Martin v. City of Fort Wayne
OPINION AND ORDER: DENYING 9 Motion for Class Certification; GRANTING 16 Motion to Amend Complaint. The Plaintiff is directed to file the First Amended Complaint - Class Action that was attached to his Motion to Amend. Signed by Judge Theresa L Springmann on 9/20/16. (jld)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
FORT WAYNE DIVISION
CITY OF FORT WAYNE,
CAUSE NO.: 1:15-CV-384-TLS
OPINION AND ORDER
The Plaintiff, MarQuayle Martin, has sued the City of Fort Wayne pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, asserting that the City’s vehicle impoundment policy violates the Fourth Amendment
protection against unreasonable seizures, and violates the Fourteenth Amendment right to due
process. The Plaintiff’s Complaint is styled as a class action; he seeks to proceed on behalf of
himself and other similarly-situated individuals. This matter is before the Court on the
Defendant’s Motion to Deny Class Certification [ECF No. 9], and on the Plaintiff’s Motion to
Amend Complaint [ECF No. 16]. According to the Plaintiff, the amendment is necessary to
redefine the class, properly allege the law applicable to the substantive claims of the class, allege
that the Plaintiff seeks class certification pursuant to all the required elements of Rule 23(a), as
well as the requirements of Rule 23(b)(3), and to delete any reference to qualifying the class
under Rule 23(b)(2). The Defendant counters that, even if the Complaint is amended, the
Defendant’s arguments in favor of denying class certification still apply. For the Plaintiff’s part,
he disagrees with the Defendant’s characterization of the legal basis for his claim, and asks that
he be allowed to proceed with discovery so he can substantiate his reasons to pursue the action
as a class and establish the Rule 23 elements.
According to Rule 23(c)(1)(A), a court “must determine by order whether to certify” a
case as a class action “[a]t an early practicable time” after suit is initiated. Generally, the party
seeking class certification assumes the burden of demonstrating that it is appropriate, Trotter v.
Klincar, 748 F.2d 1177, 1184 (7th Cir. 1984), and “[f]ailure to meet any of the Rule’s
requirements precludes class certification,” Arreola v. Godinez, 546 F.3d 788, 794 (7th Cir.
2008). However, this case is still at the pleading stage, discovery has been stayed (pending a
ruling on the Motion to Deny Class Certification), and the Plaintiff has not moved for class
certification. Although a defense motion to deny class certification is not the typical manner in
which a court is presented with the issue of class certification, the Court is not precluded from
considering the question of class certification at this stage. Pursuant to Rule 23(c)(1)(A), “a court
may deny class certification even before the plaintiff files a motion requesting certification” and
that a court “need not delay a ruling on certification if it thinks that additional discovery would
not be useful in resolving the class determination.” Kasalo v. Harris & Harris, Ltd., 656 F.3d
557, 563 (7th Cir. 2011).
It would be an exceptional case that warranted striking class allegations before discovery
had even begun, as Rule 23 is not “a mere pleading standard.” Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes,
564 U.S. 338, 350 (2011). A court making a class determination must engage in a “rigorous
analysis” of the Rule 23(a) factors. Id. (quoting Gen. Elec. Tele. Co. of Sw. v. Falcon, 457 U.S.
147, 161 (1982)); Szabo v. Bridgeport Machs., Inc., 249 F.3d 672, 676 (7th Cir. 2001)
(explaining that Rule 12(b)(6) standard is not applicable to a decision to certify a class because a
“judge should make whatever factual and legal inquiries are necessary under Rule 23” before
deciding whether to allow a case to proceed as a class action). “Most often it will not be
‘practicable’ for the court” to decide at the pleading stage “to reject a plaintiff’s attempt to
represent a class.” Hioll v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 946 F. Supp. 2d 817, 829 (N.D. Ill. 2013);
see also 1 Joseph M. McLaughlin, McLaughlin on Class Actions § 3:4 (12th ed.) (“[M]otions to
strike should not be the norm, but are appropriate when the unsuitability of class treatment is
evident on the face of the complaint and incontrovertible facts.”). Indeed, a court may abuse its
discretion if it does not allow for appropriate discovery before deciding whether to certify a
class. Damasco v. Clearwire Corp., 662 F.3d 891, 897 (7th Cir. 2011), overruled on other
grounds by Chapman v. First Index, Inc., 796 F.3d 783 (7th Cir. 2015).
