Watson v. St. Louis County Police Department et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER. (see order for details) IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis [ECF No. 2 ] is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel [ECF No. 4 ] is DENIED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this action is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). A separate Order of Dismissal will be filed forthwith. Signed by District Judge Catherine D. Perry on 10/07/2014. (CBL)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
ST. LOUIS COUNTY POLICE
DEPARTMENT, et al.,
No. 4:14CV1687 CDP
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. The motion will be granted. Additionally, having reviewed the case, the Court will
dismiss it under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) because it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
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 Alacks 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
Aenough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.@ Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
Plaintiff brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the St. Louis County Police
Department, USAA Garrison Insurance Company (“USAA”), and John Doe. The majority of
plaintiff’s complaint consists of incoherent and unsupported allegations concerning a conspiracy
between judges, court clerks, and police officers to deprive plaintiff of his due process rights.
More specifically, plaintiff alleges that he was “assaulted” by unknown persons who took
his truck from his driveway. Plaintiff says that an officer of the St. Louis County Police
Department “authorized and assisted the removal” of his truck, and he claims that the
Department failed to report the incident as a crime. Plaintiff also asserts that USAA breached its
contract with him when the truck was taken.
Plaintiff’s allegations are largely duplicative of the complaint he filed as Watson v.
Missouri, 4:13CV782 RWS (E.D. Mo.), which was dismissed as frivolous. In that case, plaintiff
alleged that his truck was repossessed and that USAA refused to pay for a rental car. The Court
dismissed the case without prejudice because plaintiff failed to allege that a state actor violated
his constitutional rights. Plaintiff filed an appeal, and the Court of Appeals dismissed it for want
of prosecution. Watson v. Missouri, No. 13-2567 (8th Cir. Oct. 28, 2013).
The complaint is frivolous against the St. Louis County Police Department because
police departments are not suable entities under ' 1983. Ketchum v. City of West Memphis,
Ark., 974 F.2d 81, 82 (1992). Moreover, to bring an action against St. Louis County, 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).
There are no such allegations in the complaint. So, even if the Court were to construe plaintiff’s
claims to be against St. Louis County, they would still fail to state a claim.
To state a claim under ' 1983, a plaintiff must establish that a person acting under color
of state law committed the acts which form the basis of the complaint. Parratt v. Taylor, 451
U.S. 527, 535 (1981), overruled on other grounds, Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 328
(1986). In this action, there are no allegations showing that USAA is a state actor or that it
conspired with state actors to violate plaintiff’s rights.
As a result, plaintiff’s allegations
concerning USAA fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
In general, fictitious parties may not be named as defendants in a civil action. Phelps v.
United States, 15 F.3d 735, 739 (8th Cir. 1994). An action may proceed against a party whose
name is unknown, however, if the complaint makes sufficiently specific allegations to permit the
identity of the party to be ascertained after reasonable discovery. Munz v. Parr, 758 F.2d 1254,
1257 (8th Cir. 1985). In this case, there is no information about the John Doe defendant that
might lead to his identity after reasonable discovery. Therefore, John Doe must be dismissed.
For each of these reasons, the complaint must be dismissed under § 1915(e).
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis [ECF
No. 2] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff’s motion for appointment of counsel [ECF
No. 4] is DENIED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this action is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
A separate Order of Dismissal will be filed forthwith.
Dated this 7th day of October, 2014.
CATHERINE D. PERRY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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