Mickelson v. Cnty. of Ramsey, 14–3164.

Citation823 F.3d 918
Decision Date04 May 2016
Docket NumberNo. 14–3164.,14–3164.
PartiesErik MICKELSON; Corey Statham, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs–Appellants v. COUNTY OF RAMSEY; Keefe Commissary Network, L.L.C., doing business as Access Corrections; First California Bank; Outpay Systems, L.L.C.; John Does 1–10, Defendants–Appellees.
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)

James Burnham, argued, Washington, DC, (Joshua R. Williams, Timothy M. Phillips, Minneapolis, MN, Michael Anthony Carvin, Bryan J. Leitch, Washington, DC, on the brief), for appellant.

Jason Michael Hiveley, argued, Bloomington, MN, (Susan Marie Tindal, Bloomington, MN, on the brief), for appellee County of Ramsey.

Daniel Lewis Payne, argued, Minneapolis, MN, (Marty Eugene Moore, Logan, UT, Melissa Dosick Riethof, Minneapolis, MN, on the brief), for appellees First California Bank and Outpay Systems, LLC.

Russell S. Ponessa, argued, Minneapolis, MN, (Jessica L. Nelson, Minneapolis, MN, on the brief) for appellee Keefe Commissary Network.

Before WOLLMAN, BYE, and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.1

GRUENDER

, Circuit Judge.

Ramsey County, Minnesota collects all of a detained arrestee's cash upon booking. From this cash, the county automatically deducts a $25 booking fee. The county later returns the arrestee's remaining funds in the form of a prepaid debit card. Erik Mickelson and Corey Statham, two men previously arrested in Ramsey County, filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983

action contending that the policies underlying these practices violated their Fourteenth Amendment rights. The district court2 granted the defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings. We affirm.

I.

Under Minnesota law, a “county board may require that each person who is booked for confinement at a county or regional jail, and not released upon completion of the booking process, pay a fee to the sheriff's department.” Minn.Stat. § 641.12, subdiv. 1

. This “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.” Id. Pursuant to this statute, Ramsey County collects $25 from each person who is booked into and not immediately released from its county detention facility. The county takes this sum from the cash an arrestee is carrying at the time of booking. If the arrestee is not carrying sufficient cash, the county charges the fee and places the arrestee's detention-facility account into a negative balance. An inmate must satisfy this balance before he or she can purchase items from the jail commissary or receive a disbursement of funds. If the arrestee has no funds at the time of booking or during the period of incarceration, the county court may order payment of the fee as part of any sentence imposed. Id.

Persons arrested and detained in Ramsey County are entitled to a refund of the booking fee in three scenarios. First, an arrestee can recover the funds if he or she is not charged with a crime. Second, an arrestee may receive a refund if charges are dismissed. Finally, an arrestee may recover the $25 upon acquittal. To facilitate the refund process, the Ramsey County sheriff's department, according to a written policy, must give all released inmates a “Booking Fee Refund Form.” Eligible inmates who properly submit this form can recover the $25 taken for the booking fee.

Ramsey County also has a policy of confiscating all cash arrestees have at the time they are booked into the county detention center. Instead of returning cash to detainees upon release, the county issues prepaid debit cards for a sum equal to the value of the confiscated cash less the booking fee. Along with the card, arrestees receive a cardholder agreement explaining the fees associated with certain card uses. The fees include:

Card Usage Fees Charge
Card Activation Fee FREE
Weekly Maintenance $1.50
Support Calls Fee FREE
PIN Change Fee FREE
Domestic ATM Fees $2.75
International ATM Fees $3.75
ATM Account Inquiry $1.50
POS Debit Fee (Pin and Signature) FREE
ATM Decline for NSF $2.75
Card to Bank Transfer (ACH) Fee $3.00

The card starts incurring weekly maintenance fees after thirty-six hours. Withdrawing cash will result in an ATM fee. Materials provided along with the card include a website address providing customer service and a toll-free number that arrestees may call. These resources advise cardholders how to avoid all fees—such as by spending all of the funds on the card before the weekly maintenance fee accrues—and how to minimize other possible fees. Several private entities work with the county to provide these cards. Keefe Commissary Network, L.L.C. (KCN) coordinates the Ramsey County inmate trust-fund and release-services program. First California Bank (FCB), issues the prepaid debit cards. Finally, Outpay Systems, L.L.C., (Outpay) processes any debit-card transactions.

