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Gentlemen Gaming, Ltd v. City of East Peoria

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division

December 23, 2019

GENTLEMEN GAMING, LTD, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF EAST PEORIA, TY LIVINGSTON as Zoning Administrator, & ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS for East Peoria, Defendants.

          ORDER & OPINION

          JOE BILLY MCDADE UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim and attendant memorandum (Docs. 10, 11) and Plaintiff's response thereto (Doc. 14). On November 5, 2019, the Court requested supplemental memoranda from the parties; they timely complied with that request (Docs. 16, 17). The Motion is now ripe for review. For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion is granted.

         Background[1]

         The parties have been embroiled in disputes over the property at issue for some time now. (See Docs. 4 at 3-12, 11-1, 11-2, 11-3). The Court will limit this section to the procedural history relevant to this decision.

         On April 1, 2019, the Defendant Ty Livingston, Zoning Administrator, issued a Notice of Violation to Plaintiff Gentlemen Gaming, LTD, on behalf of Defendant City of East Peoria. (Doc. 11-1 at 24).[2] The Notice stated:

YOU ARE HEREBY NOTIFIED that as of the date of this notice, the above-listed property is in violation of Section 5-10-3 of the East Peoria Zoning Code . . . as you are causing, permitting, or allowing a junkyard; the processing of mineral products, including stone and gravel; and the outdoor storage of materials, goods or products to exist on the Property without a special use permit.

(Doc. 11-1 at 24).

         Plaintiff timely appealed the Zoning Administrator's decision to Defendant East Peoria Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). The ZBA held a public hearing on the matter, at which Plaintiff's attorney presented evidence and argument and examined witnesses. (Doc. 11-1 at 4, 6-13). The evidence included photographs of the property at issue, which depicted, inter alia, several inoperable motor vehicles; piles of tires; sheet metal and rusty metal objects and strips; piles of wood, trees, and brush; and piles of concrete with rebar located on the property. (Doc. 11-1 at 37-49; Doc. 11-2 at 1-8). After hearing the evidence and argument, the ZBA went into closed session to discuss the matter; upon reentering open session, the ZBA unanimously voted to uphold the violation. (Doc. 11-1 at 13-14). A written decision outlining the ZBA's decision was subsequently issued. (Doc. 11-3 at 33-35).

         Legal Standard[3]

         “To survive a motion to dismiss the complaint must ‘state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.' ” Doe v. Columbia Coll. Chi., 933 F.3d 849, 854 (7th Cir. 2019) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). This requires the plaintiff to “plead particularized factual content, not conclusory allegations, that allows the court to plausibly infer the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct.” Id. (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). The complaint “must give enough details about the subject matter of the case to present a story that holds together.” Vanzant v. Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc., 934 F.3d 730, 736 (7th Cir. 2019) (quoting Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 404 (7th Cir. 2010)). Additionally, the court “accept[s] all well-pleaded facts as true and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” Doe, 933 F.3d at 854.

         Discussion

         Plaintiff raises several federal and state claims respecting the administrative procedure below. Defendants argue each should be dismissed. The Court will address each claim in turn.

         I. Procedural Due Process Claims - Counts I and II

         Counts I and II of Plaintiff's Complaint challenge different aspects of the administrative proceeding below on procedural grounds. In Count I, Plaintiff alleges he was not “afforded the due process of the due process of law in violation of Fourth, [4]Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. [sic] Constitution” because the Zoning Administrator did not cite the specific provision of the zoning code Plaintiff was accused of violating.[5] (Doc. 4 at 6). In Count II, ...


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