United States District Court, D. Minnesota
FADUMA M. FARAH, Plaintiff,
HEATHER WEYKER, in her individual capacity as a St. Paul Police Officer; JOHN BANDEMER, in his individual and official capacities as a St. Paul Police Sergeant; JOHN DOES 3-4, in their individual and official capacities as supervisory members of the St. Paul Police Department; and THE CITY OF ST. PAUL, Defendants.
N. ERICKSEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Faduma M. Farah alleges violations of her constitutional
rights in an investigation that led to her indictment by a
federal grand jury and subsequent arrest, her trial on two of
the counts in which she was charged, and her acquittal by a
jury on those two counts. She sues Defendants Heather Weyker,
a police officer for the St. Paul Police Department in
Minnesota; John Bandemer, a St. Paul Police Department
sergeant who is alleged to have been Weyker's supervisor;
John Does 3-4, who are allegedly supervisory St. Paul police
officers; and the City of St. Paul (“St. Paul”).
Weyker and Bandemer move to dismiss F. Farah's complaint
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for
failure to state a claim and on absolute and qualified
immunity grounds. Dkt. No. 41. St. Paul moves on behalf of
the City of St. Paul and John Does 3-4 for judgment on the
pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c). Dkt. No. 47.
investigation at the core of F. Farah's civil complaint
targeted a suspected venture involving the sex-trafficking of
minor girls across Minnesota, Tennessee, and Ohio. The
investigation resulted in the criminal indictment of thirty
people, mostly Somali, in the Middle District of Tennessee in
2010-2011 (“Tennessee Case”). F. Farah alleges
that Weyker and Bandemer fabricated evidence about her and
others throughout the investigation, resulting in a tainted
indictment that was further corrupted by Weyker's
continuing deception, and causing her arrest and detention
without probable cause.
of her co-defendants in the Tennessee Case bring separate
suits similarly alleging constitutional violations, and a
twenty-first person brings another related civil suit. The
parties agreed to coordinated briefing on the Defendants'
motions. The Court assumes familiarity with its fuller
opinion in one of the related cases, Osman v. Weyker, et
al., No. 16cv908 (“Osman Opinion”) (filed
simultaneously herewith), and will not repeat that
opinion's discussion verbatim here, given the overlap in
allegations and arguments. F. Farah, coordinating with the
other plaintiffs represented by her counsel, opposed the
motions. See GBBS Pls.' Opp. to St. Paul Mot.,
Dkt. No. 52; GBBS Pls.' Opp. to DOJ Mot. to Dismiss, Dkt.
Court held a hearing on Defendants' motions on May 3,
2017, and now grants both motions.
motion to dismiss or a motion for judgment on the pleadings
is appropriately granted “only when there is no dispute
as to any material facts and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a [m]atter of law.” Greenman v.
Jessen, 787 F.3d 882, 887 (8th Cir. 2015) (citation
omitted). To survive a Rule 12 motion, “a complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); Haney v. Portfolio Recovery
Assocs., LLC, 837 F.3d 918, 924 (8th Cir. 2016), as
amended (Dec. 27, 2016). See also Osman Op.
the allegations are similar to those alleged by Osman and
summarized and analyzed in the Court's order in that
case. See, e.g., Osman Op. 4-8. The Court briefly
recounts some allegations in F. Farah's Second Amended
Complaint and some facts gleaned from the Tennessee Case
point before 2010, “Assistant U.S. Attorney [for the
Middle District of Tennessee] Van Vincent and others made
contact with Farah, ” asking her questions and at least
once “discuss[ing] putting Farah in witness protection
if she would testify against [other] individuals.” SAC
¶ 16; see also SAC ¶¶ 17-19. She
“declined as she did not possess truthful information
relating to criminal activity of the individuals . . .
.” SAC ¶ 16.
November 8, 2010, F. Farah was arrested by Weyker and federal
agents after she was indicted in a First Superseding
Indictment (“FSI”) in the Tennessee Case. SAC
¶¶ 20, 34. The indictment charged her in four
counts. SAC ¶ 34; see also FSI, United
States v. Farah, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 36 (M.D. Tenn.
Nov. 3, 2010). Two counts alleged participation in a
sex-trafficking conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
1591(a) (Counts 1 and 2). Count 11 alleged recruitment and
harboring from December 2005 through June 2008 of a minor
(Jane Doe One) to engage in commercial sex. Count 23 alleged
that on August 21, 2009, F. Farah made false statements in an
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust
Status with United States Citizenship and Immigration
Farah was initially placed in custody but on November 12,
2010, was ordered released on conditions. See SAC
¶¶ 24-28; United States v. Farah, No.
3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 202 (M.D. Tenn. Nov. 12, 2010).
indictment's “conspiracy as to sex trafficking
counts against Farah only involved one female listed
as ‘Jane Doe 1.'” SAC ¶ 39. Jane Doe One
supposedly identified Farah in a photographic show-up
conducted by Weyker on June 24, 2010. SAC ¶¶ 40-42.
Weyker was the lead investigator on the case. SAC ¶ 33.
The district court later found that this show-up “was
unduly suggestive.” SAC ¶ 43 (citing Dkt. No. 1392
in the Tennessee Case docket). The court nonetheless denied
F. Farah's suppression motion because “Jane Doe
One's identification of Farah has sufficient
characteristics of reliability to be admissible.”
United States v. Farah, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No.
1392, at 5 (M.D. Tenn. Feb. 15, 2012). F. Farah and Jane Doe
One do not know each other. SAC ¶ 52.
February 16, 2012, the district court granted a motion to
sever multiple counts, including Count 23, from the upcoming
trial. United States v. Farah, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt.
No. 1395 (M.D. Tenn. Feb. 16, 2012); see also id.,
Dkt. No. 1589 (M.D. Tenn. Feb. 23, 2012); SAC ¶ 38. The
count “was later dismissed.” SAC ¶ 38.
March 22, 2012, a jury was empaneled for a trial in the
Tennessee Case. On March 26, 2012, the district court granted
the government's motion to dismiss Count 11 as to F.
Farah. United States v. Farah, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt.
No. 2138 (M.D. Tenn. Mar. 26, 2012); SAC ¶ 37.
Doe One did not testify at the trial “because, upon
information and belief, she was unfit or incredible and/or
refused to testify.” SAC ¶ 44. “Instead, the
centerpiece of Weyker's fabricated case against Farah
pivoted to Jane Doe Five, ” despite the fact that the
indictment did not contain any allegations connecting F.
Farah to Jane Doe Five. SAC ¶¶ 45-46. Before her
arrest, F. Farah had only known of but did not directly know
Jane Doe Five. SAC ¶ 53. Yet Jane Doe Five's
testimony at trial implicated F. Farah. See SAC
¶¶ 47-49. In a much later Sixth Circuit opinion, an
appellate court judge wrote that Jane Doe Five “may be
. . . unworthy of belief.” United States v.
Fahra, 643 Fed.Appx. 480, 484 (6th Cir. 2016);
see SAC ¶ 55.
regard to the alleged sex-trafficking conspiracy,
“[t]here was never any such conspiracy and Farah never
engaged in any attempt to have Jane Doe One or Jane Doe Five
or any other individual engage in commercial sex.” SAC
¶ 50. “Fabricated ...