Platt v. Brown et al
MEMORANDUM Opinion and Order Signed by the Honorable John Z. Lee on 3/31/17.Mailed notice(ca, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
MICHAEL PLATT, individually and
on behalf of all others similarly situated,
DOROTHY BROWN, as Clerk of the
Circuit Court of Cook County, and
MARIA PAPPAS, as Treasurer of the
Cook County Treasurer’s Office,
16 C 3898
Judge John Z. Lee
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Michael Platt, individually and on behalf of a putative class, has sued Clerk of the
Circuit Court of Cook County Dorothy Brown and Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas in their official
capacities. Platt alleges that Defendants have violated his due process and equal protection rights as
guaranteed under the United States and Illinois Constitutions by collecting a bail bond fee equivalent to
1% of the bail amount. He also asserts that this practice violates the uniformity clause of the Illinois
Constitution and constitutes unjust enrichment under Illinois common law. Defendants have moved to
dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons given below,
the Court grants Defendants’ motion to dismiss.
Any criminal defendant arrested in Cook County, for whom bail is set, may secure his or her
pretrial release by depositing 10% of the full bail amount with the Clerk’s Office. Compl. ¶ 19. Prior to
January 1, 2016, once the defendant’s criminal case had progressed to the point when bond was no longer
necessary, the Clerk’s Office returned 90% of the 10% deposit to the criminal defendant, while retaining
the remaining 10% of the deposit as a bail bond fee. Id. ¶ 20; see 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/110-7(f). For
example, if a defendant’s bail were set at $10,000, he would pay a $1,000 deposit to secure his pretrial
release. At the end of the case, assuming that the defendant complied with the conditions of the bond, he
would receive back $900 from the Clerk’s Office, and the Clerk’s Office would keep $100 of the deposit
as a bail bond fee. Compl. ¶ 29. Alternatively, a defendant could secure the full amount of the bond
using cash, stocks, bonds, or real estate, in which case he would not be required to pay a deposit or fee at
all. See 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/110-8.
In 2014, Plaintiff Platt was arrested after a bar fight that resulted in the death of another person.
Compl. ¶ 34. The Cook County State’s Attorney Office charged Platt with first-degree murder. Id. ¶ 35.
A judge set Platt’s bail at $2 million, and Platt paid a deposit of $200,000 to secure his release pending
trial. Id. ¶¶ 36, 38. After Platt was acquitted, the Clerk’s Office returned his deposit, less a $20,000 bail
bond fee. Id. ¶ 42. According to the complaint, the actual cost of processing a criminal defendant’s bond
is “$100 or less.” Id. ¶ 44.
In 2015, the Illinois General Assembly proposed an amendment to the bond statute that would
cap bail bond fees in Cook County at $100. Id. ¶ 49; see Compl., Ex. 1. The Governor signed the
amendment into law on August 20, 2015, and it became effective on January 1, 2016. Id. ¶ 55. Platt
brings an action on behalf of all individuals who paid a bail bond fee of more than $100 for the five years
prior to January 1, 2016. Id. ¶ 10.
A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Furthermore, 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). Although the complaint does not have to include “detailed factual allegations,” it must
“include sufficient facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009); see Cole v. Milwaukee Area Tech. Coll. Dist., 634 F.3d 901, 903 (7th Cir. 2011).
In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, 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.” Cole, 634 F.3d at 903. “A copy of a written instrument that is an exhibit to a
pleading is a part of the pleading for all purposes.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(c).
Motion to Dismiss Counts I and II: Due Process
In Counts I and II, Platt alleges that a bail bond fee that exceeds $100 violates the Due Process
Clauses of the United States and Illinois Constitutions. Specifically, Platt contends that the collection of
such a fee violates substantive due process because the fee does not relate to the cost of administering a
bail bond (which Plaintiff asserts is $100) and, therefore, its collection “impedes the due administration of
justice.” Compl. ¶¶ 26, 67, 72. In addition, Platt asserts that the collection of fees exceeding $100
violates procedural due process because, on balance, the private interest in receiving back the remaining
ten-percent of the deposit outweighs the state’s interest in collecting such fees, especially in light of what
Platt characterizes as the lack of procedural safeguards around imposition of the bail fee itself.
