Faria v. McCarrick et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 15 ) is DENIED IN PART AND HELD IN ABEYANCE IN PART. Defendants motion is denied without prejudice to the extent it seeks dismissal for lack of a short and plain s tatement under Rule 8(a)(2). To the extent it seeks dismissal of Count V for failure to state a claim, the motion will be held in abeyance pending the Supreme Courts resolution of Manuel v. Joliet, 14- 9496 (U.S.). IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the parties are directed to notify the Court within ten (10) days of the United States Supreme Courts resolution of Manuel v. Joliet, 14-9496 (U.S.). Signed by District Judge John A. Ross on 1/3/17. (JAB)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
RUSSELL SCOTT FARIA,
RYAN J. McCARRICK, et al.,
Case No. 4:16-cv-01175-JAR
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is pending before the Court on Defendants Ryan McCarrick, Michael Merkel,
and Patrick Harney’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 15); Defendants Leah Askey and Lincoln County,
Missouri have joined in the motion (Docs. 21, 24). In his 83-page amended complaint, Plaintiff
Russell Scott Faria seeks redress under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on Defendants’ allegedly
unconstitutional conduct during their investigation of, and prosecution of Plaintiff for, the
December 2011 murder of Plaintiff’s wife, Betsy Faria (Doc. 7). As relevant to this motion,
Plaintiff’s complaint, as amended, purports to assert a claim of malicious prosecution, under
either the Fourth or Fourteenth Amendment, against Defendants McCarrick, Merkel, and Harney
(“Count V”). More specifically, in Count V, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants McCarrick,
Merkel, and Harney maliciously instituted a murder charge against him without probable cause
that he had been involved in Betsy’s death, that he was ultimately acquitted of that charge, and
that he was deprived of his liberty as a result of the charge (Id. at ¶¶ 515-524). Defendants now
move (1) to dismiss Plaintiff’s amended complaint in its entirety for failure to comply with
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) (pleading that states a claim for relief must contain “a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief”); and (2) to
dismiss Count V for failure to state a viable claim under § 1983. The motion is fully briefed and
ready for disposition. For the following reasons, the Court will deny the motion in part, and hold
the motion in abeyance in part.
I. “Short and plain statement” standard
Defendants first move to dismiss Plaintiff’s amended complaint in its entirety, arguing
that—at 83 pages in length—it is neither short nor plain (Docs. 15, 15.1, 19). Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires that civil complaints contain “a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” The pleading standard of Rule 8 “does not
require ‘detailed factual allegations,’ but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendantunlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). A complaint must show that the pleader
is entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the claims are and the
grounds upon which they rest. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. In the complaint, a plaintiff must
include sufficient factual information to provide the grounds on which his claims rest, and to
raise a right to relief above a speculative level. Schaaf v. Residential Funding Corp., 517 F.3d
544, 549 (8th Cir. 2008) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 & n.3). A complaint must contain
either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain
recovery under some viable legal theory. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 562. This standard “simply calls
for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of [the
claim or element].” Id. at 556.
In support of their motion to dismiss, Defendants argue that Plaintiff’s amended
complaint is neither short nor plain, and they cite to cases in which district courts have dismissed
complaints that were, inter alia, “lengthy, extremely redundant, vague, and filled with conclusory
statements” (Doc. 15.1). Having reviewed Plaintiff’s amended complaint in its entirety, the Court
notes that it contains numerous extraneous factual allegations which do not appear to be relevant
to any of Plaintiff’s claims, and that it also includes factual allegations in significantly greater
detail than is necessary to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The Court further notes
that Defendants have not specifically identified any factual allegations to which they object, nor
have they moved to strike the amended complaint or any portion thereof, see Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(f) (the Court may—sua sponte or on motion by a party—strike from a pleading, inter alia, any
redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter). Rather, Defendants seek dismissal of
the amended complaint, in its entirety, based on its overall length and level of detail; in so doing,
Defendants essentially ask the Court to place the burden on Plaintiff to identify any extraneous
factual allegations, and to omit them from a second amended complaint. Plaintiff’s amended
complaint is long and detailed, names several defendants, and contains several superfluous
factual allegations; however, his complaint allegations are clearly stated, easily understood, and
sufficiently place Defendants on notice of the nature of the claims against them. See Davis v.
Boylan, No. 16-2604, 2016 WL 6595969, at *1 (8th Cir. Nov. 8, 2016) (unpublished per curiam
opinion). The Court will therefore deny Defendants’ motion to dismiss the amended complaint
for failure to comply with Rule 8(a)(2).
II. Plaintiff’s Malicious Prosecution Claim
Defendants also seek dismissal of Count V of Plaintiff’s amended complaint for failure to
state a claim, arguing that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals does not recognize malicious
prosecution as a constitutional tort actionable under § 1983 (Docs. 15, 15.1, 19). Plaintiff
opposes dismissal of Count V, and asks that the Court defer ruling on Plaintiff’s motion pending
the United States Supreme Court’s resolution of Manuel v. Joliet, 14-9496 (U.S.). In Manuel, the
Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari on the issue of “whether an individual’s Fourth
Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizure continues beyond legal process so as to
allow a malicious prosecution claim based upon the Fourth Amendment.” Id. (Jan. 15, 2016).
The case is fully briefed, and the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on October 5, 2016.
Manuel squarely presents the issue of whether Plaintiff can state a viable claim of malicious
prosecution under § 1983. As such, the Court will hold Defendants’ motion to dismiss in
abeyance to the extent it seeks dismissal of Count V for failure to state claim, pending the
Supreme Court’s resolution of Manuel. The Court notes that Defendants will not be prejudiced
by the abeyance, as they will not be required to undertake, or submit to, any additional discovery
relating to Count V as this matter otherwise proceeds.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 15) is DENIED
IN PART AND HELD IN ABEYANCE IN PART. Defendants’ motion is denied without
prejudice to the extent it seeks dismissal for lack of a short and plain statement under Rule
8(a)(2). To the extent it seeks dismissal of Count V for failure to state a claim, the motion will be
held in abeyance pending the Supreme Court’s resolution of Manuel v. Joliet, 14-9496 (U.S.).
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the parties are directed to notify the Court within ten
(10) days of the United States Supreme Court’s resolution of Manuel v. Joliet, 14-9496 (U.S.).
JOHN A. ROSS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 3rd day of January, 2017.
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