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Butler v. City of Richfield

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 18, 2014

Donald Butler, Plaintiff,
v.
City of Richfield; Steve Devich, City Manager of City of Richfield in his official and individual capacities; Chris Link, Operations Superintendent of City of Richfield in his individual and official capacities; Jay Henthorne, Deputy Director/Deputy Chief of Richfield Police Department in his official and individual capacities; Sergeant Dave Kromschroeder, in his individual capacity as a police officer; John Conito, in his individual capacity; Chief's Towing, Inc., contractual entity having authority to act for the City of Richfield, in its official and individual capacities; and Jeff Scheonborn, Chief's Towing General Manager, in his official and individual capacity, Defendants.

Donald Butler, pro se.

Daniel P. Kurtz, Esq., League of Minnesota Cities, St. Paul, MN, on behalf of the City of Richfield, Steve Devich, Chris Link, Jay Henthorne, Sergeant Dave Kromschroeder, and John Conito.

Mark Anthony Gray, Esq., Gray Law, Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of Chief's Towing, Inc., and Jeff Scheonborn.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ANN D. MONTGOMERY, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge for a ruling on Defendants City of Richfield (the "City"), Steve Devich, Jay Henthorne, Sergeant Dave Kromschroeder, and John Conito's (together, the "Richfield Defendants") Motion to Dismiss, or, Alternatively, for Summary Judgment [Docket No. 21] and Defendants Chief's Towing, Inc. ("Chief's Towing") and Jeff Scheonborn's Motion to Dismiss [Docket No. 18]. Plaintiff Donald Butler ("Butler") opposes the motion. On May 20, 2014, Butler filed a motion requesting permission to "appear telephonically" for the hearing on Defendants' motions [Docket No. 36]. Thereafter, the parties agreed a hearing was not necessary, and agreed the motions could be decided on the written submissions. For the reasons stated herein, Defendants' motions are granted.

II. BACKGROUND

On January 18, 2014, it snowed into the early morning hours in the City of Richfield (the "City" or "Richfield"). Butler, a Richfield resident, had parked his vehicle on the city street outside of his residence overnight. Later that morning, at about 9:30 a.m., Butler started his vehicle and ran the engine for several minutes to ensure the battery was still functioning. He then returned inside. At 11 a.m., Butler went back outside and discovered his car had been towed. 1st Am. Compl. [Docket No. 8] ¶¶ 21-22 ("Am. Compl."). The next day, on January 19, 2014, Butler retrieved his car from the city impound lot, where he also received a tow notice from Chief's Towing and a citation for failing to abide by the city's snow ordinance. Id . ¶¶ 23-24.

On January 30, 2014, Butler filed this action in federal court. On February 21, 2014, Butler's vehicle was again ticketed and towed by Chief's Towing. Thereafter, Butler again retrieved the vehicle from the impound lot. Id . ¶¶ 26, 28. On March 18, 2014, Butler filed his First Amended Complaint, in which he incorporated allegations pertaining to the February 21 impoundment of his vehicle.

Butler alleges three claims: (1) the City's snow ordinance, Richfield City Code § 1305.13, is unconstitutionally vague; (2) Defendants deprived Butler of his procedural and substantive due process rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments; and (3) Defendants are civilly liable for theft due to their improper towing of Butler's vehicle. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 32-46. For these claims, Butler seeks reimbursement for his fines and towing costs, an injunction barring enforcement of the City's snow ordinance, and $95, 000 in compensatory punitive damages. Id.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Motion to Dismiss Standard

Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states a party may move to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court views the pleadings in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Hamm v. Groose , 15 F.3d 110, 112 (8th Cir. 1994) (citation omitted). The court also assumes the truth of the complaint's factual allegations, but "must reject conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences." Silver v. H&R Block, Inc. , 105 F.3d 394, 397 (8th Cir. 1997). ...


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