The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment provides: “[N]or shall any State deprive
any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” U.S. Const. amend. XIV. “[T]he
Due Process Clause specially protects those fundamental rights and liberties which are, objectively,
deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition, and implicit in the concept of ordered liberty, such
that neither liberty nor justice would exist if they were sacrificed.” Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 US.
702, 720–21 (1997).
The Supreme Court has cautioned against “expand[ing] the concept of substantive due process
because guideposts for responsible decisionmaking in this unchartered area are scarce and openended.”
Id. at 720. Rights that have been recognized as fundamental are limited to: “the rights to marry, to have
children, to direct the education and upbringing of one’s children, to marital privacy, to use contraception,
to bodily integrity, and to abortion[.]” Id. (citations omitted).
“Unless a governmental practice encroaches on a fundamental right, substantive due process
requires only that the practice be rationally related to a legitimate government interest, or alternatively
phrased, that the practice be neither arbitrary nor irrational. Lee v. City of Chi., 330 F.3d 456, 467 (7th
Cir. 2003). Furthermore, “[i]t is by now well established that legislative Acts adjusting the burdens and
benefits of economic life come to the Court with a presumption of constitutionality, and that the burden is
on one complaining of a due process violation to establish that the legislature has acted in an arbitrary and
irrational way.” Usery v. Turner Elkhorn Mining Co., 428 U.S. 1, 15 (1976). In this vein, courts have
emphasized that “substantive due process is not ‘a blanket protection against unjustifiable interferences
with property.’” Lee v. City of Chi., 330 F.3d 456, 467 (7th Cir. 2003) (quoting Schroeder v. City of
Chi., 927 F.2d 957, 961 (7th Cir. 1991)).
The bail bond fee at issue in this case does not encroach on any of the above-listed fundamental
rights. Nor does it have the potential of negatively affecting a criminal defendant’s liberty because the fee
is exacted at the end of the criminal case when the bond deposit is partially refunded. Accordingly, the
bail bond fee need only be rationally related to a legitimate government interest. See Turner v. Glickman,
207 F.3d 419, 426 (7th Cir. 2000) (where a statute does not implicate a fundamental right, “substantive
due process requires only that the statutory imposition not be completely arbitrary and lacking any
rational connection to a legitimate government interest) (citations omitted).
The United States Supreme Court in Schilb v. Kuebel, 404 U.S. 357, 370 (1972), analyzed the
same Illinois statute at issue here and rejected a due process challenge to the bail bond fee requirement.
Id. at 370. The Court found the fee to be administrative, concluding that the scheme “smacks of
administrative detail” and noted that there was no fundamental right to be free of administrative costs. Id.
Applying the highly-deferential rational basis test, the Supreme Court then concluded that the fees were
related to Illinois’ legitimate interest in reforming its bail system, which essentially put professional bail
bondsmen out of business and shifted the system of administering bail bonds to the courts. 404 U.S. at
Platt argues that Schilb does not foreclose his substantive due process claim because, according to
him, Schilb involved a facial challenge to the bail bond statute, whereas he challenges the statute as
applied to him. But, regardless of the theory on which the Illinois bail bond statute is challenged, Schilb’s
holding is dispositive of Platt’s claim. Under Schilb, Illinois’ bail bond statute satisfies due process
because the 1% administrative fee bears a rational relationship to Illinois’ legitimate interest in defraying
the expenses of administering the bail bond system as a whole.
Thus, Schilb’s holding governs,
regardless of whether the administrative fee is $200 or $20,000.
For his part, Platt would have the Court adopt a test that focuses on the relationship between the
particular administrative fee and the transaction costs of processing the specific bail bond in question. 1
But that was not the test employed by the Supreme Court in Schilb. Rather, the Court compared the bond
fee in relation to the costs of administering the bail bond system in toto. Id. at 367–68, 370–71; see also
Markodonatos v. Vill. of Woodridge, 760 F.3d 545, 547 (7th Cir. 2014) (en banc) (Posner, J.) (plurality
opinion) (“[T]he constitutionality of a fee for a government service does not depend on proof of an exact
equality between the cost of the service and the size of the fee.”).