In ruling on the Defendant’s Motion to Deny Class Certification, this Court will consider
whether the Complaint states facts that plausibly suggest that the Plaintiff’s claims are amenable
to class certification. That is, has the Plaintiff alleged enough facts to raise a reasonable
expectation that discovery will reveal evidence supporting the Plaintiff’s class allegations. See,
e.g., Carlson v. Northrop Grumman Corp., 13 C 2635, 2014 WL 5334038, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Oct.
20, 2014) (melding Rule 8 pleading requirements with Rule 23 requirements to require the
plaintiff to establish that he has “satisfied the pleading requirements of rule 8 and 23 based on
the information available to him at that time”); Blihovde v. St. Croix Cnty., 219 F.R.D. 607, 614
(W.D. Wis. 2013) (stating that, prior to discovery, when a “defendant challenge[s] class
certification on the basis of the allegations in the complaint only, the proper standard is the same
as a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim”). Before undertaking this inquiry, the Court
must determine which version of the Plaintiff’s complaint to consider, the original Complaint or
the First Amended Complaint that the Plaintiff has sought leave to file.
Given the liberal standard for allowing amendments to pleadings, see Fed. R. Civ. P.
15(a), and the lack of “undue delay, bad faith . . . , [or] undue prejudice to the [Defendant],” see
Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962), the Court will grant the Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend,
and consider the merits of the Defendant’s Motion to Deny Class Certification as it pertains to
the First Amended Complaint—Class Action [ECF No. 16-1]. Although the Defendant has urged
the Court to disallow the amended pleading, the Court does not think that would be an efficient
course of action. Both parties have already briefed their certification arguments as if the First
Amended Complaint is controlling. For example, the Defendant asserts that certification is not
appropriate, even under the First Amended Complaint, because there are no relevant issues of
law or fact common to the proposed class (Rule 23(a)(2)) and the Plaintiff’s claims are not
typical of those of the proposed class member (Rule 23(a)(3)). The Defendant also contends that
the Plaintiff cannot satisfy the requirements of predominance and superiority, which are
mandatory for Rule 23(b)(3) certification.1 The Plaintiff has responded to these arguments. In
total, the Court has eight briefs before it related to the two pending motions. Granting the Motion
to Amend will advance the case without prejudice to either party.
On June 27, 2014, the Plaintiff was driving his vehicle in Fort Wayne, Indiana, when City
of Fort Wayne Police Officers stopped and arrested him. A licensed driver was in the car at the
The Defendant’s Response in Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend Complaint also states
that the “proposed First Amended Complaint is futile and subject to dismissal.” (Def.’s Resp. in Opp’n to
Pl.’s M. to Amend Compl. 1, ECF No. 18.) However, the argument portion of the brief does not advance
the position that the entire complaint should be dismissed. Rather, as outlined above, the Defendant
addresses whether the case can be maintained as a class action even if the allegations of the First
Amended Complaint are accepted as true.
