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Adan v. Weyker

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 9, 2017

ABDIFITAH JAMA ADAN, Plaintiff,
v.
HEATHER WEYKER, in her individual capacity as a St. Paul Police Officer; ROBERT ROES 1-3, in their individual and official capacities as supervisory members of the St. Paul Police Department; THE CITY OF ST. PAUL; JOHN BANDEMER, in his individual and official capacities as a St. Paul Police Sergeant, Defendants.

          ORDER

          JOAN N. ERICKSEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Abdifitah Jama Adan alleges violations of his constitutional rights in an investigation that led to his indictment by a federal grand jury and his subsequent arrest. He 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; Robert Roes 1-3, who are allegedly supervisory St. Paul police officers; and the City of St. Paul (“St. Paul”). Weyker and Bandemer move to dismiss Adan'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. 36. St. Paul moves on behalf of the City of St. Paul and Robert Roes 1-3 for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c). Dkt. No. 45.

         The investigation at the core of Adan'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”). Adan alleges that Weyker fabricated evidence about him and others throughout the investigation, resulting in a tainted indictment that was further corrupted by Weyker's continuing deception, and causing his arrest and detention without probable cause. Adan pleaded guilty to one of the counts of the First Superseding Indictment on which he was arrested. The count on which he was convicted pursuant to his guilty plea was unconnected to any alleged sex-trafficking.

         Nineteen of Adan's 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. Adan is represented by the same attorneys as the plaintiff in that case, and their attorneys filed consolidated opposition papers to the Defendants' motions. See Osman Pls.' Opp. to St. Paul Mot., Dkt. No. 50; Osman Pls.' Opp. to DOJ Mot. to Dismiss (“Osman DOJ Opp.”), Dkt. No. 56.

         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 appropriate to grant “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 salient 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 Adan's First Amended Complaint and other facts gleaned from the Tennessee Case record.

         In 2010, Adan lived in Nashville, Tennessee, with his then-wife Faduma Mohamed Farah and their children. FAC ¶¶ 10-11.

         A First Superseding Indictment was filed in the Tennessee Case on November 3, 2010, naming 29 defendants.[2] The indictment alleged that Adan was an associate of members of Minneapolis-based gangs referred to as the Somali Outlaws and the Somali Mafia. FSI ¶¶ 1(a)-(b), 1(e) & 1(f). It charged Adan with three counts: two counts of participation in a sex-trafficking conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a) (Counts 1 and 2); and one count of making and using a false writing in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (Count 22). See First Superseding Indictment (“FSI”), United States v. Adan, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 36 (M.D. Tenn. Nov. 3, 2010) (submitted as Ex. V in support of Weyker and Bandemer's Reply in this civil case). The indictment charged that “in or about 2000 through in or about 2006, ” Adan “transported and caused the transportation and harbored Somali females who had not attained the age of 14 years and had not attained the age of 18 years for the purpose of commercial sex acts . . . .” FSI ¶ 61; see also FAC ¶ 17. Adan alleges that the indictment's “bare and conclusory” allegation in Paragraph 61 “is and always was false” and unsupported. FAC ¶¶ 17-18. His then-wife F. Farah was also indicted in Counts 1 and 2, among others, and overt acts were pleaded to connect F. Farah to the prostitution of alleged sex-trafficking victim Jane Doe One in 2005 through 2008. See, e.g., FSI ¶¶ 5-6, 96.

         The allegations as to Adan in Count 22 of the First Superseding Indictment were more detailed: “On or about November 17, 2009, ” Adan made or used a false document in a matter within the jurisdiction of a United States agency, knowing the document to contain a materially false statement. FSI 53.[3] More precisely, he “filed, in Nashville, Tennessee, a signed I485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.” Id. The indictment alleged that in the I-485 application, Adan falsely stated, among other things, that he had never been arrested for a criminal offense and had not received public assistance in the United States, even though he knew that he had been convicted on a drug-possession felony in the fifth degree on September 28, 2004 in Ohio, that he had been arrested on September 26, 1999 by Border Patrol in Montana, and that he had received public assistance in the form of Section 8 housing for almost a year in 2003-2004. Id. at 53-54. Adan alleges that he “was charged with this count in order to pressure him into providing evidence about the fabricated sex-trafficking ring.” FAC ¶ 43.

         The “thrust” of the sex-trafficking conspiracy counts was that Adan “was engaged in a conspiracy to recruit and transport minors for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts.” FAC ¶ 14. “No such conspiracy existed, and Defendants knew it.” Id. Adan alleges upon information and belief that he “was only roped into this conspiracy because his ex-wife, Farah, once had an argument with the woman identified in the Indictment as ‘Jane Doe Five.'”[4] FAC ¶ 19. It was “well-known in the Nashville Somali community that Jane Doe Five was, to put it lightly, an unstable woman, and that any statements given by her could never be worthy of belief.” FAC ¶ 20. Weyker was the lead investigator on the case. FAC ¶ 26. Because of the argument with F. Farah, “when Weyker approached the unstable Jane Doe Five to solicit patently and knowingly false statements implicating any Somalis in Nashville in this non-existent sex-trafficking conspiracy, Jane Doe Five agreed to falsely implicate Farah, her husband Adan, and some of their community acquaintances in ...


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