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Markadonatos v. Village of Woodridge

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

January 8, 2014

Jerry G. MARKADONATOS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
VILLAGE OF WOODRIDGE, Defendant-Appellee.

Argued May 30, 2013.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Peter S. Lubin, Vincent L. Ditommaso, Ditommaso-Lubin, Oakbrook Terrace, IL, James Shedden, Deer Park, IL, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Christopher Keleher, Keleher Appellate Law Group, Brandon K. Lemley, Querrey & Harrow, Chicago, IL, for Defendant-Appellee.

Before SYKES and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges, and STADTMUELLER, District Judge.[*]

STADTMUELLER, District Judge.

Under Title 5 of its Village Code, the Village of Woodridge charges every arrestee in its custody a $30 booking fee. Indeed, after Woodridge police arrested the plaintiff-appellant for retail theft on January 8, 2011, the Village collected its $30 booking fee from him, without any opportunity to contest that collection either before or after the fee was taken. Mr. Markadonatos is not alone— Woodridge has taken the same $30 fee from each of the

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large number of people arrested and booked in its vicinity. Thus, Mr. Markadonatos filed the putative class action suit at hand, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, asserting that Woodridge's booking fee violates both the procedural and substantive due process rights of the class members. The district judge dismissed Mr. Markadonatos' initial and amended complaints, finding that Mr. Markadonatos had not stated a claim for relief. We agree. Mr. Markadonatos' procedural due process argument necessarily fails, and he lacks standing to seek relief under a substantive due process claim. We therefore affirm the decision of the district court.

I. Background

Woodridge enacted Municipal Code 5-1-12(A), which imposes a $30.00 booking fee on any person subject to a custodial arrest. (Am.Compl.¶ 12). Woodridge collects this fee without any hearing, and does not offer arrestees any opportunity to challenge the deprivation or seek reimbursement. (Am.Compl.¶¶ 16-17).

Mr. Markadonatos was arrested and charged with retail theft on January 8, 2011, and taken to jail. (Am.Compl.¶¶ 18-19). He was booked, and at that time, Woodridge collected its $30.00 booking fee from him. (Am.Compl.¶ 20). Woodridge provided Mr. Markadonatos with a booking fee receipt, but did not ever provide him with a hearing at which he could challenge the booking fee. (Am.Compl.¶ 20).

Thereafter, a court ordered that Mr. Markadonatos undergo a period of supervision, pursuant to Illinois law. (Am.Compl.¶ 21). Mr. Markadonatos successfully completed that period of supervised release, and therefore received an adjudication of " not guilty" on his record. (Am.Compl.¶ 22). Despite that favorable adjudication, Mr. Markadonatos never had an opportunity to seek the return of his booking fee, and he has never received a refund of the money that Woodridge seized from him. (Am.Compl.¶¶ 23, 24).

Accordingly, he filed suit on behalf of himself and all of the arrestees who have been charged the booking fee, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, arguing that the lack of a procedure to challenge the booking fee, as applied to each of arrestee individually, violates the arrestees' procedural and substantive due process rights. (Am.Compl.¶¶ 1, 27-28, 35-44).

After allowing Mr. Markadonatos to file an amended complaint, the district court dismissed the case for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, without ruling on the plaintiff's motion to certify a class. (Order, 7/10/12, at 7, 9).

Mr. Markadonatos appealed that decision to this Court, arguing that the district court erred in dismissing his amended complaint. We disagree and affirm.

II. Discussion

The parties' briefs and arguments have focused upon substantive issues relating to procedural and substantive due process, but before we reach those substantive arguments, we must first address the issue of standing. We, of course, lack jurisdiction over this matter, as did the district judge, to the extent that we determine that the plaintiff's allegations do not establish a " case or controversy." See, e.g., Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 119 L.Ed.2d 351 (1992).

After we make the standing determination, we may then turn to the substantive legal issues. In doing so, first, we must determine whether the district court erred in concluding that Woodridge's booking fee does not violate the procedural due process rights of Mr. Markadonatos. Second, we must decide whether the district court erred in dismissing Mr. Markadonatos'

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substantive due process challenge to the Woodridge booking fee.

It is important to distinguish between Mr. Markadonatos' procedural and substantive due process claims, for the two concepts are distinct from one another. Procedural due process rights guarantee that the state not deprive an individual of his or her property without providing adequate procedural safeguards against the erroneous deprivation thereof. See, e.g., Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 334-35, 96 S.Ct. 893, 47 L.Ed.2d 18 (1976). To determine whether an individual's procedural due process rights have been violated, courts generally perform a three-part balancing test, first outlined by the Supreme Court in Mathews. The right to substantive due process, on the other hand, is more nebulous, and typically employed by courts to protect against arbitrary state action that shocks the conscience. County of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833, 846, 118 S.Ct. 1708, 140 L.Ed.2d 1043 (1998); Montgomery v. Stefaniak, 410 F.3d 933, 939 (7th Cir.2005).

