Banks v. Slay, Case No. 4:13CV02158 ERW

CourtUnited States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
Writing for the CourtE. RICHARD WEBBER SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
PartiesMICHAEL J. BANKS, et al., Plaintiffs, v. FRANCIS G. SLAY, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date25 July 2016
Docket NumberCase No. 4:13CV02158 ERW

MICHAEL J. BANKS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
FRANCIS G. SLAY, et al., Defendants.

Case No. 4:13CV02158 ERW

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI EASTERN DIVISION

July 25, 2016


MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on the parties' separate Motions for Summary Judgment. Defendants Francis Slay, an ex-officio member of the Saint Louis Board of Police Commissioners, Richard Gray, Thomas Irwin, Bettye-Battle Turner, and Erwin Switzer, (collectively, "Board Defendants") filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 53]; Defendants Francis Slay, in his official capacity as Mayor of Saint Louis; Tishaura Jones, Treasurer of the City of Saint Louis, and Darlene Green, Comptroller of the City of Saint Louis (collectively "City Defendants"); filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 56]; and Plaintiffs Michael J. Banks ("Banks") and Antonia Rush-Banks ("Plaintiffs") also filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 58].

I. BACKGROUND

The following account of the procedural history of this case is undisputed by the parties. Plaintiffs are Michael J. Banks ("Banks") and his wife, Antonia Rush-Banks. Former St. Louis City Police Officer Reginald Williams ("Williams") unlawfully arrested Banks, used false statements to justify the arrest, displayed a gun against Banks, without cause, and stole $750.00 in cash from Banks. Williams was convicted in federal court for his felonious acts against Banks, and

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he was sentenced to serve a seventy-eight month prison term which was affirmed in United States v. Williams, 177 Fed. Appx. 513 (8th Cir. 2006). Plaintiffs filed a petition in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis on August 23, 2005 styled Michael J. Banks v. Reginald Williams, et.al.,22052-08860 ("underlying case"). In their 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action in Circuit Court, Plaintiffs named as defendants Williams, as a police officer in his individual and official capacity, officer Ryan Cousins, in his personal and official capacity and the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners, ("Board Defendants"), Bart Saracino, Michael Quinn, Joann Freeman Morrow and Chris Goodson in their official capacity. [ECF No. 54-3 at 1]. In response to the lawsuit, Williams did not file an answer or any other motion. [ECF No. 52 at ¶3]. An Assistant Attorney General1 filed an answer to Plaintiffs' petition on behalf of Board Defendants, and on November 15, 2007, filed a motion for summary judgment for the same defendants. Id. at ¶ 4. Rather than responding to Board Defendants' motion for summary judgment, Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their petition against Board Defendants on June 16, 2008, without prejudice, leaving defaulted Williams as a defendant. Id. at ¶5. Thereafter, on August 19, 2008, Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint naming police officer Williams and police officer Ryan Cousins as defendants. Id. at ¶6. Plaintiffs' claims against Cousins were later dismissed by Plaintiffs with prejudice. [ECF No. 54-2 at 12].

For their third petition, on January 22, 2009, Plaintiffs filed their Second Amended Petition naming solely police officer Williams as defendant in his personal and official capacity. [ECF No. 52 at ¶ 7]. Summons, accompanied by the Second Amended Petition, were served, by Plaintiffs, on individual Board Defendants on January 26, 2009, by serving a copy upon a legal assistant for the Board Defendants, who, it is admitted by the parties, was authorized to receive service of process

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for the individual Board Members. Id. at ¶ 9. Again, no responsive pleading was filed on behalf of Williams in either his individual or official capacity. Id. at ¶10.

On April 3, 2009, a judge for the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis entered an order, "Default and Inquiry," setting a hearing on April 27, 2009. Prior to that hearing, Plaintiffs' counsel sent a copy of that order to the Assistant Attorney General assigned to the case by e-mail. [ECF No. 54-5]. On April 27, 2009, a circuit judge conducted a hearing and entered judgment against Williams in his individual and official capacity in the amount of $1,487,553.49. [ECF Nos. 1-6, 52 at ¶ 15]. No attorney entered an appearance at the default hearing for either Williams or Board Defendants, notwithstanding the presence at the hearing of a separate Assistant Attorney General who remained silent and took no action on behalf of Board Defendants. [ECF No. 52 at ¶14]. The Missouri Attorney General was tasked with the duty to represent Board Defendants.

