Blair et al v. City Of Hannibal, Missouri et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER. (See Full Order.) IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc.'s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [ECF No. 55 ] is GRANTED, in part, and DENIED, in part. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Count I of P laintiffs' Amended Class Action Complaint [ECF No. 16 ] be DISMISSED, as to Defendant Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Brief [ECF No. 65 ] is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc.'s Motion to Strike Plaintiffs' Untimely Memorandum [ECF No. 64 ] is DENIED, as moot. Signed by District Judge E. Richard Webber on 12/15/2016. (CBL)
Case: 2:15-cv-00061-ERW Doc. #: 68 Filed: 12/15/16 Page: 1 of 7 PageID #: 832
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
JACOB BLAIR, et al.,
CITY OF HANNIBAL, et al.,
Case No. 2:15CV00061 ERW
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc.’s
Supplemental Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [ECF No. 55] and Redflex Traffic Systems,
Inc.’s Motion to Strike Plaintiffs’ Untimely Memorandum [ECF No. 64].
Plaintiffs Jacob Blair and Sarah Blair (“Plaintiffs”) filed a Class Action Complaint in this
Court on August 25, 2015, against Defendants City of Hannibal (“Hannibal”), Redflex Traffic
Systems, Inc. (“Redflex”) and Does 1 through 24 alleging Hannibal’s red light camera program
is unconstitutional [ECF No. 1]. On November 16, 2015, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint
against Defendants asserting the following eight counts: (1) Declaratory Judgment and
Injunction pursuant to Missouri Revised Statute § 527.010 et seq; (2) Violation of Plaintiffs’
Constitutional Rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States
Constitution and Article I § 10 of the Missouri Constitution; (3) Unjust Enrichment, (4) Abuse of
Process; (5) Civil Conspiracy; (6) Aiding and Abetting against Redflex; (7) Damages for
Violation of Missouri Revised Statute § 484.010, et seq, against Redflex; and (8) Money Had
Case: 2:15-cv-00061-ERW Doc. #: 68 Filed: 12/15/16 Page: 2 of 7 PageID #: 833
and Received [ECF No. 16]. Counts II through VIII against Redflex, and all counts against
Hannibal were dismissed when the Court granted previous motions for judgment on the
pleadings filed by Defendants. Currently pending before the Court is Redflex’s Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings seeking to dismiss Count I.
The Court adopts the following statement of facts as well-pleaded allegations in
Plaintiffs’ Complaint [ECF No. 16]. Ginsburg v. Inbev NV/SA, 623 F.3d 1229, 1233 n.3 (8th Cir.
2010); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). On or about May 18, 2007, Hannibal and
Redflex entered into a contract for Redflex to install and operate a red light camera system in
Hannibal. In December 2011, Plaintiff Joseph Blair received a ticket as a result of the red light
camera system, was issued a fine, and paid the fine. At the end of 2012, or beginning of 2013,
Plaintiff Sarah Blair received a ticket as a result of the red light camera system, was issued a fine,
and paid the fine. Defendants shared revenue of approximately $500,000 annually since 2007, a
sum greater than the cost of the program.
Redflex played an integral role in the program including advising Hannibal about the
program, analyzing and making judgments regarding whether a violation occurred, sending
notices of violations, collecting fines, and providing a customer service line. Redflex advised
persons who had received notices of violation to pay the fine. Redflex and its paid employees are
not attorneys licensed in the State of Missouri.