time of the stop, and was willing to drive the Plaintiff’s car from the scene. The Plaintiff asked
that the individual be permitted to drive the car away, but the officers denied his request and
arranged for the vehicle to be towed and impounded. The Plaintiff alleges that the officers had no
warrant for seizure of the car, no probable cause to search or seize it, and had provided no predeprivation notice or hearing to justify the automatic impoundment. He further alleges that the
wrongful seizure of his vehicle was the result of the Defendant’s unconstitutional policies,
practices, procedures, and/or customs governing the seizure and automatic impoundment of
vehicles. The Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant has failed to adequately train and supervise its
personnel to determine whether seizure and impoundment is appropriate where the owner has
consented to allow a present, licensed driver to remove the vehicle from the scene. The Plaintiff
brings this legal action to recover for violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments on
behalf of himself and a class of putative class members defined as follows:
Individuals who from August 17, 2013 until the present time, were subjected to
traffic stops by City of Fort Wayne police officers, and had their vehicles
immediately seized, towed and impounded without a warrant and the owners’
consent, or any legal justification to do so; the vehicle seizures occurred without
any pre-deprivation notice and/or hearing prior to the seizure, towing, and
impoundment; and City officers failed to permit the vehicle owners to have a
licensed driver present at the scene drive the vehicle from the scene.
(First Am. Compl. ¶ 1.)
The Plaintiff’s primary grievance is that the City of Fort Wayne police officers towed the
car he was driving after arresting him during a traffic stop, even though the passenger of the car
could have driven it from the scene. He alleges that this was done pursuant to the Defendant’s
policy to automatically tow vehicles once the driver is deemed unfit without regard to whether
there exists an alternative method of removal, namely, the presence of another licensed driver.
A seizure results if “there is some meaningful interference with an individual’s
possessory interests in that property.” Soldal v. Cook Cnty. Ill., 506 U.S. 56, 61 (1992) (quoting
United States v. Jacobsen, 466 U.S. 109, 113 (1984)). The impoundment of an automobile is a
seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. A seizure conducted without a warrant is
per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment—subject to a few specifically established and
well-defined exceptions. See Mincey v. Arizona, 437 U.S. 385, 390 (1978). One such exception,
the “community caretaking” function, allows police officers to impound vehicles that “imped[e]
traffic or threaten public safety and convenience.” South Dakota v. Opperman, 428 U.S. 364,
368–69 (1976); see also United States v. Cherry, 436 F.3d 769, 774 (7th Cir. 2006) (holding that
police were justified in towing the arrestee’s “hazardously parked car pursuant to their standard
policy, in furtherance of their ‘community caretaking’ function”). Where a decision to impound
is not supported by probable cause of criminal activity, it “is only valid if the arrestee is
otherwise unable to provide for the speedy and efficient removal of the car from public
thoroughfares or parking lots.” United States v. Duguay, 93 F.3d 346, 352–53 (7th Cir. 1996).
The Defendant argues that because it has a Written Motor Vehicle Tow and Inventory
Policy, which sets forth the circumstances under which police may tow a vehicle, the
requirements of the Fourth Amendment have been met.2 It is true that “standardized criteria or
Although the Defendant refers to the written policy in its briefing, the Court could not locate a
copy of the policy in the record currently before it.
established routine must regulate ‘inventory searches.’” Florida v. Wells, 495 U.S. 1, 4 (1990).
“Among those criteria which must be standardized are the circumstances in which a car may be
impounded.” Deguay, 93 F.3d at 351. However, “[t]he existence of a police policy, city
ordinance, or state law alone does not render a particular search or seizure reasonable or
otherwise immune from scrutiny under the Fourth Amendment.” United States v. Cartwright,
630 F.3d 610, 614 (7th Cir. 2010); see also Thompson v. Vill. of Monee, 110 F. Supp. 3d 826,
849 (N.D. Ill. 2015) (“The mere existence of a comprehensive policy alone, however, is not
sufficient to meet the constitutional requirements of the Fourth Amendment for impound of a
The Plaintiff believes that, after discovery, he will be able to show that the Defendant had
a custom or widespread practice of automatically towing and impounding vehicles even when (1)
a willing and licensed driver was present on the scene, and (2) the initial stop was for an
infraction or minor driving offense that did not require the vehicle to be towed or impounded for
evidentiary purposes. If the Plaintiff cannot ultimately prove that the Defendant employed such a
policy or custom, then there would be no “course of conduct” for which the Defendant, as a
municipality, could be held liable—even if the acts of the individual officers violated the
Plaintiff’s constitutional rights. See White v. City of Markham, 310 F.3d 989, 998 (7th Cir. 2002)
(explaining no municipal liability under § 1983 unless a policy or custom of the entity was the
“moving force” behind the constitutional deprivation). “[I]t is when execution of a government’s
policy or custom, whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or acts may fairly be
said to represent official policy, inflicts the injury that the government as an entity is responsible
under § 1983.” Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Serv., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978).3
Requirements for Class Action
Class actions are intended “to avoid repeated litigation of the same issue and to facilitate
prosecution of claims that any one individual might not otherwise bring on her own.” Chi.
