Dawain Bell and Alice Spinks, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
City of Chicago, Defendant-Appellee.
February 11, 2016
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 14 C 7382 - Gary
Ripple, Kanne, and Williams, Circuit Judges.
September 2012, Chicago Police Department officers arrested
Plaintiff Dawain Bell for possession of a controlled
substance. At the time, Bell was driving Plaintiff Alice
Spinks's vehicle. Chicago Police impounded the vehicle
after Bell's arrest pursuant to Chicago Municipal Code
§ 7-24-225, which permits police to impound a vehicle
when officers have probable cause to believe it contained a
controlled substance or was used in an illegal drug
challenged the impoundment two days later at a hearing before
an administrative law judge ("ALJ") in the City of
Chicago's Department of Administrative Hearings. The ALJ
determined that probable cause existed to impound the vehicle
because at the time of impoundment it contained
"unlawful drugs" in violation of § 7-24-225.
Less than a month later, an ALJ found Spinks liable for
violating § 7-24-225 and ordered that she pay the
prescribed penalty of $2, 000 plus $180 in storage and towing
fees. There is no evidence that Spinks
challenged the ALJ's determination in Cook County Circuit
Court, which she had the right to do.
and Bell ("Plaintiffs") filed this lawsuit against
Defendant City of Chicago ("City") in Cook County
Circuit Court in 2014, alleging, amongst other theories, that
the City's impoundment-related ordinances violated
Illinois law and were facially invalid under the Fourth
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The City removed the
action to federal court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441
based on Plaintiffs' allegations that the impoundment
ordinance violated the Fourth Amendment. The City then moved
to dismiss the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. After
allowing Plaintiffs to amend their complaint, the district
court deemed the City's previously filed motion to
dismiss applied to the amended complaint and granted the
motion. In doing so, the district court only dismissed
Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment claim with prejudice and
remanded Plaintiffs' remaining state law claims to state
court. This appeal followed.
review de novo a district court's decision to
dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(6). Vesely v. Armslist LLC, 762 F.3d 661,
664 (7th Cir. 2014). In evaluating a complaint's
sufficiency, "we construe it in the light most favorable
to the nonmoving party, accept well-pleaded facts as true,
and draw all inferences in [the party's] favor."
Reynolds v. CB Sports Bar, Inc., 623 F.3d 1143, 1146
(7th Cir. 2010). While a plaintiff need not plead
"detailed factual allegations" to survive a motion
to dismiss, she still must provide more than mere
"labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action" for her complaint to be
considered adequate under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
two principal arguments are that the City's
impoundment-related ordinances ("Ordinances") are
facially invalid under the Fourth Amendment because the
Ordinances: (1)permit warrantless seizure of vehicles in all
instances and (2)allow for a non-judicial officer -a City
ALJ-to determine whether probable cause exists to allow the
vehicle to remain seized. Plaintiffs' remaining arguments
are frivolous and do not warrant further discussion.
is no categorical bar to mounting a facial challenge under
the Fourth Amendment, City of Los Angeles v. Patel,
135 S.Ct. 2443, 2449 (2015), but, in doing so, Plaintiffs
assume a demanding burden-"establish[ing] that a Taw is
unconstitutional in all of its applications, '"
id. at 2451 (quoting Wash. State Grange v. Wash.
State Republican Party, 552 U.S. 442, 449 (2008)).
Although "such challenges are the most difficult... to
mount successfully, '' the Supreme Court has recently
clarified that the proper inquiry under this "exacting
standard" should be "only [on] applications of the
statute in which it actually authorizes or prohibits
conduct." Id. at 2449, 2451 (internal quotation
Warrantless Seizure of Vehicles
Fourth Amendment provides, in relevant part, for "[t]he
right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,
papers, and effects, against unreasonable ... seizures
...." (emphasis added). The Supreme Court has
explained that "[a] 'seizure' of property occurs
when there is some meaningful interference with an
individual's possessory interests in that property"
caused by a government actor. United States v.
Ja-cobsen, 466 U.S. 109, 113 (1984). In evaluating such
a challenge, we must determine whether the
"seizure" of property was "unreasonable,
" a determination that requires a "balancing of
governmental and private interests." New Jersey v.
T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325, 341 (1985). Generally,
"seizures of personal property are unreasonable within
the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, without more, unless ...
accomplished pursuant to a judicial warrant."
Illinois v. McArthur, 531 U.S. 326, 330 (2001)
(alteration in original and internal quotation marks
omitted). But because "reasonableness is still the
ultimate standard under the Fourth Amendment, "
Soldal v. Cook Cty., III., 506 U.S. 56, 71 (1992)
(internal quotation marks omitted), there are exceptions that
allow for warrantless seizures, see McArthur, 531
U.S. at 330-31.
argue that the City's Ordinances-§§ 2-14-101
(Seized/unclaimed property), 2-14-132 (Impoundment), and
2-14-135 (Impoundment-Towing and storage fee hearing) - are
facially invalid under the Fourth Amendment because the
Ordinances allow for warrantless seizures of vehicles in all
cases. Because Plaintiffs have mounted a facial challenge,
"the proper focus of the constitutional inquiry is
[seizures] that the law actually authorizes, not those for
which it is irrelevant." Patel, 135 S.Ct. at
2451. Under this demanding standard, Plaintiffs must
demonstrate that the Ordinances are unconstitutional in
all the seizures that the Ordinances "actually
authorize." Id. Stated differently,
Plaintiffs must show the Ordinances' "actual
applications" are unconstitutional. Id. We need
not proceed very far in our inquiry, however, to determine
that Plaintiffs' facial challenge fails, as the
Ordinances' "actual application" in their
case does not violate the Fourth Amendment.
2-14-132 is the general provision that allows a police
officer or authorized City agent to impound a vehicle
involved in a "status-related offense" and a
"use-related offense." A "status-related
offense" is an offense related to a violation of a
registration-related ordinance whereas a "use-related
offense" is one where the vehicle is used in an illegal
manner or in connection with an illegal act, such as
possession of illegal drugs in a vehicle, drag racing, or
solicitation of a prostitute. Regardless of the type of
substantive offense, the Ordinances require that the officer
or authorized City agent ...