On June 19, 2007, the Hannibal City Council passed Ordinance 4412 which allowed for
detection of violations of traffic control ordinances through an automated red light enforcement
Case: 2:15-cv-00061-ERW Doc. #: 68 Filed: 12/15/16 Page: 3 of 7 PageID #: 834
system.1 On March 6, 2012, the Hannibal City Council revoked Ordinance 4412 and replaced it
with Ordinance 4599 which governed the use of the automated red light enforcement system. On
November 12, 2013, Hannibal City Council revoked Ordinance 4599 and replaced it with
Ordinance 4652 to govern the use of the automated red light enforcement system.2
In Count I, Plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment against Redflex concerning the
following: (1) whether the ordinance is void because it conflicts with Missouri state law; (2)
whether Hannibal had authority to enact the ordinance; (3) whether Defendants circumvented
Missouri state laws mandating the assessment of points for moving violations; (4) whether
Defendants have authority to reclassify violations of red light traffic signals as non-moving
infractions; (5) whether it is lawful for Hannibal to create a rule of evidence in the ordinance by
establishing liability based on vehicle ownership; (6) whether Defendants can lawfully prosecute
vehicle owners if the owner was not driving at the time of the violation; (7) whether the
ordinance or Defendants’ conduct violates the Missouri Constitution or the United States
Constitution when compelling the accused to testify to prove their innocence; (8) whether the
ordinance or Defendants’ conduct violates the Missouri Constitution or United States
Constitution by depriving Plaintiffs of due process of law; (9) whether the ordinance is invalid
because it is for the purpose of generating revenue; (10) whether the ordinance or Defendants’
conduct violates public policy; (11) whether the continuous monitoring by the program
constitutes an unreasonable search made without probable cause; and (12) whether Plaintiffs are
entitled to recover the fine payments made pursuant to the void ordinance.
These facts are not in Plaintiffs’ complaint but are contained in the Ordinances. The Court is permitted to take
judicial notice of public records and consider them on this motion. See Blankenship v. Medtronic Inc., 6 F.Supp.3d
979, 983 n.1 (E.D. Mo. 2014).
The Court will refer to the red light system created in the Ordinances and administered by Hannibal and Redflex as
the red light program.
Case: 2:15-cv-00061-ERW Doc. #: 68 Filed: 12/15/16 Page: 4 of 7 PageID #: 835
Generally, a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings is reviewed under the same
standard as a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Ginsburg, 623 F.3d at 1233, n. 3; Clemons v.
Crawford, 585 F .3d 1119, 1124 (8th Cir. 2009); Ashley County v. Pfizer, 552 F.3d 659, 665 (8th
Cir. 2009). The Court must view the allegations in the Complaint liberally and in the light most
favorable to Plaintiffs. Eckert v. Titan Tire Corp., 514 F.3d 801, 806 (8th Cir. 2008) (citing
Luney v. SGS Auto. Servs,, 432 F.3d 866, 867 (8th Cir. 2005)). The Court “must accept the
allegations contained in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
nonmoving party.” Coons v. Mineta, 410 F.3d 1036, 1039 (8th Cir. 2005). A complaint must
have “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007) (abrogating the “no set of facts” standard for Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6) found in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45–46 (1957)). To prove the grounds for
entitlement of relief, a plaintiff must provide more than labels and conclusions, and “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 555;
Huang v. Gateway Hotel Holdings, 520 F.Supp.2d 1137, 1140 (E.D.Mo. 2007).
“[T]he Court generally must ignore materials outside the pleadings, but it may consider
‘some materials that are part of the public record or do not contradict the complaint.’” State ex
rel. Nixon v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe, 164 F.3d 1102, 1107 (8th Cir. 1999). Additionally, the Court
may consider materials that are “necessarily embraced by the pleadings.” Piper Jaffray Cos. v.
National Union Fire Ins. Co., 967 F. Supp. 1148, 1152 (D.Minn. 1997); Porous Media Corp. v.
Pall Corp., 186 F.3d 1077, 1079 (8th Cir. 1999).
Case: 2:15-cv-00061-ERW Doc. #: 68 Filed: 12/15/16 Page: 5 of 7 PageID #: 836
Redflex asserts Count I must be dismissed because Plaintiffs’ opportunity to appear in
municipal court and challenge Hannibal’s ordinance and procedures provides a complete,
adequate remedy at law. Plaintiffs argue there was never an opportunity to dispute Redflex’s
involvement at a municipal hearing because Redflex would not have been a party to the hearing.