Teachers Union, Local No. 1 v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chi., 797 F.3d 426, 433 (7th Cir. 2015).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 governs the certification of class actions in federal court. It
allows a member of a class to sue as a representative party on behalf of all the class members if:
(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;
(2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class;
(3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or
defenses of the class; and
(4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the
Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a). If all of these prerequisites are met, a court must also find that at least one
of the subsections of Rule 23(b) is satisfied. When certification is sought under subsection (b)(3),
as it is here, the proponents of the class must show 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). The Defendant challenges whether the Plaintiff can meet
the requirements of Rule 23(1), (2), and (3), or Rule 23(b)(3).
Moreover, even if the Defendant has such a policy, and it was determined to be
unconstitutional, that policy would not cause a deprivation in all circumstances. See, e.g., Cartwright, 630
F.3d at 616 (holding that car was not lawfully operable because it did not have functional license plate
lamp as required by Indiana law). But that, and other issues going to the merits or to any defenses, are for
The Defendant argues that the Plaintiff’s “own allegations demonstrate his inability to
establish numerosity.” (Def.’s Mem. 9, ECF No. 10 (arguing that “[i]f other individuals believe
that their vehicles were seized, towed, and impounded after being arrested those individuals are
more than capable of pursing litigation on their own behalf, which suggests the potential class is
not nearly as expansive as [the Plaintiff] seemingly suggests.”).) The Plaintiff admits that
discovery will be needed “to flush out the individuals in the class” and sets forth the scope and
means of the anticipated discovery. (Pl.’s Resp. 2, ECF No. 24.)
The Court is not persuaded by the Defendant’s argument that the Plaintiff cannot proceed
with this litigation as a potential class action because, if similar claims existed, the individuals
involved would have already pursued litigation. Although this may be true, it is also plausible
based on the allegations in the First Amended Complaint that numerous individuals were
impacted by the policy that the Plaintiff alleges the Defendant has in place. The Plaintiff has not
yet had an opportunity to pursue discovery that would allow him to prove, and the Court to find,
that “joinder of all members is impracticable.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(1). If the Plaintiff is unable
to satisfy this requirement after completing discovery, the Court will not grant class certification.
However, to deny class certification at this stage, without the benefit of any discovery, would be
Subsection (a)(2) requires the presence of “questions of law or fact common to the class.”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 32(a)(2). Commonality requires a common contention that is capable of
class-wide resolution, “which means that determination of its truth or falsity will resolve an issue
that is central to the validity of each one of the claims in one stroke.” Wal-Mart, 546 U.S. at 350.
“The critical point is ‘the need for conduct common to members of the class.’” Suchanek v.
Sturm Foods, Inc., 764 F.3d 750, 756 (7th Cir. 2014) (quoting In re IKO Roofing Shingle Prods.
Liab. Litig., 757 F.3d 599, 602 (7th Cir. 2014)); see also Keele v. Wexler, 149 F.3d 589, 594 (7th
Cir. 1998) (noting that common questions arise where “the defendants have engaged in
standardized conduct towards members of the proposed class”). “Where the same conduct or
practice by the same defendant gives rise to the same kind of claims from all class members,
there is a common question.” Suchanek, 764 F.3d at 756.
