United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Andrew M. Irlbeck and Paul Applebaum, Applebaum Law Firm, 332 Minnesota Street, Suite W-1610, St. Paul, MN 55101, for Plaintiff.
Judith A. Hanson, St. Paul City Attorney, 15 West Kellogg Boulevard, Suite 750, St. Paul, MN 55102, for Defendants.
SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Objections [Doc. No. 17] to United States Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer's April 7, 2015, Order [Doc. No. 16]. Judge Bowbeer denied Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint [Doc. No. 7] because Plaintiff's proposed Monell claim would be futile. (See MJ Order at 11 [Doc. No. 16].) For the following reasons, the Court finds that the magistrate judge's order was correctly decided, overrules Plaintiff's Objections, and denies Plaintiff's Motion.
In October 2014, Plaintiff Christopher Lollie filed an action in state court against the City of St. Paul, and Officers Michael Johnson, Bruce Schmidt, and Lori Hayne, individually and in their official capacities as police officers for the City of St. Paul. (See generally Notice of Removal, Ex. A "State Court Summons and Complaint" [Doc. No. 1-1].) Plaintiff alleges that on January 31, 2014, Defendants violated his "clearly established rights under the Constitution of the United States, federal statutes, and Minnesota's common law." (See id. "State Court Complaint" at 1.) Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants are liable for (1) excessive force in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2) false arrest in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (3) an unreasonable Terry stop in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (4) battery; and (5) false imprisonment. (See Pl.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Am. Compl. at 1 [Doc. No. 9].) On November 19, 2014, Defendants removed this matter to federal court. (See Notice of Removal [Doc. No. 1].)
On March 2, 2015, Plaintiff timely filed a Motion to Amend Complaint [Doc. No. 7]. Specifically, Plaintiff sought to add a Monell claim against the City of St. Paul. (See Pl.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Am.Compl. at 1 [Doc. No. 9].) Under Monell v. Department of Social Services of City of New York, a city may be held liable for constitutional torts of individual officers where an official policy or custom of the municipality is the moving force behind the officers' constitutional violations. See 436 U.S. 658, 690-95 (1978).
Plaintiff proposes the following amendments in support of his Monell claim:
"The individually named Defendant Officers were acting pursuant to a policy, custom or practice of Defendant City of St. Paul of deliberate indifference towards the constitutional rights of civilians, and towards the violations of such rights by its officers. By failing to adequately investigate allegations of wrongdoing, and discipline the culpable officers, the City adopted a policy of deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of individuals in its jurisdiction. This de facto policy was in effect on the [sic] January 31, 2014." (See Irlbeck Aff., Ex. 1, "Proposed First Am. Compl." ¶ 22 [Doc. No. 10-1].)
"Furthermore, Defendant City of St. Paul, through its final policymakers - namely the Mayor and Chief of Police - ratified the unconstitutional conduct of the individual officers in this case by exonerating them of all wrongdoing in the Internal Affairs investigation, and holding press conferences to declare the treatment of Mr. Lollie legal, and in accord with City/Departmental policy." (Id. ¶ 23.)
"This policy of deliberate indifference, inaction, and ratification by final policymaker(s) was the moving force behind the individual constitutional violations in this matter, and as such the City is liable under Monell." (Id. ¶ 24.)
"The City of St. Paul had and continues to have a policy, custom or practice of deliberate indifference towards the violations of those rights by its officers. The City also has a policy of ratifying and thereby condoning the unconstitutional conduct of its officers." (Id. ¶ 31.)
"The Defendant officers in this case were acting pursuant to this policy, and their actions were in fact ratified by the City after the incident, thus making the policy the moving force behind the constitutional violations in this particular case. The City is therefore liable for the violations of Mr. Lollie's constitutional rights on January 31, 2014." (Id. ¶ 32.)
Defendants filed a memorandum in opposition to Plaintiff's motion, contending that Lollie's proposed amendments were futile. (See Defs.' Mem. in Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. at 2 [Doc. No. 12].) Magistrate Judge Bowbeer agreed with Defendants and ...