Central to Count I is Plaintiffs’ request Hannibal’s ordinance be declared void and
unenforceable. For Plaintiffs to get the relief they request in each part of Count I, the Court must
find the ordinance void. However, Hannibal, the party who created the ordinance and is charged
with enforcing the ordinance, is no longer a party to the case. Therefore, the issue before the
Court is not whether there is an adequate remedy at law but rather, whether the Court can redress
Plaintiffs’ injury. If the Court is unable to redress the injury, it lacks standing and the matter
must be dismissed.
“To establish Article III standing, a plaintiff must show (1) an injury in fact, (2) a
sufficient causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of, and (3) a
likelihood that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision.” Susan B. Anthony List v.
Driehaus, 134 S. Ct. 2334, 2341 (2014) (internal quotations omitted). By the mere bringing of
his suit, every plaintiff demonstrates his believe that a favorable judgment will make him happier
. . . [but] psychic satisfaction is not an acceptable Article III remedy because it does not redress a
cognizable Article III injury. Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Environment, 523 U.S. 83, 107
(1998). “It is substantially more difficult for a petitioner to establish redressability where the
alleged injury arises from” a third party not before the Court. Robbins v. U.S. Dept of Housing &
Urban Dev., 72 F.Supp.3d 1, 7 (D.D.C. 2014).
The Court cannot redress Plaintiffs’ injury because Hannibal is not before the Court. If
the Court were to grant the declaratory judgment, it would not be enforceable against Hannibal
Case: 2:15-cv-00061-ERW Doc. #: 68 Filed: 12/15/16 Page: 6 of 7 PageID #: 837
and Plaintiffs’ injury, the payment of an allegedly unconstitutional ticket, would not be
redressed. Courts cannot issue advisory opinions, which is what would occur here because a
finding the ordinance is unconstitutional would be entered only against Redflex. Hannibal would
be able to proceed operating the program and the ordinance would need to be challenged against
Hannibal in an additional court proceeding.
Plaintiffs’ argue the declaratory judgment also asks for recovery of the payments made
under the ordinance which Redflex could disgorge. However, Plaintiffs have not asserted any
legal authority which would allow the Court to award these payments as damages. All of
Plaintiffs counts under which they could seek damages, including unjust enrichment and money
had and received, have been dismissed. In their briefs and at oral argument, Plaintiffs asserted
many arguments and facts in support of denying the Motion which are not contained in their
Amended Complaint. The Court cannot consider these because they are outside the pleadings.
“[T]he Court generally must ignore materials outside the pleadings, but it may consider ‘some
materials that are part of the public record or do not contradict the complaint.’” State ex rel.
Nixon v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe, 164 F.3d 1102, 1107 (8th Cir. 1999).
The relief requested under the declaratory judgment requires Hannibal to be a party to
this action. “Where the prospect of effective relief against a defendant depends on the actions of
a third party, no justiciable controversy exists against that defendant.” Duke Power Co. v.
Carolina Environmental Study Group, Inc., 438 U.S. 59, 101 (1978) (J. Rehnquist concurring)
(citing Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 505 (1975)). Therefore, Count I against Redflex must be
dismissed for lack of standing.
Case: 2:15-cv-00061-ERW Doc. #: 68 Filed: 12/15/16 Page: 7 of 7 PageID #: 838
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc.’s Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings [ECF No. 55] is GRANTED, in part, and DENIED, in part.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Count I of Plaintiffs’ Amended Class Action
Complaint [ECF No. 16] be DISMISSED, as to Defendant Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiffs’ Motion for Leave to File Supplemental
Brief [ECF No. 65] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc.’s Motion to Strike
Plaintiffs’ Untimely Memorandum [ECF No. 64] is DENIED, as moot.
So Ordered this 15th day of December, 2016.
E. RICHARD WEBBER
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?