The Defendant argues that the proposed class does not have sufficient questions of law or
fact in common. It submits that the purported class would be attempting to sue the Defendant for
numerous impoundment decisions all at once, which is problematic because each impound
decision would require a detailed factual analysis to determine whether it was reasonable under
the community caretaking doctrine. The Defendant derives its argument from a case originating
in the Central District of California, Miranda v. Bonner, No. CV 08-03178 SJO VBKK, 2012
WL 10972131 (C.D. Cal. Jan. 31, 2012). In that case, the court denied class certification for a
class defined as follows:
All vehicle owners whose vehicles were seized and stored even though, at the
time of the vehicles’ seizure, justification for seizure pursuant to the community
caretaking doctrine did not exist; or all vehicle owners who had cars impounded
for thirty days pursuant to [Section] 14602.6 where the purpose of the [thirty]-day
impound was punishment for alleged crimes.
2012 WL 10972131, at *3. The court found that commonality was lacking because
“other than alleging that they have all suffered from a violation of the same statute, Plaintiffs
have not demonstrated that a class-wide proceeding will generate common answers.” Id. at *5.
The court rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that the “basic question of whether, and under what
circumstances, a seizing agency must allow the car to remain parked or be driven away by a
licensed driver is common to all class members.” Id. It reasoned that the answer to that question
“is dependent upon a variety of circumstances and impoundment decisions made for various
reasons.” Id. (“Unless Plaintiffs are able to demonstrate in fact that there are common questions
of law or fact, simply alleging that Defendants have a custom or policy of unlawfully seizing
vehicles is insufficient to support a motion for class certification.”); see also Sandoval v. Cnty. of
Sonoma, Case No. 11-cv-05817-TEH, 2015 WL 468460, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 3, 2015)
(“[W]here the source of authority for impoundment decisions covers a wide range of
circumstances, classes consisting of all owners whose vehicles were impounded under that
authority do not have a sufficiently common question.”).
The decisions in Bonner and Sandoval align with others where class certification has
been denied because the Plaintiff presented no proof of a systematic practice to potentially tie all
the claims together. See, e.g., Wal-Mart, 564 U.S. at 353 (denying class certification because the
plaintiffs did not identify a specific employment practice that tied all their claims together);
Phillips v. Sheriff of Cook Cnty., — F.3d —, 2016 WL 3615761, at *12 (7th Cir. July 6, 2016)
(finding that the proposed questions did not address a gross and systemic deficiency that would
apply class-wide, but concerned a series of individual deliberate indifference claims); cf. Bell v.
PNC Bank, Nat’l Ass’n, 800 F.3d 360, 374 (7th Cir. 2015) (identifying the common
question whether the defendant had an unofficial policy or practice that required employees to
work unclocked overtime hours); Suchanek, 764 F.3d at 756 (holding that commonality was
satisfied where the plaintiffs’ claims derived from a single course of conduct by the defendant
related to the marketing and packaging of a consumer product).
The Plaintiff argues that the class he seeks to represent would not require the individual,
case-by-case inquiry that prevented certification in Bonner and Sandoval. The Court agrees. The
Plaintiff’s proposed class would include only individuals whose cars were towed under the
community caretaking exception, even though a licensed and capable driver remained on the
scene after the driver was deemed ineligible to drive.4 The Plaintiff alleges that the community
caretaking exception does not apply in that particular circumstance. He further alleges that the
reason police officers decided to tow a vehicle in those instances is owing strictly to the
Defendant’s policy to automatically tow and impound vehicles when the driver is unable,
without consideration of whether another person could have removed it. Factors that are
normally germane to considering whether the community caretaking exception applies will not
be relevant if a custom or policy caused the unconstitutional seizure. E.g., Duguay, 93 F.3d at
353 (“The policy of impounding the car without regard to whether the defendant can provide for
its removal is patently unreasonable if the ostensible purpose for impoundment is for the
‘caretaking’ of the streets.”).
