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Jerry G. Markadonatos, and All Others Similarly Situated v. Village of Woodbridge

January 6, 2012

JERRY G. MARKADONATOS, AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
VILLAGE OF WOODBRIDGE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. Holderman Chief Judge, United States District Court

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER JAMES F. HOLDERMAN, Chief Judge:

Jerry G. Markadonatos alleges in his complaint that the Village of Woodbridge violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by failing to provide due process before requiring him to pay a $30 booking fee following his arrest for shoplifting. (Dkt. No. 1 ("Compl.").) Pending before the court is the Village's "Motion to Dismiss" under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. (Dkt. No. 17.) Based upon the reasons explained below, the Village's Motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

According to the complaint, Markadonatos was arrested on January 8, 2011 and charged with retail theft. (Compl. ¶ 14.) He was taken to the Woodbridge jail, where he was booked and requried to pay a $30 booking fee under the Woodbridge, Illinois, Municipal Code 5-1-12(A).*fn1 (Compl. ¶¶ 15-16.) Eventually Markadonatos received supervision for his retail theft charge. (Id. ¶ 17.) Under Illinois law, if he completes the supervision successfully, the charge will be dismissed "without adjudication of guilt." 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/5-6-3.1(f). When Markadonatos was released from jail, he did not receive a refund of the booking fee. (Compl. ¶¶ 18-20.) The Village's booking fee policy includes no provision for a refund regardless of the disposition of the arrestee's case. (Compl. ¶ 13.)

LEGAL STANDARD

Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint need only contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). The complaint must "give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While "detailed factual allegations" are not required, "labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

The complaint must "include sufficient facts 'to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'" Cole v. Milwaukee Area Tech. College Dist., 634 F.3d 901, 903 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Justice v. Town of Cicero, 577 F.3d 768, 771 (7th Cir. 2009)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). In ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court "construe[s] the . . . [c]omplaint in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, accepting as true all well-pleaded facts and drawing all possible inferences in his favor. Id.

ANALYSIS

To state a claim for relief under § 1983, Markadonatos must allege that he was "deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, and that the alleged deprivation was committed under color of state law." Am. Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 49-50 (1999). Here, Markadonatos's complaint alleges that the Village, a state actor, violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to procedural due process by imposing the $30 booking fee without applying appropriate procedures. Markadonatos contends that merely alleging that the Village, a state actor, deprived him of his right to procedural due process is sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss, and that the court need not evaluate whether he has alleged a valid procedural due process claim under the familiar Mathews v. Eldridge*fn2 test. That contention is incorrect, because "labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Instead, Markadonatos must show that his claims are plausible, which includes a showing that the alleged facts, if true, make out a due process violation under Eldridge. See Payton v. Cnty. of Carroll, 473 F.3d 845, 851 (7th Cir. 2007) (noting that on an appeal from the granting of a motion to dismiss, "it would have been prudent for the plaintiffs to have said more about Mathews v. Eldridge"). The court will accordingly evaluate whether Markadonatos has alleged a valid violation of his right to procedural due process.

When examining procedural due process claims, the court must first ask "whether there exists a liberty or property interest which has been interfered with by the state," and second determine "whether the procedures attendant upon that deprivation were constitutionally sufficient." Ky. Dep't of Corr. v. Thompson, 490 U.S. 454, 460 (1989). Here, the parties do not dispute that Markadonatos has a property interest in his money. See Bd. of Regents of State Colleges v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 571 (1972) ("[P]roperty interests protected by procedural due process extend well beyond actual ownership of real estate, chattels, or money.").

The only question is therefore whether the procedures leading to the deprivation of that interest were sufficient. To make that inquiry, the court must consider three factors:

First, the private interest that will be affected by the official action; second, the risk of an erroneous deprivation of such interest through the procedures used, and the probable value, if any, of additional or substitute procedural safeguards; and finally, the Government's interest, including the function involved and the fiscal and administrative burdens that the additional or substitute procedural requirement would entail.

Eldridge, 424 U.S. ...


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