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Robert E. Bailiff, and All Others Similarly Situated v. Village of Downers Grove

December 16, 2011

ROBERT E. BAILIFF, AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
VILLAGE OF DOWNERS GROVE,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Finnegan

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Robert E. Bailiff has filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 challenging the constitutionality of a Village of Downers Grove ordinance that requires individuals to pay an administrative booking fee if they are arrested in the Village. Plaintiff argues that the ordinance violates the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause by failing to give arrestees proper notice and an opportunity to be heard. Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for class certification pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3). For the reasons set forth here, the motion is granted.

BACKGROUND*fn1

Plaintiff, a resident of Downers Grove, Illinois, was arrested and charged with domestic battery on May 31, 2009. At the time of the arrest, a Village ordinance provided that "[a]n administrative fee of thirty dollars ($30.00) shall be imposed upon an arrestee when posting bail or bond for any criminal, Village ordinance or bookable arrest, including but not limited to warrants." Municipal Code 17.3.2. The Village claims that the fee was designed to "defray[] some of the cost of processing and booking an arrestee," and that it only covered "about half the Village's cost." (Doc. 29, at 2). In any event, it is undisputed that the Village charged Plaintiff the $30 fee and provided him with an Administrative Booking Fee Receipt. (Doc. 7, Ex. 1).

The Village police department opened a criminal case against Plaintiff on June 1, 2009, but dismissed it on January 3, 2011 nolle prosequi. Several months later on May 18, 2011, Plaintiff filed this class action lawsuit because the ordinance has no provision for reimbursement, and the Village never gave him back his $30 booking fee. He seeks to represent:

[a]ll individuals who were deprived of their property pursuant to Downers Grove Municipal Ordinance 17.3.2 without being provided the constitutionally guaranteed due process of law. (Doc. 7, at 2). Though Plaintiff initially sought injunctive relief pursuant to Rule 23(b)(2), the Village has confirmed that it stopped imposing the booking fee in response to this lawsuit. (Doc. 29-1 ¶ 9). Plaintiff therefore asks the Court to certify a class under Rule 23(b)(3). The Village objects that the proposed class definition is overly broad, and that Plaintiff cannot satisfy some of the necessary requirements for certification. As discussed below, the Court finds that with a slight modification to the class definition, this case may proceed under Rule 23(b)(3).

DISCUSSION

To obtain class certification, a plaintiff must demonstrate that "the putative class satisfies all four requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) -- numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation -- and any one of the conditions of Rule 23(b)." Siegel v. Shell Oil Co., 612 F.3d 932, 935 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Oshana v. Coca-Cola Co., 472 F.3d 506, 513 (7th Cir. 2006)). The court has broad discretion in determining whether to certify a class-action lawsuit, Arreola v. Godinez, 546 F.3d 788, 794 (7th Cir. 2008), and "must make whatever factual and legal inquiries are necessary . . ., even if those considerations overlap the merits of the case." American Honda Motor Co. v. Allen, 600 F.3d 813, 815 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Szabo v. Bridgeport Machines, Inc., 249 F.3d 672, 676 (7th Cir. 2001)). In this case, Plaintiff seeks certification pursuant to Rule 23(b)(3), which requires that "questions of law or fact common to class members predominate over any questions affecting only individual members, and that a class action is superior to other available methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating the controversy." FED. R. CIV. P. 23(b)(3); Siegel, 612 F.3d at 935.

I. Class Definition

Before addressing the specific requirements of Rule 23, the Court first notes that there is an implied prerequisite that the class description be "sufficiently defined so that the class is identifiable." Martinez v. Haleas, No. 07 C 6112, 2009 WL 2916852, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 2, 2009). In that regard, the class definition "must not be so broad as to include individuals who are without standing to maintain the action on their own behalf.'" Id. (quoting Oshana v. Coca-Cola Bottling Co., 225 F.R.D. 575, 580 (N.D. Ill. 2005)). The Village argues that Plaintiff's proposed class definition violates this principle because it improperly includes members whose claims are barred by the applicable statute of limitations.

There is no dispute that "individuals with time-barred claims may not be included within a proposed class." Daniels v. Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, 194 F.R.D. 609, 618 (N.D. Ill. 2000) (quoting Sample v. Aldi Inc., No. 93 C 3094, 1994 WL 48780, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 15, 1994)). In Illinois, § 1983 claims such as Plaintiff's are subject to a two year statute of limitations. Dominguez v. Hendley, 545 F.3d 585, 588 (7th Cir. 2008). Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on May 18, 2011, at which point the statute of limitations was tolled for all unnamed class members. See Larson v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., 530 F.3d 578, 582 (7th Cir. 2008). Thus, the putative class can include any individual who was charged a booking fee on or after May 18, 2009.

The Village argues that the Court should deny class certification altogether because the class definition could be read to include potential plaintiffs who were arrested prior to May 18, 2009. (Doc. 29, at 5). Plaintiff disagrees that the definition is improper, but suggests that the Court modify the language to clarify the applicable time-frame. (Doc. 37, at 2) (citing In re Motorola Sec. Litig., 644 F.3d 511, 518 (7th Cir. 2011) ("[A] district court has the authority to modify a class definition at different stages in litigation.")). The Court finds Plaintiff's proposed solution both appropriate and reasonable, and adopts the following class definition:

[a]ll individuals who, on or after May 18, 2009, were deprived of their property pursuant to Downers Grove Municipal Ordinance 17.3.2 without being provided the ...


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