Mickelson v. County of Ramsey et al
ORDER: 1. Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification, Appointment of Class Representatives, and Appointment of Class Counsel [Doc. No. 21] is DENIED AS MOOT; 2. Plaintiffs' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, or in the Alterative, Summa ry Judgment on the Issue of Liability [Doc. No. 38] is DENIED; 3. Defendant Ramsey County's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Doc. No. 53] is GRANTED; 4. Defendant Keefe Commissary Network, L.L.C.'s (KCNs) Motion for Judgment on the P leadings [Doc. No. 59] is GRANTED; and 5. Defendants First California Bank and Outpay Systems, L.L.C. (Outpay's) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Doc. No. 64]) is GRANTED; 6. All claims (Counts I-V) in the Second Amended Complaint [Doc. No. 14] are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY. (Written Opinion). Signed by Judge Susan Richard Nelson on 08/26/2014. (SMD)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
Erik Mickelson and Corey Statham,
Civil No. 13-CV-2911 (SRN/FLN)
County of Ramsey, Keefe Commissary
Network, L.L.C., First California Bank,
Outpay Systems, L.L.C., and John Does 1-10,
Joshua R. Williams and Timothy M. Phillips, Law Office of Joshua R. Williams, PLLC,
3249 Hennepin Avenue South, Suite 216, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408, for Plaintiffs
Jason M. Hively and Susan M. Tindal, Iverson Reuvers Condon, 9321 Ensign Avenue
South, Bloomington, Minnesota 55438, for Defendant Ramsey County
Russell S. Ponessa and Michael T. Berger, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, 333 South
Seventh Street, Suite 2000, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402, for Defendant Keefe
Commissary Network, LLC
Marty E. Moore, Peck Hadfield, Baxter & Moore, LLC, 399 North Main, Suite 300,
Logan, Utah 84321, and Daniel L. Payne, Meagher & Geer, PLLP, 33 South Sixth Street,
Suite 4400, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402, for Defendants First California Bank and
Outpay Systems, L.L.C.
SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, United States District Court Judge
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification,
Appointment of Class Representatives, and Appointment of Class Counsel [Doc. No. 21];
Plaintiffs’ Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, or in the Alterative, Summary
Judgment on the Issue of Liability [Doc. No. 38]; Defendant Ramsey County’s Motion
for Judgment on the Pleadings [Doc. No. 53]; Defendant Keefe Commissary Network,
L.L.C.’s (“KCN’s”) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Doc. No. 59]; and
Defendants First California Bank (“FCB”) and Outpay Systems, L.L.C. (“Outpay’s”)
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Doc. No. 64].) For the reasons set forth herein,
Plaintiffs’ judgment on the pleadings motion is denied and their class certification motion
is denied as moot. Defendants’ motions are granted.
Defendant Ramsey County charges a $25 booking fee to all individuals booked
for confinement in its detention facilities. (Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 25-27 [Doc. No. 14];
Ramsey Cnty. Sheriff’s Office Inmate Booking Fee Policy at 1, Ex. 2 to Lindberg Aff.
[Doc. No. 73-2].) The booking fee is imposed pursuant to Minnesota law and is assessed
to offset the costs associated with booking inmates. (Ramsey Cnty. Sheriff’s Office
Inmate Booking Fee Policy at 1, Ex. 2 to Lindberg Aff. [Doc. No. 73-2].) Under
A county board may require that each person who is booked for
confinement … pay a fee to the sheriff's department of the county in which
the jail is located to cover costs incurred by the county in the booking of
that person. The fee is payable immediately from any money then possessed
by the person being booked, or any money deposited with the sheriff's
department on the person's behalf.
Minn. Stat. § 641.12, subd. 1. If the individual being booked has no funds at the time of
booking, the sheriff must notify the district court in the county where the charges related
to the booking are pending, and request the assessment of the fee. (Id.)
Pursuant to the statute, detainees are entitled to a refund of the booking fee if they
are not charged, are acquitted, or the charges against them are dismissed. (Id.) Ramsey
County provides all inmates released from custody with a “Booking Fee Refund Form,”
and, consistent with Minn. Stat. § 641.13, subd. 1, the county’s policy is to issue refunds
of booking fees under the three circumstances noted above. (Ramsey Cnty. Sheriff’s
Office Inmate Booking Fee Policy at 2, Ex. 2 to Lindberg Aff. [Doc. No. 73-2].)
Ramsey County’s Inmate Handbook details the grievance procedure by which
detainees may challenge unfair treatment. (Ramsey Cnty. Inmate Handbook at 8, Ex. 4 to
Lindberg Aff. [Doc. No. 73-4].) The procedure contemplates both informal verbal
grievances and formal written grievances:
If you think that you have been treated unfairly you may tell your Housing
Officer, another staff member, or request to speak to a Sergeant. If you are
unable to resolve the issue verbally, you may file a formal grievance.
All formal grievances must be in writing and submitted on a Grievance
Form. All grievances are investigated and the results given to you. If you
are not satisfied with the decision, you may appeal it to a Lieutenant. ICE
Boarders may also file complaints with the Department of Homeland
Also under Ramsey County’s policies and procedures, cash inventoried from
detainees at the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center is not returned in the form of
cash upon the detainees’ release. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 25 [Doc. No. 14]; Ramsey Cnty.
Inmate Handbook at 15, Ex. 4 to Lindberg Aff. [Doc. No. 73-4].) Instead, detainees
receive a check or debit card upon release. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 26 [Doc. No. 14].)
Detainees who receive a debit card are provided with a Cardholder Agreement
explaining the fees associated with the card. (Fee Information, Ex. A to Second Am.
Compl. [Doc. No. 14 at 30-33]; Cardholder Agreement, Ex. A to KCN’s Answer to
Second Am. Compl. [Doc. No. 34-1 at 2-3].) The Cardholder Agreement provides the
following information regarding fees:
Fees. We will provide you written notice of a change in fees at least thirty
(30) days prior to the effective date of such change. If [w]e are unable to
contact you for any reason, [w]e will post the changes to the fees on the
Card website at www.accessfreedomcard.com. You will be deemed to have
proper notice thirty days (30) after the amendments are posted.
