Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Farah v. Weyker

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 9, 2017

FADUMA M. FARAH, Plaintiff,
v.
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.

          ORDER

          JOAN N. ERICKSEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff 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.

         The 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.

         Nineteen 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. No. 55.

         The Court held a hearing on Defendants' motions on May 3, 2017, and now grants both motions.[1]

         II. APPLICABLE STANDARDS

         A 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. 3-4.

         III. ALLEGATIONS

         Most of 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 record.[2]

         At some 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.

         On 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 Service.

         F. 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).

         The 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.

         On 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.

         On 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.

         Jane 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.

         With 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.