Regardless of the differences between the concepts, Mr. Markadonatos' arguments on both procedural and substantive due process present primarily legal issues, which we review de novo. Ray v. City of Chicago, 629 F.3d 660, 662 (7th Cir.2011).

A. Standing

There are essentially three elements for standing. First, the plaintiff must have suffered an " injury in fact," requiring an invasion of the plaintiff's legally protected interest that is both concrete and particularized and actual or imminent. Second, the injury must have been caused by the conduct he complains of. And, third, it must be likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that a decision in the plaintiff's favor will redress his injury. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. at 560-61, 112 S.Ct. 2130.

Here, our standing concerns stem primarily from the plaintiff's asserted injury in fact.[1] Mr. Markadonatos complains that he was deprived of $30 as a result of Woodridge's collection of the booking fee. And, indeed, Woodridge's collection of $30 is concrete, particularized, and actually did occur.

However, we still question whether Woodridge's collection of the booking fee was an invasion of Mr. Markadonatos' legal rights, particularly with regard to his substantive due process claim. On his procedural due process claim, Mr. Markadonatos has pled that he was deprived of $30 without a legally adequate opportunity to challenge that deprivation. And, to the extent that he is correct, he has standing to assert that claim, although this analysis requires us to delve more deeply into the substantive aspects of Mr. Markadonatos' procedural due process claim.

His substantive due process claim, on the other hand, gives us pause. Whereas Mr. Markadonatos' procedural due process claim clearly identifies Woodridge's alleged invasion of legal rights by its very nature— deprivation of property without legally adequate process— Mr. Markadonatos' substantive due process claim presents a much vaguer alleged invasion. He attempts to argue that collection of the $30 fee from individuals like him who have been adjudicated " not guilty" violates substantive due process. Mr. Markadonatos' situation, however, is much narrower than that. In fact, he was arrested for cause and was adjudicated not guilty only after completing a term of supervision as a result

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of admitting the factual basis for the charges against him. See 730 ILCS 5/5-6-1(c), 5/5-6-3.1(e), 5/5-6-3.1(f). In the narrowest sense, the eventual not guilty adjudication is largely irrelevant, as Woodridge collected the booking fee on the basis of the arrest. Thus, the fact of a for-cause arrest is much more probative of the question of whether collection of the booking fee from a custodial arrestee who was arrested for cause violates substantive due process. It is certainly a relevant aspect of Woodridge's collection of the booking fee from Mr. Markadonatos, and cannot be ignored as part of the factual background behind the imposition of the fee. As such, insofar as Mr. Markadonatos wishes to challenge Woodridge's booking fee on the basis of substantive due process, he may do so only to the extent that Woodridge's ordinance actually applied to him, as a for-cause arrestee who was later adjudicated not guilty.[2] Therefore, in addressing Mr. Markadonatos' substantive due process claim, the Court will confine its analysis to addressing the substantive due process implications of imposing the booking fee upon for-cause arrestees taken into custody.

B. Procedural Due Process

Having found that Mr. Markadonatos has standing to assert his procedural due process claim to the extent he has alleged an invasion of his legally-protected interests, we must perform the Mathews v. Eldridge balancing test to determine whether Mr. Markadonatos stated a claim for a procedural due process violation. Under that test, we must balance (1) Mr. Markadonatos' private interest in his $30; (2) the risk of erroneous deprivation under Woodridge's ordinance and probable value of any additional safeguards; and (3) the Government's interest, " including the function involved and the fiscal and administrative burdens that the additional or substitute procedural requirement would entail." Mathews, 424 U.S. at 334-35, 96 S.Ct. 893. Applying this balancing test, we must conclude that the district court was correct in holding that Mr. Markadonatos cannot state a procedural due process violation based upon Woodridge's booking fee ordinance. We therefore affirm that aspect of the district court's decision.

1. Mr. Markadonatos' Private Interest

Without a doubt, Mr. Markadonatos has an interest in retaining his $30. That amount is small, and Woodridge is certainly correct to point out that such small cash amounts are generally given little weight under the Mathews balancing test. (Appellee's Br. at 8-9) (citing Van Harken v. Chicago, 103 F.3d 1346, 1353 (7th Cir.1997); Sickles v. Campbell Cty., 501 F.3d 726, 729-30 (6th Cir.2007); Slade v. Hampton Roads, 407 F.3d 243, 247, 251-53 (4th Cir.2005); Broussard v. Parish of Orleans, 318 F.3d 644, 647-48, 657 (5th Cir.2003)). Nonetheless, we must conclude that the $30 fee is entitled to at least some weight in the balancing scheme.

2. Risk of Erroneous Deprivation

The risk of an erroneous deprivation, here, is practically non-existent. Furthermore, to the extent that any deprivation does exist, additional safeguards ...

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