Card Usage Fees
Card Activation Fee
Weekly Maintenance Fee
Support Calls Fee
PIN Change Fee
Domestic ATM Fees**
International ATM Fees**
ATM Account Inquiry Fee
POS Debit Fee (PIN and Signature)
ATM Decline for NSF Fee
ATM Decline International Fee
Card to Bank Transfer (ACH) Fee
Account Closure Fee
* After one and one half (1.5) days/36 hours of issuance the card starts
incurring weekly maintenance fees to cover the cost of the FDIC insured
** ATM Service providers may charge additional fees for ATM
(Cardholder Agreement, Ex. A to KCN’s Answer to Second Am. Compl. [Doc. No. 34-1
Ramsey County’s issuance of debit cards began in the fall of 2011 when the
county – which contracts with various suppliers of goods and services for its Adult
Detention Center – entered into an agreement with KCN to provide prepaid debit cards to
inmates released from the Adult Detention Center. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 9 [Doc. No.
14]; Agreement, Ex. A to Second Am. Compl. [Doc. No. 14 at 25-27].) Pursuant to the
terms of the agreement between Ramsey County and KCN, FCB issued the debit cards
and Outpay processed any debit card transactions. (Agreement, Ex. A to Second Am.
Compl. [Doc. No. 14 at 25-27]; Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 32-33 [Doc. No. 14].)
On May 22, 2013, Plaintiff Erik Mickelson (“Mickelson”) was arrested in St. Paul
for violating a noise ordinance. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 11 [Doc. No. 17].) Mickelson
was booked into the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center. (Id. at ¶ 12.) At the time
Mickelson was booked, his inventoried personal property included $95 in cash. (Id. at
¶ 13.) Upon Mickelson’s release later the same day, Ramsey County issued him a debit
card containing $70 – the value of his cash minus the $25 booking fee. (Id. at ¶ 29.)
On August 30, 2013, Plaintiff Corey Statham (“Statham”) was arrested for
disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process. (Id. at ¶ 18.) Statham was booked
into the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center, where he remained for 48 hours. (Id.
at ¶ 19.) At the time Statham was booked, his inventoried personal property included $46
in cash. (Id. at ¶ 20.) Upon his release, Ramsey County issued Statham a debit card
containing $21 – the value of his cash minus the $25 booking fee. (Id. at ¶ 30.)
Plaintiffs assert the following claims against Ramsey County, KCN, FCB, and
Outpay: (1) a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that Defendants violated Plaintiffs’ civil
rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments (id. at ¶¶ 105-07); (2) a claim under
42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) that Defendants conspired to violate Plaintiffs’ civil rights (id. ¶¶
108-111); (3) a claim for conversion (id. ¶¶ 112-16); (4) a claim for civil theft in violation
of Minn. Stat. § 604.14 (id. at ¶¶ 117-20); and (5) a claim of unjust enrichment (id. ¶¶
Standard of Review
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides that a motion for judgment on the
pleadings is appropriate after the pleadings are closed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). A motion for
judgment on the pleadings will be granted “only where the moving party has clearly
established that no material issue of fact remains and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Waldron v. Boeing Co., 388 F.3d 591, 593 (8th Cir. 2004).
A motion for judgment on the pleadings is evaluated under the same standard as a
Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Clemons v. Crawford, 585
F.3d 1119, 1124 (8th Cir. 2009). The Court assumes the facts in the complaint to be true
and construes all reasonable inferences from those facts in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. Morton v. Becker, 793 F.2d 185, 187 (8th Cir.1986). The Court, however, need
not accept as true wholly conclusory allegations, Hanten v. Sch. Dist. of Riverview
Gardens, 183 F.3d 799, 805 (8th Cir.1999), or legal conclusions that the plaintiff draws
from the facts pled. Westcott v. City of Omaha, 901 F.2d 1486, 1488 (8th Cir. 1990).
To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain “enough facts to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
545 (2007). Although a complaint need not contain “detailed factual allegations,” it must
contain facts with enough specificity “to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Id. at 555. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements,” will not pass muster under Twombly. Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
When considering a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the Court must also
generally ignore materials outside the pleadings. The Court may consider the complaint,
“some materials that are part of the public record or do not contradict the complaint,”
orders, materials embraced by the complaint, and exhibits attached to the complaint.
Porous Media Corp. v. Pall Corp., 186 F.3d 1077, 1079 (8th Cir. 1999). Here, the Court
considers the Second Amended Complaint and attached exhibits, Exhibit A to KCN’s
Answer to the Second Amended Complaint (the “Cardholder Agreement”), and the
following exhibits to the Affidavit of Brad Lindberg: Exhibit 1, September 22, 2009
Ramsey County Board Minutes (adopting booking fee) [Doc. No. 73-1]; Exhibit 2,
Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office Inmate Booking Fee Policy [Doc. No. 73-2]; Exhibit 3,
Estimates for Booking Fee Charges [Doc. No. 73-3]; Exhibit 4, Ramsey County Inmate
Handbook [Doc. No. 73-4]; Exhibit 6, Debit Card Directive [Doc. No. 73-6]. The Court
considers these particular exhibits to be “embraced by the complaint,” as the Second
Amended Complaint refers to the schedule of fees reflected in Exhibit A to KCN’s
Answer to the Second Amended Complaint (the Cardholder Agreement) (see Second Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 36-42), and the Second Amended Complaint similarly refers to the policies or
information contained in Exhibits 1-4 and 6 to the Lindberg Affidavit. (Id. at ¶¶ 15, 22,
25, 26, 27, 34, 35 [Doc. No. 14].) No other documents will be considered.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Plaintiffs have brought the instant lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that
their constitutional rights were violated by the Defendants’ actions. Section 1983
provides a private cause of action against those who, under color of law, deprive a citizen
of the United States of “any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws.” 42 U.S.C. § 1983. A plaintiff may bring a § 1983 claim against persons in
their individual or official capacity, or against a governmental entity. See Baker v.
Chisom, 501 F.3d 920, 923 (8th Cir. 2007). Under §1983, a municipality may not be held
vicariously liable for the unconstitutional acts of its employees. Mettler v. Whitledge,
165 F.3d 1197, 1204 (8th Cir. 1999). However, a municipality may be sued directly
under §1983 where the allegedly unconstitutional action implements or executes a policy
statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted or promulgated by those
whose acts are representative of official policy. Monell v. Dep’t of Social Servs. of City
of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978).
Because the imposition of § 1983 liability requires a plaintiff to establish a
violation of a constitutional right, Avalos v. City of Glenwood, 382 F.3d 792, 802 (8th
Cir. 2004), the Court first examines whether Plaintiffs’ claims establish this element.
Plaintiffs contend that Defendants violated their rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendments through the denial of due process, the unlawful seizure of their property,
and the denial of a property interest – all related to the loss of Plaintiffs’ seized funds, the
inconvenience imposed by the issuance of debit cards, and the amount of fees charged.