Plaintiffs now seek to enforce the judgment entered by default, against the City Defendants through a writ of mandamus. The Board Defendants represent the Saint Louis Board of Police Commissioners ("Police Board"), the entity for which Officer Williams worked. The City Defendants represent the City of Saint Louis, which, the parties agree, is the successor-in-interest in liability to the Police Board, based on a city ordinance, passed since the conclusion of underlying case. Id. at ¶¶ 16, 17.

Plaintiffs now seek to enforce the default judgment entered against Williams in his official capacity against the City Defendants, the successors in interest to the Board Defendants, who have refused to pay the judgment.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is proper only if there exists "no genuine issue as to any material fact" and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. of Civ. Proc. 56(c); Bores

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v. Domino's Pizza, LLC, 530 F3d 671, 674 (8th Cir. 2008). The burden of proof is on the party moving for summary judgment, and all facts and reasonable inferences are to be viewed in the light most-favorable to the non-moving party. Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific Ry. Co. v. City of Orr, 529 F.3d 794, 797 (8th Cir. 2008). "Although the moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence of genuine issues of material fact, 'the nonmoving party may not rest upon mere denials or allegations, but must instead set forth specific facts sufficient to raise a genuine issue for trial.'" Burchett v. Target Corp., 340 F.3d 510, 516 (8th Cir. 2003) quoting Rose-Maston v. NME Hosps., Inc., 133 F.3d 1104, 1107 (8th Cir. 1998).

Material facts are determined by substantive law, and factual disputes which are irrelevant or collateral do not preclude Summary Judgement. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute is a genuine issue, where the evidence is such a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id. at 248. If the non-moving party has failed to "make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, . . . there can be 'no genuine issue as to any material fact,' since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the non-moving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

The moving party must show that "there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. If the moving party meets this initial burden, the non-moving party must then set forth affirmative evidence and specific facts that demonstrate a genuine dispute on that issue. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. Instead, the non-moving party must demonstrate sufficient favorable evidence that could enable a jury to return a verdict for it. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. "If the non-moving party fails to produce such evidence, summary judgment is proper." Olson v. Pennzoil Co., 943 F.2d 881, 883 (8th Cir. 1991).

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In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court may not "weigh the evidence in the summary judgment record, decide credibility questions, or determine the truth of any factual issue." Kampouris v. St. Louis Symphony Soc., 210 F.3d 845, 847 (8th Cir. 2000). The Court instead "perform[s] only a gatekeeper function of determining whether there is evidence in the summary judgment record generating a genuine issue of material fact for trial on each essential element of a claim." Id.

III. DISCUSSION

Plaintiffs argue summary judgment is appropriate because they hold a clear and valid judgment, entitling them to a writ of mandamus, ordering the City Comptroller to pay the judgment along with post-judgment interest of nine percent. [ECF No. 59]. City Defendants and Board Defendants argue Plaintiffs are not entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law, because their judgment is not valid, since Defendants in the underlying case did not receive proper notice, and therefore, Plaintiffs do not have a clear right to relief entitling them to a writ of mandamus. Further, Defendants argue post-judgment interest is not appropriate because interest was not awarded in the initial judgment. [ECF No. 53, 56].

A. Notice

The primary issue in this case is whether Board Defendants had proper notice in the underlying case, to justify payment by the City of St. Louis for the judgment. The arguments regarding notice can be divided into two categories. First, Defendants argue Plaintiffs' course of conduct, in the underlying case, did not provide the notice required to establish an official capacity claim against the entity under Brandon v. Holt, 469 U.S. 464 (1985) and its progeny. Next, Defendants argue the holdings in Brandon and its progeny do not apply to the present case, because the present case is outside the ambit of the holding in Brandon.

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"[The Supreme Court has] plainly implied that a judgment against a public servant 'in his official capacity' imposes liability on the entity that he represents provided, of course, the public entity received notice and an opportunity to respond." Brandon, 469 U.S. at 471-2; Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985) ("[a]s long as the government entity receives notice and an opportunity to respond, an official-capacity suit is, in all respects other than name, to be treated as a suit against the entity.").Where a plaintiff sues a police officer in his official...

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