Graham v. St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, with regard to plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment claims for police brutality and failure to provide medical assistance against defendants Matthew Manley and Gregory Klipsch in their individual cap acities, the Clerk shall issue process or cause process to be issued on the amended complaint. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that defendants Matthew Manley and Gregory Klipsch shall reply to plaintiff's claims within the time provided by the applicabl e provisions of Rule 12(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, as to defendants St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, Shaviste Grandberry, Brandon Wyms, and John Doe, the Clerk shall not issue process or cause pr ocess to issue, because the amended complaint is legally frivolous and fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B). IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to the Court's differentiated case management system, this case is assigned to Track 5B (standard prisoner actions). A separate Order of Partial Dismissal shall accompany this Memorandum and Order. Signed by District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig on 3/21/16. (KXS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
ST. LOUIS METROPOLITAN
POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al.,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on review of plaintiff’s amended complaint [Doc.
14]. For the following reasons, the Court finds that process should issue with respect to
plaintiff’s Fourteenth Amendment claims for police brutality and failure to provide
medical assistance against defendants Matthew Manley and Gregory Klipsch in their
As to all other defendants and claims, this action will be
dismissed 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 may 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 against a defendant who is immune from
such relief. An action is frivolous if Ait lacks an arguable basis in either law or in fact.@
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989). An action fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted if it does not plead Aenough facts to state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face.@ Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). 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, 556
U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009). These include Alegal conclusions@ and A[t]hreadbare recitals of
the elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere conclusory statements.@
Id. Second, the Court must determine whether the complaint states a plausible claim for
relief. Id. at 680-82. This is a Acontext-specific task that requires the reviewing court
to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.@ Id. at 681. The plaintiff is
required to plead facts that show more than the Amere possibility of misconduct.@ Id.
The Court must review the factual allegations in the complaint Ato determine if they
plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.@ Id. at 681-82. When faced with alternative
explanations for the alleged misconduct, the Court may exercise its judgment in
determining whether plaintiff=s proffered conclusion is the most plausible or whether it is
more likely that no misconduct occurred. Id.
Moreover, 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, 32-33
The Amended Complaint
Plaintiff, an inmate at the Saint Genevieve Detention Center, seeks monetary relief
in this action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ' 1983. Named as defendants are the St.
Louis Metropolitan Police Department and St. Louis police officers Matthew Manley,
Gregory Klipsch, Brandon Wyms, Shaviste Grandberry, and John Doe. As more fully
discussed below, plaintiff is alleging that he sustained “[p]ersonal injuries from police
brutality [that] occurred on September 3, 2014, during an unlawful arrest [without a]
warrant.” Plaintiff is suing defendants in both their official and individual capacities for
the violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. The Court will liberally construe these
claims as Fourteenth Amendment violations, given that plaintiff was a pretrial detainee
when the alleged brutality took place. See Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 n. 16
A. Official Capacity Claims against All Defendant Police Officers
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
The Court notes that the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has
"repeatedly applied the deliberate indifference standard of Estelle to pretrial detainee
claims that prison officials unconstitutionally ignored a serious medical need or failed to
protect the detainee from a serious risk of harm." Butler v. Fletcher, 465 F.3d 340, 344
(8th Cir. 2006).
government entity is responsible for the alleged constitutional violation.
Dep=t of Soc. Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978). The instant amended complaint
does not contain any allegations that a policy or custom of a government entity was
responsible for the alleged violations of plaintiff=s constitutional rights. As a result,
plaintiff’s official capacity claims are legally frivolous and will be dismissed, without
B. Individual Capacity Claims against Manley and Klipsch
Liberally construing the amended complaint, plaintiff claims that defendants
Matthew Manley and Gregory Klipsch illegally arrested him on September 3, 2014, while
plaintiff was on the front porch of a family friend’s house. In the course of the arrest,
Manley allegedly assaulted plaintiff “by repeatedly punching and kicking [him],”
resulting in serious physical injuries for which Manley allegedly failed to afford plaintiff
proper medical attention.
In addition, plaintiff alleges that defendant Klipsch
“punch[ed] the plaintiff unconscious and excessively taser[ed] the plaintiff from the back
of his head for long periods of time and threaten[ed] further abuse by assault of the
plaintiff [if he] did not participate in giving any whereabouts of criminal activity.” The
Court finds that plaintiff has sufficiently alleged Fourteenth Amendment violations
against Manley and Klipsch in their individual capacities.
