Khalea Edwards v. City of Florissant, No. 21-3137 (8th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs brought a U.S.C. Section 1983 action against the City of Florissant, Missouri. They allege the City is liable under Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), because Florissant police officers, acting pursuant to an unlawful custom or policy, violated First and Fourteenth Amendment rights at five protests in June and July 2020 when they declared an unlawful assembly and ordered the dispersal of protestors who had not committed the Missouri crimes of unlawful assembly or refusal to disperse. Plaintiffs appealed the district court’s Memorandum and Order dismissing their complaint for failure to state a claim on the ground that a municipality’s police power “to declare that an assembly is unlawful and to order individuals to disperse is not tethered to Missouri’s statutes codifying the criminal offenses of unlawful assembly and failure to disperse.”
The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that Plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (“FAC”) improperly limited Florissant’s broad civil authority to manage protests in the public interest to situations violating the criminal offenses of unlawful assembly and failure to disperse. The court reasoned that the alleged customs of declaring unlawful assemblies and ordering protesters to disperse in “the absence of an agreement of one person acting in concert with six or more other persons to imminently violate a criminal law with force or violence” do not state a claim of constitutional injury under Monell. Thus, the FAC failed to plausibly allege a constitutional violation by any city employee and therefore failed to state a claim of Monell liability.