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Banks v. Slay

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

June 19, 2015

Michael J. Banks; Antonia Rush-Banks, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
Francis G. Slay, in his official capacity as Mayor, City of St. Louis, and Ex-Officio Member, St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners; Darlene Green, in her official capacity as Comptroller, City of St. Louis; Tishaura O. Jones, in her official capacity as Treasurer, City of St. Louis; Richard Gray, in his official capacity as President, St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners; Thomas Irwin, in his official capacity as Vice President, St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners; Bettye Battle-Turner, in her official capacity as Treasurer, St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners; Erwin O. Switzer, in his official capacity as Purchasing Member, St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners, Defendants-Appellees

Submitted, March 11, 2015

Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri - St. Louis.

For Michael J. Banks, Antonia Rush-Banks, Plaintiffs - Appellants: Robert Herman, Schwartz & Herman, Saint Louis, MO; Kenneth M. Romines, Saint Louis, MO.

For Francis G. Slay, in his official capacity as Mayor, City of St. Louis, and Ex-Officio Member, St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners, Defendant - Appellee: J. Brent Dulle, City Counselor's Office, Saint Louis, MO; Robert J. Isaacson, Assistant Attorney General, Attorney General's Office, Saint Louis, MO.

For Darlene Green, in her official capacity as Comptroller, City of St. Louis, Tishaura O. Jones, in her official capacity as Treasurer, City of St. Louis, Defendants - Appellees: J. Brent Dulle, City Counselor's Office, Saint Louis, MO.

For Richard Gray, in his official capacity as President, St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners, Thomas Irwin, in his official capacity as Vice President, St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners, Bettye Battle-Turner, in her official capacity as Treasurer, St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners, Erwin O. Switzer, in his official capacity as Purchasing Member, St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners, Defendants - Appellees: Robert J. Isaacson, Assistant Attorney General, Attorney General's Office, Saint Louis, MO.

Before MURPHY and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges, and BROOKS,[1] District Judge.

OPINION

Page 920

MURPHY, Circuit Judge.

In 2009 Michael Banks and Antonia Rush-Banks obtained a $900,000 default judgment in a state court action against a St. Louis police officer in his individual and official capacities. The couple then unsuccessfully sought a writ of mandamus to enforce that judgment from both the state trial court and the Missouri Court of Appeals. Subsequently they filed this declaratory judgment action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. They seek both a declaration that the City of St. Louis and the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners are obligated to satisfy their 2009 default judgment and a writ of mandamus ordering the official defendants to grant such relief. The federal district court decided that it lacked jurisdiction, citing District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 103 S.Ct. 1303, 75 L.Ed.2d 206 (1983), and Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 44 S.Ct. 149, 68 L.Ed. 362 (1923). It also indicated that it would abstain under Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 91 S.Ct. 746, 27 L.Ed.2d 669 (1971). Plaintiffs' claims were then dismissed with prejudice, and they appeal. We reverse.

Banks and Rush-Banks had initiated their state action against St. Louis police officers Reginald Williams and Ryan Cousins and the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners

Page 921

in 2005, claiming violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (" Banks I" ). In 2009 the state trial court granted plaintiffs' motion to file a second amended complaint against officer Williams in his individual and official capacities and to dismiss their other claims. The claims in the second amended complaint were based on acts by Williams in 2002, when he allegedly searched and seized Banks with no probable cause, took $1,100 from him without including it in department records, and filed false reports about Banks. Plaintiffs claimed that this arrest and these false reports led to a criminal prosecution against Banks for unlawful use of a weapon, a charge on which he was acquitted. The second amended complaint also alleged that these actions by Williams were part of a pattern of unconstitutional conduct about which the police board was deliberately indifferent. After Williams and members of the police board were served with the second amended complaint, Williams did not answer. Both Williams and an attorney for the police board were notified of the potential default and a scheduled hearing. Only plaintiffs appeared at the hearing, however. Plaintiffs offered evidence about their damages, and a $900,000 default judgment was subsequently entered against officer Williams " in his personal and official capacities, jointly and severally." Banks v. Williams, No. 052-8860 (Mo. 22d Cir. Apr. 27, 2009).

Subsequently plaintiffs petitioned the state court for a writ of mandamus on April 6, 2012, seeking payment for the damages alleged in their default judgment. The named defendants were the mayor of St. Louis (Francis Slay), the city comptroller (Darlene Green), the city treasurer (Larry Williams[2]), and two members of the police board (Slay as ex officio member and Bettye Battle-Turner). Defendants moved to dismiss. After the state trial court entered an ...


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