v. Jefferson County, 299 F. Supp. 2d 967, 968-69 (E.D. Mo.
Plaintiffs’ only allegation against Rinck is that he and Schue bargained with
Thomas Knibb to have Knibb write a “false final statement in exchange for promised
police protection or action by St. Louis County Police, [Rinck], and [Schue.]” The
nature of the alleged statement is unstated. This allegation does not rise to the level of
a constitutional violation. As a result, plaintiffs’ claim against Rinck is legally
Plaintiffs’ allegations against Schue regarding the placement of a warrant,
causing Stiriling to be held for 26 hours, and causing Stiriling’s conditions of
confinement at the St. Louis County Justice Center are so vague and conclusory as to
fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Plaintiff’s allegations against Fox, i.e., that he notified the Court that Stiriling had
a communicable disease, do not state a claim for relief under § 1983.
Plaintiffs’ claims against the John Doe defendants state a claim under § 1983 for
retaliation. To succeed on his § 1983 retaliation claim, plaintiff must prove that he
engaged in protected activity and that defendants, to retaliate for the protected activity,
took adverse action against plaintiff that would chill a person of ordinary firmness from
engaging in that activity. See Revels v. Vincenz, 382 F.3d 870, 876 (8th Cir.2004),
cert. denied, 546 U.S. 860 (2005). Plaintiffs allegations that the John Doe defendants
surrounded their house and harassed them for having filed a civil action in this Court
sufficiently states such a claim. However, the Court cannot serve these defendants
because their identities are unknown.
The complaint is subject to dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). Because
plaintiff is proceeding pro se, however, the Court will allow plaintiff to file an amended
complaint. Plaintiff shall have thirty days from the date of this Order to file an
amended complaint. Plaintiff is warned that the filing of an amended complaint
replaces the original complaint, and claims that are not realleged are deemed
abandoned. E.g., In re Wireless Telephone Federal Cost Recovery Fees Litigation, 396
F.3d 922, 928 (8th Cir. 2005). If plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint within
thirty days, the Court will dismiss this action without prejudice.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs’ motions to proceed in forma
pauperis [Docs. 2-3] are GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiffs shall file an amended complaint
no later than thirty days from the date of this Memorandum and Order.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that if plaintiffs fail to timely file an amended
complaint, the Court may dismiss this action without further proceedings.
Dated this 13th day of December, 2012.
/s/Jean C. Hamilton
JEAN C. HAMILTON
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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