It is important to point out that Platt does not challenge the finding of probable cause for his
arrest, the amount of his bail, or the statutory process by which the state court judge determined the
amount of the bail. Nor does Platt argue that the 1% fee had any impact on his ability to satisfy his bail
by posting the necessary bond and obtaining his pretrial release. Compare Payton v. Cty. of Carroll, 473
F.3d 845, 851 (7th Cir. 2007) (“The private interest that is affected by the official action here [i.e., the
requirement that a defendant pay administrative fee to sheriff when posting bond] is the detainee’s liberty
interest.”). Rather, Platt’s claim focuses on the amount of the 1% bond fee in his case. But “[p]robable
cause justifie[s] substantial burdens,” including financial ones, see Markodonatos, 760 F.3d at 553
(Easterbrook, J., concurring), and “[t]he right to bail, like the right to travel abroad, is a valuable right for
The cases upon which Platt relies are readily distinguishable. American Trucking Associations,
Inc. v. Scheiner, involved a challenge to a flat tax under the Commerce Clause. 483 U.S. 266, 289–90
(1987). Loretto v. Teleprompter Manhattan CATV Corp. dealt with a challenge to government action
under the Takings Clause. 458 U.S. 419, 434–35 (1982). And State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance
Co. v. Campbell was a challenge to a jury verdict. 538 U.S. 408, 417, 419–20, 425 (2003).
which the person seeking it, whether guilty or innocent, must pay,” id. at 547 (Posner, J.) (plurality
For these reasons, Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s substantive due process claim is
Procedural Due Process
Platt also raises a procedural due process challenge to the bail bond fee. Mathews v. Eldridge
established the prevailing test for determining whether a plaintiff has stated a claim for a violation of
procedural due process. 424 U.S. 319, 335 (1976). Under this test, the court weighs three factors: (1) the
private interest to be affected by the government’s action; (2) the risk of an erroneous deprivation by the
procedure currently used and the value of additional procedural safeguards; and (3) the government’s
interest, including any administrative or financial burdens that additional procedural safeguards would
With respect to the first factor, because there is no fundamental right to be free from
administrative fees, Schilb, 404 U.S. at 365, the payment of a bond fee does not “trigger any heightened
level of private interest,” see Broussard v. Parish of Orleans, 318 F.3d 644, 654–56 (5th Cir. 2003).
Furthermore, as stated above, because payment of the bail bond fee is not a condition of release (but
rather a cost associated with the refund process), it does not implicate a liberty interest. See id. at 655.
Turning to the second Mathews factor, the risk of erroneous deprivation is minimal here. As the
Supreme Court recognized in Schilb, in Illinois, a criminal defendant appears before a criminal trial judge,
who holds a bail hearing to determine the appropriate amount of bail. 404 U.S. at 362. In making that
determination, the judge considers a host of factors, including but not limited to: (1) the nature and
circumstances of the offense charged; (2) whether violence was involved; (3) the condition of the victim;
(4) the weight of the evidence against the defendant; (5) the likelihood of conviction and the sentence
applicable upon conviction; (6) whether the defendant has motivation or ability to flee; (7) whether the
defendant has family ties in the local jurisdiction, in another county, state or foreign country; and (8) the
defendant’s employment, financial resources, character, mental condition, and past conduct. 725 Ill.
Comp. Stat. 5/110-5(a). In addition, the judge sets an amount of bail that he or she finds is not oppressive
and reflects the financial ability of the accused. Id. 5/110-5(b). If a defendant believes that the trial court
has set too high a bail, the defendant may move to reduce the bond. See 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/110-6; see
Payton, 473 F.3d at 851–52 (“The opportunity to seek a reduction in bail is the procedure currently
available to minimize whatever risk remains.”); People v. Lilly, 53 N.E.3d 1028, 1041 (Ill. App. Ct.
2016). Given that Illinois law provides a number of precautions with regard to the setting of the proper
bail amount, the Court finds that the risk of erroneous deprivation is low.
Moreover, there is an extremely low risk of improperly calculating the actual bond fee (1% of the
total bail amount) to be withheld because this calculation is a ministerial matter with no discretion given
to the Office of the Clerk. See Sickles v. Campbell Cty., 501 F.3d 726, 730 (6th Cir. 2007) (“The
withholding of funds involves elementary accounting that has little risk of error and is nondiscretionary.”); Broussard, 318 F.3d at 655 (holding that there was a low risk of erroneous deprivation in
part because the procedures for calculating the bail fees were clear).
