United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Watkins, plaintiff pro se.
M. Kisch, Office of the St. Paul Attorney, counsel for
S. Doty, Judge
matter is before the court upon the motion to dismiss by
defendant City of St. Paul. Based on a review of the file,
record, and proceedings herein, and for the following
reasons, the motion to dismiss is granted.
civil rights dispute arises from the allegation that in the
early morning of August 2, 2016, St. Paul police officers
ordered pro se plaintiff Nancy Watkins back into her home,
threatened to have a police dog bite her if she failed to do
so, and kicked open the doors to her home and shed. The
complaint does not provide context for those allegations.
August 3, 2016, Watkins filed this suit under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, alleging that the City of St. Paul violated her
civil rights through the officers' conduct. Thereafter,
Watkins sent several letters to the City requesting the
identity of the officers and the dog involved in the
incident. The City responded that it sent Watkins a packet of
information on August 2 explaining the process by which she
could file a formal complaint. ECF No. 10-1. The City further
noted that it sent her a follow-up letter on August 16,
explaining that it could not investigate the matter without a
formal statement from her. Id. The City enclosed
another complaint packet and stated that the matter would be
closed in 30 days absent further action. Id. As far
as the court is aware, Watkins has not yet filed a formal
complaint with the City. The City now moves to dismiss the
Standard of Review
survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim,
“‘a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Braden v. Wal-Mart
Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
[has pleaded] factual content that allows the court to draw
the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
556 (2007)). Although a complaint need not contain detailed
factual allegations, it must raise a right to relief above
the speculative level. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
“[L]abels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action” are not sufficient
to state a claim. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation
and internal quotation marks omitted). The court liberally
construes pro se complaints. Haines v. Kerner, 404
U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Haggy v. Solem, 547 F.2d 1363,
1364 (8th Cir. 1977).
municipality is only subject to liability under § 1983
when the plaintiff establishes that the municipality
maintained a policy, custom, or practice “the
implementation of which amounted to deliberate indifference
to his constitutional rights.” Lund v. Hennepin
Cty., 427 F.3d 1123, 1125 (8th Cir. 2005) (citing
Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658,
691 (1978)). A municipality cannot be held liable under
§ 1983 unless a municipal employee is found liable on an
underlying substantive constitutional claim. Monell,
436 U.S. at 691; Abbott v. City of Crocker, 30 F.3d
995, 998 (8th Cir. 1994). Because Watkins has not pleaded any
City policy, custom, or practice underlying her claim or any
substantive constitutional claim against any police officers,
Watkins has not plausibly alleged a violation of her
constitutional rights by the City. As a result, dismissal of
her claim is warranted. The court will dismiss the matter
without prejudice, however.
based on above, IT IS ...