The Defendant disagrees with the Plaintiff’s premise for the constitutional challenge,
arguing that the Fourth Amendment does not require police to provide an arrestee with the
option to allow another occupant to operate the vehicle when the driver’s “vehicle is seized in
connection with the arrest.” (Def.’s Mem. 2, ECF No. 10.) This disagreement goes to the merits
While the class definition provided in the First Amended Complaint may not be well crafted,
neither is it controlling. The Court considers the entirety of the allegations to determine whether they
plausibly suggest that a class could be certified.
of the suit. Whether the Defendant has a practice of automatically towing vehicles whenever a
driver is arrested without consideration of whether another person on the scene could remove it
and, if so, the constitutionality of such a policy, are common questions for which there are
common answers. A determination of the truth or falsity of these allegations will resolve an issue
that is central to the validity of every potential plaintiff’s claim. In other words, the class
members are attempting to answer the question, “why was my car towed?” by pointing to towing
practices that did not properly fall within the community caretaking exception to the warrant
requirement. This is a question that is capable of being answered with “proof at trial through
evidence that is common to the class rather than individual to its members.” Messner v.
Northshore Univ. HealthSystem, 669 F.3d 802, 818 (7th Cir. 2012). Unlike the cases cited by the
Defendant, this case is not about hundreds of impoundment decisions. To the contrary, if the
Plaintiff’s allegations are believed, it is about the absence of any real case-by-case decision
making in favor of a policy that automatically resulted in towing.
Under Rule 23’s typicality requirement, the issue is whether “the named representatives’
claims have the same essential characteristics as the claims of the class at large.” De La Fuente
v. Stokely-Van Camp, Inc., 713 F.2d 225, 232 (7th Cir. 1983). The question whether claims are
typical of those of the class members he represents is closely related to the commonality inquiry.
Keele, 149 F.3d at 595. The Seventh Circuit has summarized the typicality analysis as follows:
A claim is typical if it arises from the same event or practice or course of conduct
that gives rise to the claims of other class members and her claims are based on
the same legal theory. Even though some factual variations may not defeat
typicality, the requirement is meant to ensure that the named representative’s
claims have the same essential characteristics as the claims of the class at large.
Oshana v. Coca-Cola Co., 472 F.3d 506, 514 (7th Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks and
The Court is satisfied that the Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint adequately alleges
that his claim is typical of the claim that the class members would have. It would arise out of the
same conduct (automatically towing of vehicles even when another driver is present), and be
based on the same legal theory (unlawful seizure). Whether the Plaintiff can ultimately prove the
existence of an unconstitutional policy or custom is an issue for trial or a properly supported
motion for summary judgment.
Rule 23(b)(3) applies to most classes seeking monetary relief. The two overarching
requirements are that common issues predominate and that a class action is the superior method
for resolving the controversy. Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(3). The Supreme Court has explained that the
“predominance” and “superiority” requirements of Rule 23(b)(3) serve to limit class certification
to cases where “a class action would achieve economies of time, effort, and expense, and
promote . . . uniformity of decision as to persons similarly situated, without sacrificing
procedural fairness or bringing about other undesirable results.” Amchem Prods., Inc. v.
Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 615 (1997) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 23 Advisory Committee Notes).
The Supreme Court has discussed predominance in broad terms, explaining that the Rule
23(b)(3) “inquiry trains on the legal or factual questions that qualify each class member’s case as
a genuine controversy,” with the purpose being to determine whether a proposed class is
“sufficiently cohesive to warrant adjudication by representation.” Amchem Prods., 521 U.S. at
623. This “requires a showing that questions common to the class predominate, not that those
questions will be answered, on the merits, in favor of the class.” Amgen Inc. v. Conn. Ret. Plans
& Trust Funds, 133 S. Ct. 1184, 1191 (2013). The Plaintiff must show that common evidence, as
opposed to evidence that is individual to each member, could suffice to make out the alleged
constitutional violations. See Messner, 669 F.3d at 818.