As for the third factor, the State of Illinois argues that it has an interest in collecting the bond fee
for the purpose of funding bail administration, which includes the costs of handling bail bonds. This
point is well-taken. Illinois has an interest in collecting fees to support the administration of the entire
bail system, even if the connection between the fees charged and the administration of the system is not
completely clear. See Broussard, 318 F.3d at 660 (absent arbitrariness of fees imposed, even a tenuous
connection between bail fees charged and administration of bond system suffices).
The State also has an interest in an easily administrable system. The Fifth Circuit in Broussard
indicated that the government had an interest in conserving resources and not having to implement any
additional procedural requirements around collecting bond fees. 318 F.3d at 656. The Third Circuit in
Buckland v. Montgomery County approved a bail bond system that withheld a percentage fee from every
bond deposit, stating, “the percentage method has the virtue of simplicity in its administration, and we
cannot conclude that a higher bail may not have a correlation with the increased risk and consequential
expense of flight and apprehension.” 812 F.2d 146, 149 (3d Cir. 1987).
When the Mathews factors are weighed, this Court concludes that Platt has not stated a claim for
procedural due process. The private interest at stake is minimal, outweighed by the government interests
in funding and maintaining an easy-to-administer bail system. Furthermore, the procedural safeguards
with regard to the judicial determination of the total bail amount, as well as the ministerial 1% fee
calculation, indicate that the risk of erroneous deprivation is low.
Accordingly, the Court concludes that Platt has failed to state a plausible procedural due process
claim in light of Schilb and its progeny. Counts I and II are dismissed for failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted.
II. Motion to Dismiss Counts III & IV: Equal Protection
In Counts III and IV, Platt claims that bail fees exceeding $100 violate the Equal Protection
Clauses of the United States and Illinois Constitutions as well as the Illinois Constitution’s uniformity
clause. Once again, Schilb is instructive. The Schilb court held that because there is no fundamental right
to be free of administrative fees, the bail statute does not violate equal protection so long as there is a
rational basis for treating accused persons differently with regard to bail fees. 404 U.S. at 485. Here,
Platt alleges that the actual costs incurred by the Cook County Clerk’s Office in processing bail bonds are
$100 or less for all accused persons. According to Platt, therefore, requiring any defendant to pay more
than that is irrational and arbitrary. Defendants disagree and again assert that bail fees do not merely
cover bond processing costs but also defray the cost of the bail system as a whole.
When the legislature reformed the system of bail in Illinois in the mid-60’s, its reform shifted the
burden and concomitant costs of administering the bail system from private bail bondsmen to the courts.
Id. at 483 n.8. From then on, it fell to the courts to employ personnel to collect bail deposits, administer
bond processing costs, and distribute refunds. To this end, the 1% across-the-board bail fee represents an
easy-to-administer method of funding the bail system that may reflect underfunding with regard to
defendants with low bail amounts and overfunding with regard to defendants with high bail amounts.
Given that Illinois’ bail reform involved shifting the lion’s share of the burden of administering the entire
bail system to the courts, Platt’s allegations fail to plausibly show that charging some criminal defendants
over $100 in bail fees is not rational related to the state’s interest in administering the bail system as a
whole. See Turner, 207 F.3d at 426 (noting the “highly deferential” nature of rational basis review).
That the Illinois legislature has now amended the bail statute to cap bail fees at $100 does not
mean it lacked a rational basis for previously charging more than that if bail was set higher than $10,000.
Rather, the Illinois legislature appears to have chosen to decrease the extent to which bail fees fund the
bail system. Simply put, limiting the source of funding to cover the costs of the bail system does not
mean that those costs ceased to exist.