(Second Am. Compl. §§ 105-07 [Doc. No. 14].)
The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is directed at the states and
their political subdivisions, but it is otherwise identical to the Due Process Clause of the
Fifth Amendment, which applies against the federal government. Johnson v. Alexander,
572 F.2d 1219, 1220 (8th Cir. 1978). Procedural due process imposes constraints on
governmental decisions that burden a person’s protected interests in life, liberty, or
property, see Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 332 (1976), while substantive due
process protects against official conduct that is conscience-shocking and violative of a
fundamental right that is deeply rooted in history, and implicit in the concept of ordered
liberty. Slusarchuk v. Hoff, 346 F.3d 1178, 1181-82 (8th Cir. 2003) (citing Moran v.
Clarke, 296 F.3d 638, 651 (8th Cir. 2002) (en banc) (Bye, J., concurring and writing for
the majority on this issue). Plaintiffs do not specify in their pleading whether they allege
a violation of procedural or substantive due process (see Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 105-07
[Doc. No. 14]), however the arguments in Plaintiffs’ Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings address only procedural due process. The Court therefore focuses its analysis
on procedural due process.
“Generally, ‘due process requires that a hearing before an impartial decisionmaker be provided at a meaningful time, and in a meaningful manner.’” Booker v. City
of Saint Paul, __ F.3d __, No. 13-2747, 2014 WL 3896174, at *2 (8th Cir. Aug. 7, 2014)
(quoting Coleman v. Watt, 40 F.3d 255, 260 (8th Cir. 1994)). In Mathews, 424 U.S. at
335, the Supreme Court outlined three factors that courts must balance when determining
what procedural process is owed, and when that process is due, in order for the state to
deprive a person of their private property without violating the Constitution:
 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.
Id. Balancing these factors in Mathews, the Supreme Court held that when the
government terminates Social Security disability benefits, it need only provide a posttermination hearing. Id. at 348. The Court reached this conclusion based on the
“elaborate character” of the existing administrative procedures in place and the
substantial governmental interests at stake. Id. at 339-40. As the Mathews balancing test
suggests, due process is not a fixed, technical concept, but rather, it is flexible, “call[ing]
for such procedural protections as the particular situation demands.” Id. at 334.
Accordingly, resolution of the instant motions requires analysis of the governmental and
private interests that are affected by the challenged policies.
The specific question of whether assessing a booking fee and returning arrestees’
money in the form of a prepaid debit card violates the Due Process Clause appears to be
an issue of first impression in the Eighth Circuit. In Schilb v. Kuebel, 404 U.S. 357, 36061 (1971), the Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of an Illinois bail reform
statute that was enacted to curb abuses by professional bail bondsmen. Under the statute,
a detainee could obtain pretrial release by depositing ten percent of the amount of bail,
but the clerk of court was allowed to keep ten percent of the amount deposited (i.e., one
percent of the amount of the bail). Id. at 358. Plaintiff challenged the statute on grounds
of equal protection and due process. Upholding the statute, the Supreme Court found the
fee to be an acceptable “administrative cost” imposed on everyone who sought the benefit
of the statute and, therefore, found that it was not violative of due process. Id. at 370-71.
Similarly, the majority of courts that have addressed the booking fee or bail fee
issue, including the Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Circuits, have held that the collection
of nominal fees from arrestees for booking, room and board, or bond – without a
predeprivation hearing – does not violate due process, particularly in light of the low
amount of discretion involved, the administrative nature of the fee, and the minimal risk
of error. See, e.g., Sickles v. Campbell Cnty., Ky., 501 F.3d 726 (6th Cir. 2007) (finding
that withholding a portion of an inmate’s canteen account funds to cover the costs of
booking and room and board, without holding a predeprivation hearing, did not violate
due process); Slade v. Hampton Roads Reg’l Jail, 407 F.3d 243 (4th Cir. 2005) (no
procedural due process violation when charges were deducted from pretrial detainee’s
account without holding predeprivation hearing), Broussard v. Parish of Orleans, 318
F.3d 644 (5th Cir. 2003) (finding no due process violations as to bail fee statutes
requiring arrestees to pay certain fees after posting bail), Tillman v. Lebanon Cnty. Corr.
Facility, 221 F.3d 410 (3d Cir. 2000) (holding that predeprivation hearing was not
necessary prior to assessing a $10 daily housing fee during inmate’s incarceration, and
that postdeprivation remedies satisfied due process); see also Markadonatos v. Vill. of
Woodbridge, __ F.3d __, No. 12-2619, 2014 WL 3566203 (7th Cir. July 21, 2014) (per
curiam) (although not reaching the due process merits, affirming the district court’s
dismissal of a §1983 claim alleging a due process violation stemming from the
assessment of a $30 booking fee); Cole v. Warren Cnty., Ky., No. 1:11-DV-00189-JHM,
2012 WL 1950419, at *6 (W.D. Ky. May 30, 2012) (finding no due process deprivation
resulting from assessment of a $20 booking fee, a $20 daily housing fee, and a $5 bond
fee.); Hohsfield v. Polhemus, No. 11-3007 (FLW), 2012 WL 603089, at *4-5 (D. N.J.
Feb. 23, 2012) (holding that a booking fee and a $20 daily housing fee were “nominal and
non-punitive” and not violative of due process). However, a minority of courts have held
that the imposition of a booking fee violates due process or may violate due process. See,
e.g., Roehl v. City of Naperville, 857 F. Supp. 2d 707 (N.D. Ill. 2012) (ruling on
defendant’s motion to dismiss that plaintiff asserted a plausible due process claim where
city ordinance imposed a $50 bail or bond fee on arrestees, but lacked procedural
protections and remedies); Allen v. Leis, 213 F. Supp. 2d 819 (S.D. Ohio 2002) (finding
that jail’s policy of appropriating cash immediately to cover jail booking fee was not
statutorily authorized and violated due process).
Turning to the first Mathews factor – the private interest at stake – Defendants
acknowledge that Plaintiffs have a property interest in their cash. (Def. Ramsey Cnty.’s
Opp’n Mem. at 7 [Doc. No. 72]; KCN’s Mem. Supp. Mot. for J. on the Pleadings at 12
[Doc. No. 61]; FCB’s Mem. Supp. Mot. for J. on the Pleadings at 2 [Doc. No. 66])
(adopting arguments presented by Ramsey County and KCN).) However, Defendants
characterize this interest as “slight,” or of less significance than the other Mathews
factors. (Id.) In contrast, Plaintiffs cite Huss v. Spokane County, 464 F. Supp. 2d 1056,
1062 (E.D. Wash. 2006), to support their assertion that a person’s interest in the
continued possession and use of his or her money is substantial. While the district court
in Huss found this private interest “significant,” and concluded that a statute which
required the immediate payment of a booking fee without a predeprivation hearing was
facially unconstitutional, id., the court later vacated its own ruling on a motion to
reconsider. Huss, No. CV-05-180-FVS, 2007 WL 1115296, at *4 (E.D. Wash April 13,
2007) (finding that the plaintiff lacked standing).