The proposed class in this case challenges what the Plaintiff contends is a
commonly-applied policy or practice of the City Defendant. The nature and constitutionality of
that practice will predominate over individual issues. See Streeter v. Sheriff of Cook Cnty., 256
F.R.D. 609, 614 (N.D. Ill. 2009) (“When a proposed class challenges a uniform policy, the
validity of that policy tends to be the predominant issue in the litigation.”) (citing Herkert v.
MRC Receivables Corp., 254 F.R.D. 344, 352 (N.D. Ill. 2008)); see also, e.g., Calvin v. Sheriff of
Will Cnty., No. 03 C 3086, 2004 WL 1125922, at *4 (N.D. Ill. May 17, 2004) (holding that the
“question of the validity of the Sheriff’s policy” predominated over individualized questions
because “the ultimate legal question is not whether jail personnel made erroneous reasonable
suspicion determinations regarding each individual, but whether the Sheriff’s policy avoided all
such inquiry”). The allegations set forth in the First Amended Complaint plausibly suggest that
the Plaintiff will be able to satisfy the predominance standard.
Rule 23(b)(3) also requires a court to assess whether class treatment is “superior to other
available methods for fair and efficient adjudication of the controversy.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
23(b)(3). The Defendant argues that a class action would not be superior to individual litigation.
First, the Defendant argues that any individual with a claim would have sufficient damages to be
motivated to pursue his or her own litigation. At this stage of the proceeding, there is not yet any
evidence of the damage value of any given unconstitutional tow and impound. The Defendant
argues that, regardless of the amount of any recovery, the fee shifting provision of 42 U.S.C. §
1988 undermines the contention that a class action is preferable. However, the fee shifting statute
would not increase the amount of damages actually recovered, and the case the Defendant cites
in support of its proposition regarding fee shifting, Mayo v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 148 F.R.D.
576, 583 (S.D. Ohio 1994), is not on point. Mayo concerned a specific section of the Truth-inLending Act that involved the “purely personal remedy” of recission. See James v. Home Constr.
Co. of Mobile, Inc., 621 F.2d 727, 731 (5th Cir. 1980) (explaining that the notion of a class
action under a statute giving a creditor the right to rescind, which he has “with each individual
obligor” would “contradict what would seem to be the Congressional intent about the nature of
this action”). The remainder of the Defendant’s arguments regarding superiority relate back to its
arguments regarding common issues, which the Court has already addressed. Whether there are
other factors that would suggest that class treatment is superior, or not, can be developed later in
the litigation. The Court does not find that this is one of those cases where “the complaint
[makes] it clear that class certification is inappropriate” because the plaintiff will be unable to
satisfy Rule 23. Hioll, 946 F. Supp. 2d at 829. However, in denying the Defendant’s Motion to
Deny Class Certification, the Court is not issuing a certification order pursuant to Rule 23(a)(1),
or predicting the outcome of any motion requesting certification. The Court is ruling only that
the First Amended Complaint plausibly states a claim upon which certification may be
appropriate. The Plaintiff has not yet had an opportunity to conduct discovery to determine if the
case is amenable to class certification. If the Plaintiff moves for class certification, he will not be
permitted to merely rest on his pleadings. Rather, he would be required to “affirmatively
demonstrate his compliance with the Rule” and “prove that there are in fact sufficiently
numerous parties, common questions of law or fact, etc.” Wal-Mart, 564 U.S. at 350.
For the reasons stated above, the Court DENIES the Defendant’s Motion to Deny Class
Certification [ECF No. 9], and GRANTS the Motion to Amend Complaint [ECF No. 16]. The
Plaintiff is directed to file the First Amended Complaint — Class Action that was attached to his
Motion to Amend.
SO ORDERED on September 20, 2016.
s/ Theresa L. Springmann
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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