Erik Mickelson and Corey Statham, the plaintiffs in the present suit, were arrested in Ramsey County and subjected to the above-described policies and fees. Mickelson was arrested for violating a noise ordinance. Police booked him into the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center and confiscated his personal property, including $95 cash. Upon his release, Mickelson received a debit card carrying $70, a value that represented his $95 in cash less the $25 booking fee. He subsequently incurred $5 in fees while using the debit card. Mickelson ultimately pleaded guilty to violating a city ordinance.

Statham was arrested for disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process. He was carrying $46 in cash when police booked him into the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center. Upon his release, Statham received a debit card containing $21. His debit-card fees amounted to $7.25. All charges against Statham eventually were dismissed. Despite this dismissal, Statham did not receive a refund of the $25 booking fee.

Mickelson and Statham sued Ramsey County, KCN, FCB, and Outpay, alleging four claims related to the booking-fee and debit-card policies: (1) defendants were liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983

for violating the plaintiffs' Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, (2) defendants were liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983

for conspiring to violate the plaintiffs' civil rights, (3) defendants committed conversion, and (4) defendants committed civil theft under § 604.14 of the Minnesota statutes. The defendants answered, acknowledging that they administered and enforced the contested policies. The plaintiffs and the defendants filed cross motions for judgment on the pleadings. Mickelson and Statham alternatively moved for summary judgment. The court considered the record before it, including Ramsey County's written policy. The court denied Mickelson and Statham's motions and denied their class-certification motion as moot. The court granted the defendants' motions and entered judgment in favor of Ramsey County, KCN, FCB, and Outpay. Mickelson and Statham now appeal, arguing only that the district court erred by granting judgment for the defendants on the due process claims.

II.

We review a judgment on the pleadings de novo. Williams v. Bradshaw, 459 F.3d 846, 848 (8th Cir.2006)

. In doing so, [w]e apply ‘the same standard as when we review the grant of a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).’ McIvor v. Credit Control Servs., Inc., 773 F.3d 909, 912–13 (8th Cir.2014) (quoting Packard v. Darveau, 759 F.3d 897, 900 (8th Cir.2014) ). To survive a motion for judgment on the pleadings, a “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) ). [W]ell-pleaded facts, not legal theories or conclusions, determine [the] adequacy of [t]he complaint.” Clemons v. Crawford, 585 F.3d 1119, 1124 (8th Cir.2009) (alterations in original) (quoting Mattes v. ABC Plastics, Inc., 323 F.3d 695, 698 (8th Cir.2003) ). “The facts alleged in the complaint must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. (quoting Drobnak v. Andersen Corp., 561 F.3d 778, 783 (8th Cir.2009) ). “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief ... [is] a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, 129 S.Ct. 1937. We may consider materials that necessarily are embraced by the pleadings or that are part of the public record and do not contradict the complaint. Porous Media Corp. v. Pall Corp., 186 F.3d 1077, 1079 (8th Cir.1999).

A.

Mickelson and Statham argue first that the district court erred by determining that the county's system of immediately collecting the booking fee complies with procedural due process. In this appeal, Mickelson and Statham raise no substantive due process or equal protection challenge to the statutorily authorized fee itself. Instead, they contend only that the county violates the Fourteenth Amendment by deducting the fee before first conducting a pre-deprivation hearing. They suggest that the county, to avoid a constitutional violation, must delay collection until an arrestee has been afforded the type of hearing associated with conviction. Our court therefore must determine whether the district court correctly held that the county did not violate the arrestees' constitutional rights by collecting the $25 fee at booking without affording a pre-deprivation hearing.

As an initial matter, we agree that Mickelson and Statham had a property interest in the $25 used to pay the booking fee. The booking-fee policy thus implicates procedural due process, and “the question remains what process is due.” Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471, 481, 92 S.Ct. 2593, 33 L.Ed.2d 484 (1972)

. The requirements of due process are not rigid; rather, they “call[ ] for such procedural protections as the particular...

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