Phillips v. Murray et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. #2] is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel [Doc. #4] is DENIED, as moot.IT IS FURTH ER ORDERED that the Clerk shall not issue process or causeprocess to issue, because the complaint is legally frivolous and fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).A separate Order of Dismissal shall accompany this Memorandum and Order. 2 4 Signed by District Judge Jean C. Hamilton on 2/21/14. (CLA)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
CLINT PHILLIPS, III,
CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, et al.,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court upon the motion of Clint Phillips, III for leave
to commence this action without payment of the required filing fee.
consideration of plaintiff’s financial information, the Court finds that he is financially
unable to pay any portion of the filing fee. Therefore, plaintiff will be granted leave
to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Moreover, and for the
reasons stated below, the Court will dismiss this action as legally frivolous.
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.
In reviewing a pro se complaint under § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must give the
complaint the benefit of a liberal construction. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520
(1972). The Court must also weigh all factual allegations in favor of the plaintiff,
unless the facts alleged are clearly baseless. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32
Plaintiff seeks monetary relief in this action against defendants Christopher
Murray (Police Officer) and the City of St. Louis. Plaintiff alleges that Officer
Murray unconstitutionally searched, arrested, and imprisoned him on October 25,
2009, and used excessive force when making the arrest. In addition, plaintiff
summarily alleges that the City of St. Louis has a custom and practice of allowing
police officers to make warrantless arrests for misdemeanors and allows its agents to
falsely arrest and imprison citizens. Plaintiff further claims that the City of St. Louis
“tends to make and enforce laws that authorize the illegal and unreasonable seizure
of a persons [sic].”
Although plaintiff has failed to state the jurisdictional grounds for filing this
action in Federal Court, the Court will liberally construe the complaint as having been
brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
After carefully reviewing plaintiff's allegations, the Court concludes that the
complaint is legally frivolous. Plaintiff is suing Officer Murray in his official
capacity as a St. Louis City Police Officer. See Egerdahl v. Hibbing Community
College, 72 F.3d 615, 619 (8th Cir. 1995) (where a complaint is silent about
defendant’s capacity, Court must interpret the complaint as including official-capacity
claims); 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 government official in his or
her official capacity, a 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). Legal conclusions and threadbare recitals of
the elements of a cause of action that are supported by mere conclusory statements
are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1950-51.
The instant complaint does not contain any non-conclusory allegations that a policy
or custom of a government entity was responsible for the alleged violations of
plaintiff’s constitutional rights. As such, the Court will dismiss this action as legally
frivolous and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted with regard
to both Christopher Murray and the City of St. Louis.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis [Doc. #2] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for appointment of
counsel [Doc. #4] is DENIED, as moot.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall not issue process or cause
process to issue, because the complaint is legally frivolous and fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
A separate Order of Dismissal shall accompany this Memorandum and Order.
Dated this 21st day of February, 2014.
/s/ Jean C. Hamilton
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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