Plaintiffs have a property interest in their money that is protected by the Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, see Parrish v. Mallinger, 133 F.3d 612,
614 (8th Cir. 1998) (inmates have a property interest in their money); Jenson v. Klecker,
648 F.2d 1179, 1183 (8th Cir. 1981) (same), however, the Court does not find the interest
to be substantial. Without diminishing Plaintiffs’ property interest, the Court agrees with
the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Sickles that
[t]he private stakes at issue . . . do not begin to approach the kinds of
government conduct that have required a predeprivation hearing, such as a
limitation on the “historic” “right to maintain control over [one’s] home,”
United States v. James Daniel Good Real Prop., 510 U.S. 43, 53-54 (1993),
or the termination of government benefits, which for many people are “the
very means by which to live,” Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254, 264 (1970).
Sickles, 501 F.3d at 730. As in Sickles, the private interests at stake here, both with
respect to the $25 booking fee and the smaller fees associated with the debit cards, are
relatively modest. Other courts have reached the same conclusion with respect to similar
fees. See, e.g., Slade, 407 F.3d at 253-54 (finding the plaintiffs’ property interest to be
slight under the first factor of the Mathews test); Broussard, 318 F.3d at 656-57
(characterizing the level of private interest as de minimis).
Under the second prong of Mathews, the Court considers the risk of erroneous
deprivation, and the probable value, if any, of any additional safeguards. Mathews, 424
U.S. at 335. The Sickles court found the risk of erroneous deprivation in withholding a
certain amount from inmates’ canteen accounts to cover the costs of booking, room and
board to be “minor,” observing that the “withholding of funds involves elementary
accounting that has little risk of error and is non-discretionary.” Sickles, 501 F.3d at 730.
Similarly, in Slade, the Fourth Circuit found that “[t]he daily deduction of the charge
from the prisoner’s account is a ministerial matter with no discretion and minimal risk of
error.” Slade, 407 F.3d at 253-54 (citing Tillman, 221 F.3d at 422).
Ramsey County's booking fee policy is statutorily authorized and applicable to all
persons booked for confinement. Under the policy, the county’s employees have no
discretion in determining who should be charged the booking fee and who should not be
charged. Rather, as KCN observes, Ramsey County staff either assess a booking fee to
an arrestee who is being booked, or they do not assess a booking fee to a person who has
not been arrested and is not being booked. (See KCN’s Mem. Supp. Mot. for J. on the
Pleadings at 12-14 [Doc. No. 61].) This lack of discretion reduces the potential for
erroneous deprivation. Moreover, the assessment of the booking fee involves simple
transactions which also lowers the risk of an erroneous deprivation. Ramsey County’s
internal policy of refunding the booking fee to the person at their last known address if
that person is not charged, is acquitted, or if the charges are dismissed (Ramsey Cnty.
Sheriff’s Office Inmate Booking Fee Policy at 2, Ex. 2 to Lindberg Aff. [Doc. No. 73-2]),
provides an adequate post-deprivation remedy, given the nature and weight of the private
interests at stake, as does Ramsey’s County Adult Detention Center’s internal grievance
policy. (Ramsey Cnty. Inmate Handbook at 8; 15, Ex. 4 to Lindberg Aff. [Doc. No. 734].)
In contrast, the absence of any such reimbursement procedure has led other courts
to find similar booking fee ordinances unconstitutional. See, e.g., Roehl, 857 F. Supp. 2d
at 708. While Plaintiffs argue that the potential availability of state law post-deprivation
remedies is inapplicable here (Pls.’ Mem. Supp. Mot. for J. on the Pleadings at 18-19
[Doc. No. 39]) (citing Roehl, 857 F. Supp. 2d at 718), Ramsey County’s own policy
provides for the booking fee refund in the circumstances authorized by Minn. Stat. §
641.12. Ramsey County’s remedy is not of the type found wanting by the court in Roehl
– there, the court held that the existence of a post-deprivation state law tort remedy did
not preclude a plaintiff’s § 1983 due process claim. Here, under Ramsey County’s own
policy, detainees are provided with notice of both the provision for a booking fee refund
as well as the general internal grievance procedure. (Ramsey Cnty. Inmate Handbook at
8, 15, Ex. 4 to Lindberg Aff. [Doc. No. 73-4].) In upholding similar statutes and
ordinances, other courts have noted that the existence of a general inmate grievance
process satisfies the requirements of due process. See, e.g., Sickles, 501 F.3d at 731
(noting that the plaintiffs had notice about fees and internal grievance procedures);
Tillman, 221 F.3d at 422 (stating,“The plaintiff had an adequate postdeprivation remedy
in the grievance program.”); Cole, 2012 WL 1950419, at *8 (observing that the inmates
“were provided notice regarding the jail’s internal grievance procedures); Hohsfield, 2012
WL 603089, at *6 (noting, “Pursuant to general state prison policy, inmates have an
opportunity to challenge the deductions from their inmate accounts through the general
internal inmate grievance procedure provided for them.”). The Court finds no due
process violation with respect to the booking fee.
Plaintiffs further argue that the risk of erroneous deprivation and the need for
additional or substitute safeguards is even greater with respect to the debit card fees.
(Pls.’ Mem. Supp. Mot. J. Pleadings at 16 [Doc. No. 39].) While Ramsey County returns
the booking fee under certain circumstances, Plaintiffs contend that the deprivation of the
“unavoidable” debit card fees is permanent. (Id. at 17.) The Court finds, however, that
as with the set booking fee, the assessment of debit card fees is ministerial, involving set
deductions, simple calculations, and a lack of discretion. (See Cardholder Agreement,
Ex. A to KCN’s Answer to Second Am. Compl. [Doc. No. 34-1 at 2-3].) As the Third
Circuit found in Tillman with respect to a $10 per day housing fee, “[i]t is impractical to
expect the prison to provide predeprivation proceedings” given the “low risk of error”
associated with the program.” Tillman, 221 F.3d 410, 422 (3d Cir. 2000). The possible
benefits of any additional safeguards, including a pre-deprivation hearing, are slight and
would be highly impractical and time-consuming, for the same reasons as noted above
with respect to the booking fee. Moreover, not only are arrestees informed of the
issuance of debit cards, they are given information regarding the fees – including
information on how to avoid incurring fees. (Fee Information, Ex. A to Second Am.