Rather, it merely means that the funds must be generated
Platt supplements his equal protection claim with arguments about the inherent unfairness of
having some individuals pay $20,000 for the same service that others are receiving for $25. In support,
Platt relies on statements made by a single state legislator and a single Cook County Board Commissioner
regarding the perceived unfairness of the 1% bail fee. This argument is unpersuasive. Stray statements
by individual legislators have little bearing on Court’s analysis regarding the constitutionality of Illinois’
bail bond scheme. See Jeroski v. Federal Mine Safety & Health Review Comm’n, 697 F.3d 651, 655 (7th
Cir. 2012) (discussing committee reports and stray comments by individual legislator and stating that
“[i]nferring collective intent is often a hazardous enterprise.”). Moreover, Platt’s fairness argument
ignores that the differences between a criminal defendant who is subject to a low bail amount and another
who receives a much higher bail amount, including greater risk of flight and endangerment to the
community, which in turn may necessitate greater supervision and possible revocation and detention, as
well as the potential of a much lengthier term of imprisonment upon conviction. See Schilb, 404 U.S. at
367 (noting the state’s rational need to address “the expenses that inevitably are incurred when bail is
Next, Platt also alleges that charging bail fees in excess of $100 violates the Illinois
Constitution’s uniformity clause. The uniformity clause states, “[i]n any law classifying the subjects or
objects of non-property taxes or fees, the classes shall be reasonable and the subjects and objects within
each class shall be taxed uniformly.” Ill. Const. 1970, art. IX, § 2.
“In a uniformity-clause challenge, . . . the scope of a court’s inquiry is relatively narrow.”
Empress Casino Joliet Corp. v. Giannoulias, 942 N.E.2d 783, 788 (Ill. App. Ct. 2011) (internal citations
“The relevant question is not whether the differences among [the classes] are real and
substantial but, rather, whether the differences are so great that the legislature’s decision to impose the fee
upon all [entities] in . . . a single class bears no reasonable relationship to the object of the fee.” Mellon v.
Coffelt, 730 N.E.2d 102, 108 (Ill. App. Ct. 2000). A court “will uphold a taxing classification if a set of
facts can be reasonably conceived that would sustain it.” Friedman v. White, 42 N.E.3d 902, 911 (Ill.
App. Ct. 2015).
In Mutual Tobacco Co., Inc. v. Halpin, 111 N.E.2d 155, 159 (Ill. 1953), an economy-brand
cigarette distributor challenged an Illinois statute on the basis of the uniformity clause. The statute taxed
all cigarette distributors 1.5 mills per cigarette regardless of the cost of the cigarette. Id. The plaintiff
argued that the statute effected economy-brand cigarette distributors to a greater extent than luxury-brand
cigarette distributors because plaintiff paid $184 in tax on $1000 worth of its cigarettes, while a luxury
brand distributor only paid $95. Id. at 158. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the
complaint, holding that the tax did not lack uniformity as to the class upon which it operated, namely
cigarette distributors. Id. The court stated that, even though the tax was not “the most equitable one that
could be devised, . . . [p]erfect equality and uniformity of taxation as regards individuals . . . is a dream
unrealized.” Id. at 159.
Here, too, Defendants withhold 1% of the entire bail amount from all criminal defendants who
pay a bail deposit, and the statute results in different bail fees depending on the amount of bail that a
judge deems appropriate. As discussed above, imposing the 1% bail fee upon all criminal defendants who
pay a bail deposit bears a reasonable relationship to the object of the fee: to defray the costs of the bail
system. As in Mutual Tobacco, although the 1% fee may not the most equitable one that could be
devised, the fee does not violate the uniformity clause.
For these reasons, the Court grants Defendants’ motion to dismiss the equal protection clause and
uniformity clause claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
III. Motion to Dismiss Count V: Unjust Enrichment
In Count V, Platt claims that Defendants have been unjustly enriched by collecting invalid and
unconstitutional bail bond fees to which they were not entitled. Compl. ¶ 84. Because the Court holds
that assessing all criminal defendants a bail bond fee of 1% of the total bail amount passes constitutional
muster, the Court grants Defendants’ motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can
See Cleary v. Philip Morris Inc., 656 F.3d 511, 517 (7th Cir. 2011) (“[I]f an unjust
enrichment claim rests on the same improper conduct alleged in another claim, then the unjust enrichment
claim . . . will stand or fall with the related claim.”).
For the reasons stated herein, Defendants’ motion to dismiss  is granted. This case is hereby
IT IS SO ORDERED.
John Z. Lee
United States District Judge
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