In addition to the aforementioned Fourteenth Amendment claims, plaintiff
summarily states that he was attacked because of his race, that Klipsch “showed elements
of fraud,” and that Manley “tried to mislead the proceedings by multiple documents,
statements and testimonies in trial also which were clearly inconsistent to each other and
tampered with evidence by not properly requesting a crime scene investigator, to and
which concealed is unlawful and tends affirmatively to suppress of the truth such conduct
is designated active concealment.” These convoluted allegations fail to state § 1983
claims and are, at best, mere legal conclusions or threadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action, which are not entitled to the assumption of truth. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
677-78; Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004) (although liberally construed,
pro se complaint must still allege sufficient facts to support claim advanced); see also
Creason v. City of Washington, 435 F.3d 820, 823 (8th Cir. 2006) (as a threshold matter, to
state an equal protection claim, plaintiff must have established he was treated differently
from others similarly situated).
C. Individual Capacity Claims against Grandberry, Wyms, and Doe
Plaintiff states that defendants Shaviste Grandberry, Brandon Wyms, and John
Doe were “assigned to transport” him following the September 3 arrest and alleged
assault. Plaintiff conclusorily states, “Active concealment, conspiracy and corruption.”
He summarily alleges that these police officers committed “[a]ctionable negligence for
trying to conceal the injuries of plaintiff and wipe away the blood” at the Union
Boulevard substation on September 3, 2014. Plaintiff complains that the officers “failed
to perform a legal duty” and were negligent in “not reporting the blood loss or the truth
which the neglect took place on camera.” He further states that “concealment became a
fraud and cause[d] the plaintiff to be assaulted, etc.”
Plaintiff’s claims are legally frivolous and fail to state a § 1983 claim. Mere
negligence does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation.
See Daniels v.
Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 328 (1986); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976) (mere
negligence is not cognizable as Eighth Amendment violation); Morton v. Becker, 793
F.2d 185, 188 n.3 (8th Cir. 1986) (Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause is not
implicated by state official=s negligent act causing unintended loss of or injury to life,
liberty, or property).
Moreover, plaintiff's conclusory allegations are insufficient to support a
To properly plead a claim for civil conspiracy under § 1983, a
plaintiff must include factual allegations showing a “meeting of the minds” concerning
unconstitutional conduct; although an express agreement between the purported
conspirators need not be alleged, there must be something more than the summary
allegation of a conspiracy before such a claim can withstand a motion to dismiss. See
Mershon v. Beasely, 994 F.2d 449, 451 (8th Cir. 1993); see also Murray v. Lene, 595
F.3d 868, 870 (8th Cir. 2010) (conspiracy claim under § 1983 alleging violation of
constitutional rights requires allegations of specific facts tending to show meeting of
minds among alleged conspirators). The amended complaint lacks such allegations.
For these reasons, this action will be dismissed, without prejudice, as to
defendants Shaviste Grandberry, Brandon Wyms, and John Doe.
D. Claims against the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department
Plaintiff alleges that the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department was responsible
for “the overall operation” of the defendant police officers in this case.
departments, however, are not suable entities under ' 1983. Ketchum v. City of West
Memphis, Ark., 974 F.2d 81, 82 (8th Cir. 1992); see also De La Garza v. Kandiyohi Co.
Jail, 2001 WL 987542, at *1 (8th Cir. 2001) (sheriff's departments and police
departments are not usually considered legal entities subject to suit under ' 1983).
Moreover, the doctrine of respondeat superior is not applicable in § 1983 actions. See
Boyd v. Knox, 47 F.3d 966, 968 (8th Cir. 1995). As such, this action is legally frivolous
and will be dismissed, without prejudice, as to defendant St. Louis Metropolitan Police
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, with regard to plaintiff=s Fourteenth
Amendment claims for police brutality and failure to provide medical assistance against
defendants Matthew Manley and Gregory Klipsch in their individual capacities, the Clerk
shall issue process or cause process to be issued on the amended complaint.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that defendants Matthew Manley and Gregory
Klipsch shall reply to plaintiff=s claims within the time provided by the applicable
provisions of Rule 12(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, as to defendants St. Louis Metropolitan
Police Department, Shaviste Grandberry, Brandon Wyms, and John Doe, the Clerk shall
not issue process or cause process to issue, because the amended complaint is legally
frivolous and fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See 28 U.S.C. '
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to the Court's differentiated case
management system, this case is assigned to Track 5B (standard prisoner actions).
A separate Order of Partial Dismissal shall accompany this Memorandum and
Dated this 21st day of March, 2016.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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