Compl. [Doc. No. 14 at 30-33]; Cardholder Agreement, Ex. A to KCN’s Answer to
Second Am. Compl. [Doc. No. 34-1 at 2-3].)
As to the third Mathews factor – the government’s interest – this Court finds, as
others have found, that the government’s interest in “sharing the costs of incarceration
and furthering offender accountability . . . are substantial.” Sickles, 501 F.3d at 732. So
too is “the government’s interest in conserving scarce resources and the administrative
burden on the government resulting from additional procedural requirements.”
Broussard, 318 F.3d at 656. Ramsey County has a strong interest in continuing to assess
a nominal booking fee to offset at least a portion of the administrative costs incurred in
booking detainees.1 Moreover, Ramsey County has an interest in avoiding an additional
hearing before or after it assesses the $25 booking fee. Such an additional administrative
requirement would likely involve substantial resources and potential costs, including
“court time, a judge’s time, and a prosecutor’s time, as well as the property owner’s time,
who may nor may not wish to be there and who may or may not retain an attorney.”
Booker, 2014 WL 3896174, at *4.
Ramsey County likewise has an important interest in returning detainees’ funds to
them in the form of a prepaid debit card. Once the card is provided to the released
detainee, Ramsey County is no longer involved – no further administrative expense is
required. Moreover, the issuance of a debit card provides certain benefits to detainees.
The issuance of a card is immediate, whereas the provision of a check may be delayed.
Moreover, despite Plaintiffs’ contention that incurring fees is unavoidable, released
detainees can avoid the imposition of debit card fees, and are specifically advised about
how to do so in the provided Cardholder Agreement. (See Cardholder Agreement, Ex. A
Ramsey County estimates that the true cost incurred in booking an inmate at the
Adult Detention Center is over $65 per inmate. (Preliminary Estimates for Booking Fee
Charges, Ex. 3 to Lindberg Aff. [Doc. No. 73-3].)
to KCN’s Answer to Second Am. Compl. [Doc. No. 34-1 at 2].) Detainees are
Want to save money on fees? Follow these easy tips:
• Check your balance online or through customer service before using an
• Use your card as a payment method in grocery stores, convenience stores,
drug stores, or anywhere that accepts Debit MasterCard®.
• If your card is rejected at an ATM, never attempt over and over again.
Some ATMs impose a fee even for declined transactions.
• Maintain your account for free online.
• Retain this document for future reference.
(Id.) (emphasis in original). As noted, detainees are also informed of the fees, or lack of
fees, associated with certain uses of the debit cards. (Id.) For example, they can receive
instant, free access to point-of-sale providers and the weekly maintenance fee of $1.50 is
only incurred after 36 hours of issuance. (Id.) In addition, released detainees may track
their purchases online and replace lost cards. (Id. at 2-3.)
In the event of errors or
questions about debit card transactions, detainees are provided with a toll-free number
and mailing address. (Id. at 3.)
Requiring Ramsey County to provide an additional hearing before or after any
such fees are deducted would be impractical and administratively inefficient. Detainees
receive notice regarding the fees, are advised how to avoid incurring fees, and have
recourse with the card issuer to resolve any errors. Balancing the Mathews factors with
respect to the debit card fees, the Court finds that Ramsey County’s interest in providing a
secure, efficient means by which detainees may immediately access their money
outweighs Plaintiffs’ interest in the relatively negligible fees that may possibly be
deducted from their prepaid debit cards. The Court finds no procedural due process
Unlawful Seizure of a Property Interest
While the parties’ memoranda focus primarily on Plaintiffs’ Fourteenth
Amendment due process claims, Plaintiffs’ § 1983 claim also alleges a violation of the
Fourth Amendment. (Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 105-07 [Doc. No. 14].) To the extent that
Plaintiffs address the Fourth Amendment aspect of their § 1983 claim, they contend that
“Ramsey County officials intentionally take money from people being processed into the
ADC. The deprivation of property occurs at the moment the booking fee is separated from
the remainder of a detainee’s property.” (Pls.’ Mem. Supp. Mot. for J. on the Pleadings at
9 [Doc. No. 39].)
While the Court finds that Plaintiffs’ due process claims concern procedural due
process, to the extent that they may be construed to allege substantive due process, they
likewise fail. As noted, substantive due process protects against official conduct that is
conscience-shocking and violative of a fundamental right that is deeply rooted in history,
and implicit in the concept of ordered liberty. Slusarchuk, 346 F.3d at 1181-82.
“[A]ctionable substantive due process claims involve a level of . . . abuse of power so
brutal and offensive that [they do] not comport with traditional ideas of fair play and
decency.” Hart v. City of Little Rock, 432 F.3d 801, 806 (8th Cir. 2005). Here, the
imposition of a $25 booking fee and the possible imposition of small debit card fees do
not rise to the level of conscience-shocking conduct that would support a substantive due
process violation. See Broussard, 318 F.3d at 657-58 (finding no substantive due process
violation where the imposition of bail fees failed to infringe any fundamental rights and
the fees were reasonable administrative charges, not arbitrary charges).
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, made applicable to the
states by the Fourteenth Amendment, provides that “[t]he right of the people to be secure
in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,
shall not be violated. . . .” U.S. Const. amend. IV. Accordingly, every search or seizure
by a government agent must be reasonable. Id. A “seizure” of property occurs when
“‘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)).
When a suspect is brought to a detention facility for booking, law enforcement
officers have broad authority to remove and itemize all property found on the person or in
the person’s possession. Illinois v. Lafayette, 462 U.S. 640, 646 (1983). The standards
used by courts in evaluating the constitutionality of inventory searches are helpful in this
Court’s analysis of Plaintiffs’ claims of unlawful seizure of property. An inventory
search protects the “owner’s property while it remains in police custody,” and also
protects “police against claims or disputes over lost or stolen property” and “from
potential danger[s].” United States v. Smith, 715 F.3d 1110, 1117 (8th Cir. 2013)
(quoting South Dakota v. Opperman, 428 U.S. 364, 369 (1976)). An inventory search
must be reasonable under the totality of the circumstances. United States v. Taylor, 636
F.3d 461, 464 (8th Cir. 2011). “The reasonableness requirement is met when an
inventory search is conducted according to standardized police procedures, which
generally remove the inference that the police have used inventory searches as a
purposeful and general means of discovering evidence of a crime.” Id. (internal quotation
marks omitted); see also United States v. Allen, 713 F.3d 382, 387-88 (8th Cir. 2013)
(stating that examining “all the items removed from the arrestee’s person or possession
and listing or inventorying them is an entirely reasonable administrative procedure.).
