Morton v. Becker, No. 85-1673

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore McMILLIAN and JOHN R. GIBSON; JOHN R. GIBSON
Citation793 F.2d 185
Docket NumberNo. 85-1673
Decision Date07 July 1986
PartiesWayne MORTON, Appellant, v. Dennis BECKER and John Berner, Chief of Police, and Homer Sayad, Charles Valier, Thomas Purcell, Dr. Jerome Williams and Vincent Schoemehl, individually as members of the Board of Police Commissioners, St. Louis, Missouri, Appellees.

Page 185

793 F.2d 185
Wayne MORTON, Appellant,
v.
Dennis BECKER and John Berner, Chief of Police, and Homer
Sayad, Charles Valier, Thomas Purcell, Dr. Jerome Williams
and Vincent Schoemehl, individually as members of the Board
of Police Commissioners, St. Louis, Missouri, Appellees.
No. 85-1673.
United States Court of Appeals,
Eighth Circuit.
Submitted Jan. 14, 1986.
Decided June 6, 1986.
Rehearing Denied July 7, 1986.

Mary Elizabeth Kaslick, St. Louis, Mo., for appellant.

Michelle C. Clay, St. Louis, Mo., for appellees.

Before McMILLIAN and JOHN R. GIBSON, Circuit Judges, and MURPHY, * District Judge.

Page 186

JOHN R. GIBSON, Circuit Judge.

Wayne Morton appeals from the district court's dismissal of his suit brought under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 (1982), against Dennis Becker, a City of St. Louis police officer, John Berner, City of St. Louis Police Chief, and named members of the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners, 1 for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. We affirm the district court's dismissal of the case.

Morton alleged in his complaint that members of the St. Louis Police Department seized his car under the mistaken belief that it was stolen, and executed a hold order which identified the car as stolen. The essence of Morton's claim was that the appellees refused to either lift the hold order, or issue an affidavit to the Missouri Department of Revenue affirmatively stating that the car was not stolen. This conduct, Morton asserted, deprived him of his property interest in the car, and in the goodwill of his business, without the due process of law guaranteed him by the fifth and fourteenth amendments.

The district court held that Morton's complaint failed to allege deprivation of a property interest cognizable under section 1983, concluding that the complaint stated at most a cause of action for defamation. On appeal, Morton argues that his complaint stated more than a defamation cause of action: it alleged deprivation of constitutionally protected property interests and therefore was sufficient to state a section 1983 cause of action. We conclude that Morton's complaint, even were it sufficient to state injury to a constitutionally cognizable property interest, fails to state a causal connection between defendant's conduct and the alleged injuries. For this reason we conclude that the complaint fails to state a cause of action under section 1983.

The allegations of Morton's complaint can be summarized as follows: Morton is an automobile dealer in Barnhart, Missouri. In May 1980 he sold a 1979 Chevrolet Camaro to a St. Louis automobile dealer. In June 1980 that dealer sold the car to Joseph and Mary Santangello. On or about March 10, 1982, Dennis Becker, and other unknown St. Louis police officers, seized the car from the Santangellos, claiming that it had been reported as a stolen vehicle. During the seizure, the St. Louis Police Department placed a hold order on the car identifying it as stolen. On March 25, 1982, the police returned the car to the Santangellos along with a Vehicle Examination Certificate which stated that the car had not been stolen. The Certificate also stated that copies were to be mailed to the Missouri Department of Revenue and Highway Patrol Headquarters. A copy of the Certificate was attached to the complaint as an exhibit. After return of the car, the St. Louis Police failed to lift the hold order.

Morton alleged that on or about May 15, 1982, he repurchased the car from the Santangellos, in part to minimize injury to his professional reputation. He subsequently made explicit demands on the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to lift the hold order, or to issue an affidavit to the Missouri Department of Revenue stating that the vehicle had not been stolen. The Police Department refused and thus, he contended, thwarted his attempts to acquire proper title and registration from the Department of Revenue. Morton also alleged that he was stopped by the City of Pevely Police Department and his car temporarily confiscated because of the continued effect of the St. Louis hold order. Thus, Morton contended, the appellees' conduct prevented him from reselling the vehicle; implicated him as a dealer in stolen vehicles, causing his customers to be aware of these implications; deprived him of the value of the automobile; and caused him to suffer serious business losses.

