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Hopkins v. City of Bloomington

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

September 25, 2013

ANTONNETTE A. HOPKINS, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF BLOOMINGTON, Defendant.

A. L. Brown, CAPITOL CITY LAW GROUP, LLC, 155 South Wabasha, Suite 125, St. Paul, MN 55107, for plaintiff.

Jon K. Iverson and Amanda L. Stubson, IVERSON REUVERS CONDON, 9321 Ensign Avenue South, Bloomington, MN 55438, for defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

JOHN R. TUNHEIM, District Judge.

This case arises out of the seizure of Plaintiff Antonnette Hopkins' vehicle after her arrest for driving under the influence. The City of Bloomington ("the City") seized and impounded her vehicle pursuant to Minnesota's vehicle forfeiture statute, Minn. Stat. § 169A.63. Hopkins was charged with one count of second-degree driving while intoxicated, and her vehicle has remained impounded as she awaits the conclusion of her criminal proceedings.

Hopkins brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the City's seizure and retention of her vehicle violated her constitutional right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment and right to be free from unreasonable seizures under the Fourth Amendment. Hopkins also brings claims alleging identical violations under the Minnesota Constitution. The City moves to dismiss these claims. Because Hopkins was not entitled to predeprivation process under the circumstances and Hopkins has failed to exhaust her state postdeprivation remedies, the Court will dismiss Hopkins' due process claim. Additionally, the Court will dismiss Hopkins' Fourth Amendment claim because the City's prolonged retention of Hopkins' vehicle does not implicate the Fourth Amendment. Finally, the Court will dismiss Hopkins' claims under the Minnesota Constitution for failure to state a claim.

BACKGROUND[1]

I. HOPKINS' CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS

Shortly after 2:00 a.m. on March 16, 2011, Bloomington Police Officer Nick Sassor initiated a traffic stop after he observed Hopkins driving erratically and speeding. (Compl. ¶ 7, Aug. 8, 2012, Docket No. 1; Aff. of Jon K. Iverson, Ex. A at 2, Jan. 3, 2013, Docket No. 18.) After performing field sobriety tests and administering a preliminary breath test which indicated a blood alcohol concentration of 0.246, Officer Sassor arrested Hopkins and transported her to the Bloomington Police Department. (Compl. ¶ 8; Iverson Aff., Ex. A at 2.) At the police station, Hopkins agreed to submit to another breath test which revealed a blood alcohol concentration of 0.24. (Iverson Aff., Ex. A at 2.) Police searched Hopkins' driving record and found that Hopkins' license had previously been revoked twice as the result of alcohol related driving incidents in November 2000 and December 2005. ( Id. )

On March 16, 2011, Hopkins was charged with one count of second-degree driving while intoxicated pursuant to Minn. Stat. §§ 169A.20, subd. 1(5); 169A.25. (Iverson Aff., Ex. A at 3.) Hopkins made an initial appearance in Hennepin County District Court and was conditionally released after posting bond. ( Id., Ex. D at 2.)

On August 31, 2011, Hopkins brought a motion seeking disclosure of the source code for the model of breathalyzer used in her arrest, or in the alternative the exclusion at trial of all evidence regarding her breath test results. ( Id., Ex. D at 2, Ex. E.) Hopkins' case was continued, along with thousands of other Minnesota state cases in which defendants challenged the reliability of breathalyzer results due to defects in the source code of the model of breathalyzer used in Hopkins' arrest, pending resolution of the source code issue by the Minnesota Supreme Court. ( Id., Ex. E.) On June 27, 2012, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the challenged breathalyzer was reliable when measuring breath alcohol concentration. In re Source Code Evidentiary Hearings in Implied Consent Matters, 816 N.W.2d 525 (Minn. 2012). The court also held that the challenging defendants could not present evidence of the alleged source code defects in their individual trials and hearings. Id. at 540-42. Following the Minnesota Supreme Court's ruling, Hopkins' criminal case proceeded and a jury trial was scheduled for February 6, 2013. (Iverson Aff., Ex. D at 3.)[2]

II. SEIZURE OF HOPKINS' VEHICLE

Hopkins is the registered owner of the 2007 Infiniti QX56 ("the Vehicle") that she was driving at the time of her March 16, 2011 arrest. (Compl. ¶ 6.) Bloomington police had the vehicle towed from the scene of the arrest without a judicial order and the vehicle was impounded at a City facility. ( Id. ¶¶ 9-10, 12.) The Vehicle has been in the City's possession since Hopkins' arrest. ( Id. ¶ 15.) After her arrest, Hopkins was given a notice and order of license revocation, license plate impoundment, and a notice of seizure and intent to forfeit her vehicle. ( Id. ¶ 9; Iverson Aff., Ex. C at 5.)

On March 30, 2011, while the source code issue was pending before the Minnesota Supreme Court, Hopkins filed a Demand for Judicial Determination ("the Demand") challenging the forfeiture of her vehicle. (Iverson Aff., Ex. G.) In the Demand, Hopkins challenged numerous aspects of the forfeiture including the legality of her arrest, the validity of her breathalyzer results, the voluntariness of her submission to chemical testing, and the constitutionality of the vehicle forfeiture statute both on its face and as applied. ( Id. ) Because the vehicle forfeiture statute provides that a judicial determination regarding a demand "must not precede adjudication in the criminal prosecution of the designated offense without the consent of the prosecuting authority, " and Hopkins had not obtained the prosecutor's consent, no hearing was scheduled regarding Hopkins' Demand. See Minn. Stat. § 169A.63, subd. 9(d). On September 5, 2012, Hopkins voluntarily withdrew and dismissed her Demand. (Iverson Aff., Ex. I.) Hopkins' civil case based on the Demand was closed on September 26, 2012. ( Id. )

On August 8, 2012, Hopkins filed a complaint with this Court against the City and Hennepin County.[3] Hopkins alleges that the City's seizure of her vehicle violated the due process clauses of both the Federal and Minnesota Constitution, and also constituted an unreasonable seizure under both constitutions. (Compl. ¶¶ 38-55.) Additionally, Hopkins states in her complaint that she "would represent a class of persons who have had their vehicles seized and forfeited by municipal defendants under Minnesota Stat. § 169A.63." ( Id. ¶ 29.)

ANALYSIS

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

In reviewing a motion to dismiss brought under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court considers all facts alleged in the complaint as true to determine if the complaint states a "claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" See, e.g., Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must provide more than "labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.'" Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. "Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility, " and therefore must be dismissed. Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). Rule 12(b)(6) also authorizes the Court to dismiss a claim on the basis of a dispositive legal issue. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326-27 (1989).

Generally a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) must be treated as a motion for summary judgment if "matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). Although "matters outside the pleadings may not be considered in deciding a Rule 12 motion to dismiss, documents necessarily embraced by the complaint are not matters outside the pleading." Enervations, Inc. v. Minn. Mining & Mfg. Co., 380 F.3d 1066, 1069 (8th Cir. 2004) (internal quotation marks omitted). Documents embraced by the pleadings include those "whose contents are alleged in a complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, but which are not physically attached to the pleading." Kushner v. Beverly Enters., Inc., 317 F.3d 820, 831 (8th Cir. 2003). ...


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