Here, Plaintiffs allege that it is “Ramsey County’s policy to confiscate cash and
coin from all persons booked at its detention facilities and return such money in a form
other than cash.” (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 34 [Doc. No. 14].) Plaintiffs also contend that
Ramsey County “confiscates” the $25 booking fee from any of the funds found on the
detainee at booking. (Id. ¶ 49.) Similarly, Plaintiffs assert that the deduction of fees from
the debit cards issued by Ramsey County upon the detainees’ release is an unlawful
seizure. (Id. ¶ 35.) Even if these actions may be characterized as “seizures,” the booking
fees are assessed and collected pursuant to Minnesota state law and, as Plaintiffs
themselves allege, “Ramsey County’s policy.” (See id. ¶ 34.) Ramsey County’s actions
in levying the $25 booking fee were therefore undertaken pursuant to both state law and
county policy. Plaintiffs offer no allegations or facts suggesting that the fees were taken
for any purpose other than pursuant to state law and county policy. Similarly, as to the
fees associated with the debit card, as Plaintiffs again allege, offering prepaid debit cards
to released detainees was undertaken pursuant to Ramsey County policy. Nothing in the
record demonstrates that this practice is unreasonable, improperly administered, or
undertaken in bad faith.
To the extent that Plaintiffs claim that the seizure of their funds upon booking or
through debit card processing fees offends the Fourth Amendment’s reasonableness
requirement because the seizure violates due process, for all of the reasons set forth in the
Court’s due process analysis, Plaintiffs’ claim fails. Accordingly, to the extent that
Plaintiffs’ § 1983 claim is premised on violations of the Fourth Amendment for unlawful
seizure of Plaintiffs’ property interests, the Court finds no constitutional violation.
Failure to Train
As Ramsey County notes, Plaintiffs appear to assert a failure to train claim,
alleging that “Ramsey County is sued directly and also, on all relevant claims, on the
theories of respondeat superior or vicarious liability and pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 466.02
for the unlawful conduct of John Does 1-10. Ramsey County is the political subdivision
charged with training and supervising John Does 1-10.” (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 3 [Doc.
In “limited circumstances,” a local government may be liable under § 1983 for the
inadequate training of its employees, City of Canton, 489 U.S. at 387-88, “where (1) the
[county’s] . . . training practices [were] inadequate; (2) the [county] was deliberately
indifferent to the rights of others in adopting them, such that the ‘failure to train reflects a
deliberate or conscious choice by [the county]’; and (3) an alleged deficiency in the . . .
training procedures actually caused the plaintiff’s injury.” Parrish v. Ball, 594 F.3d 993,
997 (8th Cir. 2010) (citing Andrews v. Fowler, 98 F.3d 1069, 1076 (8th Cir. 1996)). The
Supreme Court has limited such claims to very specific circumstances, explaining,
That a particular officer may be unsatisfactorily trained will not alone
suffice to fasten liability on the city, for the officer’s shortcomings may
have resulted from factors other than a faulty training program. It may be,
for example, that an otherwise sound program has occasionally been
negligently administered. Neither will it suffice to prove that an injury or
accident could have been avoided if an officer had had better or more
training, sufficient to equip him to avoid the particular injury-causing
conduct. Such a claim could be made about almost any encounter resulting
in injury, yet not condemn the adequacy of the program to enable officers to
respond properly to the usual and recurring situations with which they must
deal. And plainly, adequately trained officers occasionally make mistakes;
the fact that they do says little about the training program or the legal basis
for holding the city liable.
City of Canton, 489 U.S. at 390-91 (citations omitted). Thus, a plaintiff must establish
that, through the municipality’s policymakers, it “failed to train or supervise employees
despite: 1) having actual or constructive knowledge of a pattern of similar constitutional
or statutory violations by untrained employees; or 2) the fact that the constitutional
violation alleged was a patently obvious and ‘highly predictable consequence’ of
inadequate training. Sampson v. Schenck, 973 F. Supp. 2d 1058, 1064 (D. Neb. 2013)
(citing Board of Comm’rs of Bryan Cnty., Okla. v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 407–09 (1997)).
The analysis applicable to claims for failure to train likewise applies to claims for failure
to supervise. See Robinette v. Jones, 476 F.3d 585, 591 (8th Cir. 2007) (citing Liebe v.
Norton, 157 F.3d 574, 579 (8th Cir. 1998)).
To the extent that Plaintiffs assert a failure to train or supervise claim against
Ramsey County, because Plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate a constitutional or statutory
violation, as discussed herein, any such claim fails.3 “For there to be section 1983
liability, ‘there must first be a violation of the plaintiff’s constitutional rights.’” Avalos,
382 F.3d at 802 (quoting Shrum ex rel. Kelly v. Kluck, 249 F.3d 773, 777 (8th Cir.
2001)). Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ § 1983 claim is dismissed.
Conspiracy - 42 U.S.C. § 1985
Plaintiffs also assert a claim of conspiracy to violate their civil rights pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1985(3). Although Plaintiffs do not specify the civil rights in question in
their § 1985(3) conspiracy claim, it appears that the conspiracy claim is based on
Defendants’ alleged violations of Plaintiffs’ due process rights, rights against unlawful
seizure, and rights against the denial of a property interest. (Second Am. Compl. ¶¶108111 [Doc. No. 14]) (asserting in § 1985(3) claim, “By their conduct detailed above,
Defendants have been and continue to be jointly engaged in a conspiracy with the purpose
and effect of depriving Plaintiffs . . . of their federally protected civil rights.”) It also
appears that Plaintiffs’ allegations of conspiracy are limited to the imposition and
collection of debit card fees – and not the $25 booking fee – as the Second Amended
Complaint asserts that “[b]y [Defendants’] knowledge that the debit card contract and
policy will result in unavoidable, nonconsensual fees . . . the Defendants’ conspiracy is
Because the Court finds that Plaintiffs’ § 1983 claim fails on the merits, it does
not address the additional argument raised by KCN, FCB, and Outpay that they were not
acting under color of law. (See KCN’s Mem. Supp. Mot. for J. on the Pleadings at 16-18
[Doc. No. 61]; FCB & Outpay’s Mem. Supp. Mot. for J. on the Pleadings at 1-2 [Doc.