The district court concluded that Morton's complaint was insufficient to state a section 1983 cause of action because the

Page 187

facts alleged did not indicate that Morton was deprived of any liberty or property interest protected by the fifth and fourteenth amendments. Morton v. Becker, No. 84-2818, slip op. at 2 (E.D.Mo. May 2, 1985). The court found that the complaint stated at most a cause of action for defamation, and invoked Supreme Court and Eighth Circuit authority requiring more than alleged injury to reputation to state a section 1983 cause of action. Id. at 3 (citing Paul v. Davis, 424 U.S. 693, 710, 96 S.Ct. 1155, 1165, 47 L.Ed.2d 405 (1976); Miner v. Brackney, 719 F.2d 954, 955 (8th Cir.1983), cert. denied, 467 U.S. 1259, 104 S.Ct. 3854, 82 L.Ed.2d 856 (1984); Underwood v....

To continue reading

Request your trial
743 practice notes
  • C.H. Robinson Co. v. Paris & Sons, Inc., No. C01-2030-MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • 10 Diciembre 2001
    ...if `it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts which would entitle him to relief.'") (quoting Morton v. Becker, 793 F.2d 185, 187 (8th Cir.1986), and citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)). This court also observes that a mot......
  • Karsjens v. Jesson, Civil No. 11–3659 (DWF/JJK).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Minnesota
    • 20 Febrero 2014
    ...to be true and construes all reasonable inferences from those facts in the light most favorable to the complainant. Morton v. Becker, 793 F.2d 185, 187 (8th Cir.1986). In doing so, however, a court need not accept as true wholly conclusory allegations, Hanten v. Sch. Dist. of Riverview Gard......
  • DePugh v. Smith, No. C 94-4030.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Northern District of West Virginia
    • 22 Marzo 1995
    ...101-102, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). Carney, 33 F.3d at 894; see also Hamm v. Groose, 15 F.3d 110, 112 (8th Cir.1994) (citing Morton v. Becker, 793 F.2d 185, 187 (8th Cir.1986)). Thus, in considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must assume that all facts alleged in the plain......
  • Guggenberger v. Minnesota, Civil No. 15-3439 (DWF/BRT)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Minnesota
    • 28 Julio 2016
    ...to be true and construes all reasonable inferences from those facts in the light most favorable to the complainant. Morton v. Becker, 793 F.2d 185, 187 (8th Cir. 1986). In doing so, however, a court need not accept as true wholly conclusory allegations, Hanten v. Sch. Dist. of Riverview Gar......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
746 cases
  • C.H. Robinson Co. v. Paris & Sons, Inc., No. C01-2030-MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • 10 Diciembre 2001
    ...if `it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts which would entitle him to relief.'") (quoting Morton v. Becker, 793 F.2d 185, 187 (8th Cir.1986), and citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)). This court also observes that a mot......
  • Karsjens v. Jesson, Civil No. 11–3659 (DWF/JJK).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Minnesota
    • 20 Febrero 2014
    ...to be true and construes all reasonable inferences from those facts in the light most favorable to the complainant. Morton v. Becker, 793 F.2d 185, 187 (8th Cir.1986). In doing so, however, a court need not accept as true wholly conclusory allegations, Hanten v. Sch. Dist. of Riverview Gard......
  • DePugh v. Smith, No. C 94-4030.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Northern District of West Virginia
    • 22 Marzo 1995
    ...101-102, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). Carney, 33 F.3d at 894; see also Hamm v. Groose, 15 F.3d 110, 112 (8th Cir.1994) (citing Morton v. Becker, 793 F.2d 185, 187 (8th Cir.1986)). Thus, in considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must assume that all facts alleged in the plain......
  • Guggenberger v. Minnesota, Civil No. 15-3439 (DWF/BRT)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Minnesota
    • 28 Julio 2016
    ...to be true and construes all reasonable inferences from those facts in the light most favorable to the complainant. Morton v. Becker, 793 F.2d 185, 187 (8th Cir. 1986). In doing so, however, a court need not accept as true wholly conclusory allegations, Hanten v. Sch. Dist. of Riverview Gar......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT