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Calzone v. Hawley

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 7, 2017

Ronald Calzone, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Josh Hawley, in his official capacity as Attorney General for the State of Missouri; Sandra K. Karsten, in her official capacity as Superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol; Eric Greitens, in his official capacity as Governor of the State of Missouri, [1] Defendants-Appellees.

          Submitted: April 6, 2017

         Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri - St. Louis

          Before COLLOTON and BENTON, Circuit Judges, and GERRARD, [2] District Judge.

          COLLOTON, Circuit Judge.

         Ronald Calzone sued three state officials to challenge provisions of Missouri law that authorize roving stops of certain vehicles for inspection without suspicion. The district court held that the statutes were not unconstitutional on their face. The court also ruled that Calzone's as-applied challenge was not adequately pleaded, because the defendants could not be sued in their official capacities under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. We affirm the court's conclusion that the statutes are not facially unconstitutional, but we conclude that the as-applied challenge against the superintendent should have been considered on the merits, so we remand for further proceedings.


         In June 2013, Missouri state highway patrol corporal J.L. Keathley stopped Calzone while he was driving his dump truck on United States Highway 63 in Phelps County, Missouri. Keathley asked Calzone if he could inspect the truck, but Calzone refused. Keathley then explained that Mo. Rev. Stat. § 304.230 authorized him to stop commercial vehicles and inspect them whether or not he had probable cause. Keathley warned Calzone that if he did not submit to an inspection, then Keathley would issue him a citation. Calzone still refused, so Keathley issued him a citation for failure to submit to a commercial vehicle inspection. The Phelps County prosecutor later abandoned the action against Calzone.

         Calzone then sued the governor of Missouri, the Missouri attorney general, and the superintendent of the Missouri state highway patrol under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He sought a declaratory judgment that Mo. Rev. Stat. § 304.230.1, .2, and .7 are unconstitutional on their face and as applied to him. He asked for a permanent injunction against the enforcement of these provisions, for one dollar in nominal damages, and for costs and attorney's fees.

         The district court granted summary judgment for the officials on Calzone's facial challenge and granted judgment on the pleadings for the officials on the as-applied challenge. The court concluded that the challenged provisions were not facially unconstitutional, because they could be applied constitutionally to participants in the closely regulated commercial trucking industry. The court concluded that Calzone's as-applied challenge failed because he could not sue the governor, the attorney general, or the superintendent under § 1983. The court reasoned that state officials acting in their official capacities are not "persons" subject to suit under the statute. We review the district court's rulings de novo.


         A threshold question is whether there is jurisdiction over Calzone's action against each of the defendants-the governor, the attorney general, and the superintendent. Calzone adequately alleges that he was injured by a seizure and is likely to be injured in the future. But Article III standing to sue each defendant also requires a showing that each defendant caused his injury and that an order of the court against each defendant could redress the injury. Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992).

         Because the defendants are state officials, Calzone also must show that the action is not barred by state sovereign immunity arising from the Eleventh Amendment. A suit for injunctive or declaratory relief avoids this immunity if the official has some connection to the enforcement of the challenged laws. See Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 157 (1908). In a case like this one, the two inquiries are similar: "[W]hen a plaintiff brings a pre-enforcement challenge to the constitutionality of a particular statutory provision, the causation element of standing requires the named defendants to possess authority to enforce the complained-of provision." Dig. Recognition Network v. Hutchinson, 803 F.3d 952, 957-58 (8th Cir. 2015) (alteration in original) (quotation omitted).

         Calzone plainly has standing to sue the superintendent. For purposes of the Eleventh Amendment and Ex parte Young, a state official's requisite connection with the enforcement of a statute may arise out of "the general law" or be "specially created by the act itself." 209 U.S. at 157. Section 304.230.1 specifically authorizes the superintendent to "promulgate rules and regulations relating to the implementation of the provisions" of § 304.230, so she is subject to suit on claims for injunctive and declaratory relief. Her directions that patrol officers should implement the statute by conducting vehicle inspections cause Calzone's injury, and an order directing her to cease and desist would redress the injury.

         Calzone's claims against the governor, on the other hand, do not present a case or controversy. No provision in Chapter 304 or the statutes defining his executive authority specifically authorizes the governor to enforce the vehicle inspection statutes. See Mo. Rev. Stat. § 26.010-.225. The Missouri Constitution confers upon the governor the duty to "take care that the laws are distributed and faithfully executed, " Mo. Const. art. IV, § 2, but such a general executive responsibility is an insufficient connection to the enforcement of a statute to avoid the Eleventh Amendment. See Fitts v. McGhee, 172 U.S. 516, ...

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