No. 66] (adopting arguments raised by co-Defendants).)
undertaken with the purpose and effect of directly and/or indirectly depriving the
Plaintiffs . . . of their constitutionally protected rights.” (Id. ¶ 110.) Because the Second
Amended Complaint does not reference Ramsey County’s $25 booking fee, the Court
confines its analysis to Plaintiffs’ claims of conspiracy related to the debit card fees.4
A plaintiff asserting a conspiracy claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3), must establish
the following: (1) the defendants conspired; (2) with the intent to deprive the plaintiff,
either directly or indirectly, of equal protection of the laws, or equal privileges and
immunities under the laws; (3) an act in furtherance of the conspiracy; and (4) an injury to
the plaintiff’s person or property, or a deprivation of any right or privilege of a citizen of
the United States. Barstad v. Murray Cnty., 420 F.3d 880, 887 (8th Cir. 2005). A
conspiracy claim requires a showing of an agreement between the conspirators to deprive
the plaintiff of his or her civil rights, id., and the agreement must be alleged with
sufficient particularity. Marti v. City of Maplewood, Mo., 57 F.3d 680, 685 (8th Cir.
1995). Conclusory allegations of conspiracy lacking sufficient facts concerning a mutual
understanding or meeting of the mind fail to state a claim under § 1985. Cabal v. United
States Dep’t of Justice, No. 92-2100, 1992 WL 336447, at *2 (8th Cir. Nov. 18, 1992)
(citing Snelling v. Westhoff, 972 F.2d 199, 200 (8th Cir. 1992). Moreover, to
demonstrate the purpose or intent of the conspiracy under § 1985(3), a plaintiff must
demonstrate that race- or class-based animus motivated the defendant’s actions. See
In any event, a §1985(3) claim as to Ramsey County’s $25 booking fee would likely
fail, as it is imposed and collected solely by Ramsey County and not the corporate Defendants.
Griffin v. Breckenridge, 403 U.S. 88, 102 (1971); City of Omaha Employees Betterment
Ass’n v. City of Omaha, 883 F.2d 650, 652 (8th Cir. 1989).
As pleaded, Plaintiffs’ § 1985(3) claim fails to specify the unlawful agreement
among the Defendants – in fact, the Plaintiffs’ conspiracy claim does not mention an
agreement of any kind. (See Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 108-11 [Doc. No. 14].) At most,
Plaintiffs assert that Defendants passively knew that imposing fees would diminish the
value of Plaintiffs’ property and that the conspiracy was undertaken with the purpose of
“depriving Plaintiffs . . . of their constitutionally protected rights.” (Id. ¶ 110.) Yet, as
noted in the Court’s analysis above, Plaintiffs have failed to establish the violation of a
Nor do Plaintiffs allege that the imposition and collection of the debit card fees
was motivated by animus based on race or class. To the extent that Plaintiffs argue in
their motion papers – but do not assert in their pleadings – that Defendants’ actions
disproportionately impact persons of color because such persons may be detained at
disproportionate rates (Pl.’s Mem. Supp. Mot. for J. on the Pleadings at 20-21 [Doc. No.
39]), a disproportionate effect, standing alone, does not demonstrate that such persons are
deprived of equal protection of the laws. See Washington v. Davis, 426 U.S. 229, 242
(1976); see also Henley v. Brown, 686 F.3d 634, 641-42 (2012) (noting, as to a § 1983
claim, that an act does not violate equal protection simply because it has a racially
disproportionate effect; rather, “to amount to a constitutional violation, the act must be
committed with a ‘discriminatory racial purpose.’”); Inmates of Neb. Penal and Corr.
Complex v. Greenholtz, 567 F.2d 1368, 1374-75 (8th Cir. 1977) (“It is incumbent upon
plaintiffs to establish that a racially disproportionate impact, if there is one, was
occasioned by a racially motivated purpose.”). What is lacking here is any allegation,
based on fact, that Defendants agreed to impose and collect the debit card fees with the
purpose of discriminating against persons based on race or class. Nothing before the
Court demonstrates the existence of such a purpose – much less have Plaintiffs alleged
even a bald statement to this effect in their § 1985 claim or in their general factual
allegations. Of course, a bald statement, without more, would fail in any case, as the
claim would fail to contain facts with enough specificity “to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. 555. In any event, the facts, even as pleaded
by Plaintiffs, show that Ramsey County contracted with KCN with respect to the debit
cards. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 9 [Doc. No. 14].) Plaintiffs fail to allege or point to any
facts demonstrating that this contractual agreement was motivated by a desire to deprive
persons of their constitutional rights based on reasons of race or class. In addition, the
facts as alleged by Plaintiffs show that, under the terms of the contract between Ramsey
County and KCN, debit cards were issued by FCB and transactions were processed by
Outpay. (Id. ¶¶ 32-33.) Thus, once Ramsey Count gives a released detainee a card,
Ramsey County has no role in the assessment or collection of debit card fees.
For all of the reasons set forth above, the Court thus finds that Defendants are
entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiffs’ civil conspiracy claim.
State Law Claims
Plaintiffs assert claims of conversion, civil theft under Minn. Stat. § 604.14, and
unjust enrichment against Defendants. As to the portion of these claims based on the
imposition of debit card fees, the Cardholder Agreement provides for the application of
California law. (Cardholder Agreement, Ex. A to KCN’s Answer to Second Am. Compl.
[Doc. No. 34-1 at 2-3].) Because the Court finds that under either Minnesota or
California law, the outcome of the instant motions is the same as to these claims, the
Court need not decide which state’s law to apply. Leonards v. Southern Farm Bureau
Cas. Ins. Co., 279 F.3d 611, 612 (8th Cir. 2002) (noting that when the relevant legal
principles are the same in the states at issue, the court need not resolve which state’s law
“Conversion occurs where one willfully interferes with the personal property of
another ‘without lawful justification,’ depriving the lawful possessor of ‘use and
possession.’” Williamson v. Prasciunas, 661 N.W.2d 645, 649 (Minn. Ct. App. 2003)
(citing DLH, Inc. v. Russ, 566 N.W.2d 60, 71 (Minn. 1997)). The elements of conversion
are: (1) the plaintiff holds a property interest, and (2) the defendant deprives plaintiff of
that interest. Id.; accord Los Angeles Fed. Credit Union v. Madatyan, 147 Cal. Rptr. 3d
771 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012) (stating, “Conversion is the wrongful exercise of dominion over
the property of another. The elements of a conversion claim are: (1) the plaintiff’s
ownership or right to possession of the property; (2) the defendant's conversion by a
wrongful act or disposition of property rights; and (3) damages.”) (citation omitted).
