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Vaden v. Village of Maywood

decided: January 7, 1987.


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 84 C 2492 -- Paul E. Plunkett, Judge.

Author: Swygert

Before FLAUM and EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judges, and SWYGERT, Senior Circuit Judge.

SWYGERT, Senior Circuit Judge

Plaintiff-appellant Chloree Vaden owns and operates a mobile food vending business in the Village of Maywood, Illinois. When the Village enacted ordinances restricting the hours and manner of her sales, Vaden brought an action against the Village and several of its officials, alleging a violation of her due process and equal protection rights, and seeking declaratory, injunctive and monetary relief. The district court dismissed Vaden's amended complaint for failure to state a claim. We affirm.


In reviewing the dismissal of a complaint for failure to state a claim, we must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint. Ellsworth v. City of Racine, 774 F.2d 182, 184 (7th Cir. 1985), cert. denied 475 U.S. 1047, 106 S. Ct. 1265, 89 L. Ed. 2d 574 (1986); Ashbrook v. Hoffman, 617 F.2d 474, 475 (7th Cir. 1980). The dismissal can be affirmed only if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts entitling her to relief. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99 (1957); Ellsworth, 774 F.2d at 184. At the same time, we are not required to accept legal conclusions that may be alleged in the complaint. Reichenberger v. Pritchard, 660 F.2d 280, 282 (7th Cir. 1981). The relevant well-pleaded facts contained in Vaden's amended complaint are as follows.

In 1979, the Village issued Vaden a mobile food vending license which she has renewed on a yearly basis. Thereafter, Vaden sold soft drinks, candy, and other food items from her truck, primarily to school children. This vending business has been Vaden's sole source of income.

Vaden claims that shortly after she obtained her license, various Village officials began to interfere with her business. On several occasions, they asked her to change the location of her vending business. Vaden complied with each request. In January 1984, when Vaden sought to renew her vendor's license, the Village Code Enforcement Director for the first time refused to issue a renewal license until Vaden produced a certificate of registration under the Illinois Retailers' Occupation Tax Act, Ill. Ann. Stat. ch. 120, ยง 441a (Smith-Hurd 1983). In addition, the Code Enforcement Director refused to perform the necessary inspection of Vaden's truck until Vaden presented the certificate. As a result, Vaden did not receive a renewal license for several months.

In January 1984, Vaden's business was severely restricted when the Board of Village Trustees amended the Village ordinance governing mobile food vendors as follows:

Mobile food dispenser vehicles shall not be operated in the Village between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on any day between August 25 and June 30 when a public elementary or public secondary school operated in a school district encompassing any part of the Village is open, provided that the school is attended by students residing within the Village.

Mobile food dispenser vehicles while operating in any residential area shall move a minimum distance of one block every ten minutes.

Village of Maywood, Ill., Ordinance CO-84-3 (Jan. 26, 1984) (the "January ordinance"). Because her clientele consisted primarily of school children who purchased food at lunchtime and immediately after school, the January ordinance virtually eliminated Vaden's vending business during school months.

The Board eventually realized that the January ordinance restricted all mobile food vendors operating in the Village, regardless of location, a result the Board had not intended. Accordingly, the Board adopted a second amendment in May 1984 (the "May ordinance") to differentiate between "Mobile Food Dispenser Vehicles" (vehicles such as Vaden's) and "Mobile Catering Vehicles." The two types of vehicles are defined by the locations in which they operate. The May ordinance permits mobile catering vehicles to sell only while parked on private property in commercial, business, or industrial areas. In contrast, mobile food dispenser vehicles may sell on either public or private property in ...

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