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W/G Kristina 123 LLC v. Melena

January 13, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Blanche M. Manning United States District Judge


The 12 Oaks at Woodfield apartment complex in Rolling Meadows is home to 2,000 people. In an effort to address alleged criminal activity at the complex, the City of Rolling Meadows blocked off twelve of thirteen entrances and set up a checkpoint at the open entrance. After the owners of the complex filed suit, the Rolling Meadows Police removed or relocated the barricades so that residents and guests could enter and exit freely. The plaintiffs contend that the barricades violated their substantive and procedural due process rights, and assert that the City of Rolling Meadows has threatened to move the barriers back into place.*fn1 The defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) is before the court.

For the following reasons, the defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) is granted and the plaintiffs are given leave to replead.

I. Background

The following facts are taken from the plaintiffs' complaint, and are deemed to be true for purposes of the motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs W/G Kristina 123 LLC, W/G LCD, LLC and W/G SPI LLC own the 12 Oaks at Woodfield apartment complex in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. Plaintiff Michael Sparks is a managing member of each of these entities. Approximately 2,000 residents live at the 12 Oaks complex, which covers 34 acres and has thirteen entrances.

On June 9, 2008, the Rolling Meadows police barricaded twelve of the thirteen entrances and set up a roadblock at the remaining open entrance, allegedly due to criminal activities taking place at 12 Oaks. Rolling Meadows did not provide any notice to the plaintiffs, who contend that the barricades harm the 12 Oaks' reputation, make the residents feel like criminals, and decrease the value of the property in the 12 Oaks complex. The plaintiffs allege that the police interrogated everyone entering the complex, even though the stated reason for the barricades was to pass out safety brochures.

In June of 2008, shortly before the hearing on the plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order, the City removed the checkpoint and some of the barriers, and repositioned the remaining barriers so residents and visitors could access the 12 Oaks complex freely. According to the plaintiffs, the defendants intend to move the barricades back into place at an unspecified time to transform 12 Oaks into a gated community.

The plaintiffs filed suit against Thomas Melena (the Rolling Meadows city manager), Steven Williams (the Rolling Meadows police chief), unknown Rolling Meadows police officers who were involved with the barricades, and the City of Rolling Meadows. They seek monetary, declaratory and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on the defendants' alleged violations of their Fourteenth Amendment due process rights. Specifically, in their nine-count amended complaint, the plaintiffs assert procedural due process claims against Melena, Williams, the unknown Rolling Meadows police officers, and the City of Rolling Meadows (Counts I-IV, respectively), substantive due process claims against all of the defendants (Counts V-VIII, respectively), and two supplemental state law claims asserting that the City of Rolling Meadows is liable for any judgment against the individual defendants under 745 ILCS § 10/9-102 and respondeat superior (Counts IX-X).

II. Discussion

The defendants seek to dismiss the amended complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), contending that the plaintiffs' procedural and substantive due process claims are, in fact, really takings claims that are not ripe because the plaintiffs failed to exhaust their state court remedies prior to filing suit. Alternatively, the defendants argue that the plaintiffs' due process claims fail on the merits and should be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) because the plaintiffs have not established a constitutionally protected right to unrestricted access to their property and the barricades were a proper use of the City's police powers. Finally, the defendants seek dismissal of the supplemental state law claims, asserting that these claims can survive a motion to dismiss only if the plaintiffs plead a viable federal claim. The court's consideration of these arguments begins and ends with ripeness.

A. Standard of Review for a Rule 12(b)(1) Motion to Dismiss

In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court must assume the truth of all facts alleged in the complaint, construing the allegations liberally and viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See, e.g., McMath v. City of Gary, 976 F.2d 1026, 1031 (7th Cir. 1992). Federal courts may review subject-matter jurisdiction at any point in litigation. Wisconsin v. Ho-Chunk Nation, 512 F.3d 921, 935 (7th Cir. 2008). If a claim is not ripe, the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Flying J Inc. v. City of New Haven, - F.3d -, No. 08-2319, 2008 WL 5101593, at *3 (7th Cir. Dec. 5, 2008).

B. Federal Constitutional Claims

"[T]he initial step in any § 1983 analysis is to identify the specific constitutional right which was allegedly violated." Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 394 (1989). The parties to this case disagree as to what constitutional right is at issue. The defendants argue that any cause of action based on limiting access to the 12 Oaks property is necessarily a Fifth Amendment takings claim which must be exhausted in state court. On the other hand, the plaintiffs contend that they may proceed with substantive and procedural due process claims now, and that any such claims are not subject to the exhaustion requirement. For ...

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