While Plaintiffs hold a property interest in their money, the fees at issue were assessed
with lawful justification. Ramsey County assessed the $25 booking fee pursuant to Minn.
Stat. § 641.12, subd. 1, to cover costs incurred in the booking process.
Likewise, there is nothing unlawful about the imposition of small, administrative
debit card fees, which are largely avoidable, in any event. The assessment of the debit
card fees arises out of a valid, lawful agreement between Ramsey County and KCN.
(Agreement, Ex. A to Second Am. Compl. [Doc. No. 14 at 25-27].) Accordingly,
because the imposition of the booking fee and the debit card fees was lawfully justified,
Plaintiffs’ claim for conversion fails. See Strei v. Blaine, __ F. Supp. 2d __, No. 12-CV1095 (JRT/LIB), 2014 WL 555205, at *19 (D. Minn. Feb. 12, 2014) (plaintiff’s
conversion claim failed where there was no evidence of unlawful actions with respect to
the property); Rachuy v. Pauly, Nos. A13-393, A13-394, 2014 WL 103388, at *3 (Minn.
Ct. App. Jan. 13, 2014) (finding that conversion claim did not lie where the plaintiff
presented no evidence that the officer acted without justification in police seizure of
property); Hassan v. City of Minneapolis, No. C8-00-154, 2000 WL 1051910, at *4
(Minn. Ct. App. Aug. 1, 2000) (concluding that the plaintiff’s conversion claim failed
because there was lawful justification for the seizure of the plaintiff’s property pursuant
to a search warrant); accord Encompass Holdings, Inc. v. Daly, No. C09-1816 BZ, 2011
WL 5024450, at *6 (N. D. Cal. 2011) (finding that a conversion claim under California
law failed where there was no evidence that defendants purported to be the owners of the
property or that defendants’ actions constituted unlawful possession or control). The
Court therefore finds that Plaintiffs’ conversion claim fails and it is dismissed.
Regarding Plaintiffs’ civil theft claim under Minn. Stat. § 604.14, the statute
provides, in relevant part: “Liability for theft of property. A person who steals personal
property from another is civilly liable to the owner of the property for its value when
stolen plus punitive damages of either $50 or up to 100 percent of its value when stolen,
whichever is greater.” Minn. Stat. § 604.14, subd. 1 (emphasis in original). While noting
that there is limited authority addressing Minnesota’s civil theft statute, this Court has
relied upon Minnesota’s criminal theft statute, Minn. Stat. § 609.52, in determining
whether a defendant’s conduct constitutes civil theft. Strei, 2014 WL 555205, at *20.
Among the definitions of theft in Minnesota’s criminal theft statute is the taking of
property “without claim of right.” Minn. Stat. § 609.52, subd. 2(1). This Court “[has
found] this standard to be analogous to the ‘without legal justification’ standard for
conversion and trespass to chattel.” Strei, 2014 WL 555205, at *20. For the reasons
noted above, the imposition of the $25 booking fee and the debit card fees is legally
justified. Assessing and collecting such fees cannot be construed as “theft” or “stealing”
under the civil theft statute. Accordingly, dismissal is appropriate as to Plaintiffs’ civil
For the unjust enrichment claim to survive, Plaintiffs must show that Defendants
“‘knowingly received something of value to which [they were] not entitled, and that the
circumstances are such that it would be unjust for [Defendants] to retain the benefit.’”
Hennepin Cnty. v. Fed. Nat’l. Mortg. Ass’n., 933 F. Supp. 2d 1173, 1179 (D. Minn.
2013) (DSD/TNL) (quoting Schumacher v. Schumacher, 627 N.W.2d 725, 729 (Minn. Ct.
App. 2001)); accord In re ConAgra Foods Inc., 908 F. Supp. 2d 1090, 1113 (C.D. Cal.
2012) (citing Lectrodryer v. SeoulBank, 91 Cal. Rptr. 2d 881 (Cal. Ct. App. 2000)).
Moreover, “‘[u]njust enrichment claims do not lie simply because one party benefits from
the efforts or obligations of others, but instead it must be shown that a party was unjustly
enriched in the sense that the term ‘unjustly’ could mean illegally or unlawfully.’” City
of Maple Grove v. Marketline Const. Capital, LLC, 802 N.W.2d 809, 817-18 (Minn. Ct.
App. 2011) (quoting ServiceMaster of St. Cloud v. GAB Bus. Servs., Inc., 544 N.W.2d
302, 306 (Minn. 1996)). As discussed above, Ramsey County is legally entitled to
impose a booking fee and to contract with third parties for particular services. Pursuant to
KCN’s agreement with Ramsey County, the assessment of debit card fees, or
“coordination fees,” was legally authorized. (Agreement, Ex. A to Second Am. Compl.
[Doc. No. 14 at 26].) Defendants were not “unjustly enriched” by the imposition of these
fees and the equitable remedy of unjust enrichment is unavailing to Plaintiffs.
Defendants’ motion for the dismissal of this claim is granted.
Finally, the Court notes that Plaintiffs do not distinguish among Defendants with
respect to these claims (see Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 112-24 [Doc. No. 14]), although the
record demonstrates that Ramsey County alone assessed the $25 booking fee, whereas
KCN, FCB, and Outpay acted with respect to the debit card fees. Thus, even if these
claims succeeded on the merits, portions of the claims would fail as to the particular
Motion for Class Certification
In light of the dismissal of all of Plaintiffs’ claims, Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class
Certification, Appointment of Class Representatives, and Appointment of Class Counsel
[Doc. No. 21] is denied as moot.
Ramsey County raises various claims of immunity in its memoranda. Because all
of Plaintiffs’ asserted claims against Defendants are dismissed, the Court will not address
THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:
Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification, Appointment of Class
Representatives, and Appointment of Class Counsel [Doc. No. 21] is
DENIED AS MOOT;
Plaintiffs’ Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, or in the Alterative,
Summary Judgment on the Issue of Liability [Doc. No. 38] is DENIED;
Defendant Ramsey County’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Doc.
No. 53] is GRANTED;
Defendant Keefe Commissary Network, L.L.C.’s (“KCN’s”) Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings [Doc. No. 59] is GRANTED; and
Defendants First California Bank and Outpay Systems, L.L.C. (“Outpay’s)
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Doc. No. 64]) is GRANTED;
All claims (Counts I-V) in the Second Amended Complaint [Doc. No. 14]
are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.
Dated: August 26, 2014
s/Susan Richard Nelson
SUSAN RICHARD NELSON
United States District Court Judge
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