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Mickelson v. County of Ramsey

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 26, 2014

Erik Mickelson and Corey Statham, Plaintiffs,
v.
County of Ramsey, Keefe Commissary Network, L.L.C., First California Bank, Outpay Systems, L.L.C., and John Does 1-10, Defendants.

Joshua R. Williams and Timothy M. Phillips, Law Office of Joshua R. Williams, PLLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for Plaintiffs

Jason M. Hively and Susan M. Tindal, Iverson Reuvers Condon, Bloomington, Minnesota, for Defendant Ramsey County.

Russell S. Ponessa and Michael T. Berger, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for Defendant Keefe Commissary Network, LLC.

Marty E. Moore, Peck Hadfield, Baxter & Moore, LLC, Logan, Utah, and Daniel L. Payne, Meagher & Geer, PLLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for Defendants First California Bank and Outpay Systems, L.L.C.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification, Appointment of Class Representatives, and Appointment of Class Counsel [Doc. No. 21]; Plaintiffs' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, or in the Alterative, Summary Judgment on the Issue of Liability [Doc. No. 38]; Defendant Ramsey County's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Doc. No. 53]; Defendant Keefe Commissary Network, L.L.C.'s ("KCN's") Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Doc. No. 59]; and Defendants First California Bank ("FCB") and Outpay Systems, L.L.C. ("Outpay's") Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Doc. No. 64].) For the reasons set forth herein, Plaintiffs' judgment on the pleadings motion is denied and their class certification motion is denied as moot. Defendants' motions are granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Defendant Ramsey County charges a $25 booking fee to all individuals booked for confinement in its detention facilities. (Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 25-27 [Doc. No. 14]; Ramsey Cnty. Sheriff's Office Inmate Booking Fee Policy at 1, Ex. 2 to Lindberg Aff. [Doc. No. 73-2].) The booking fee is imposed pursuant to Minnesota law and is assessed to offset the costs associated with booking inmates. (Ramsey Cnty. Sheriff's Office Inmate Booking Fee Policy at 1, Ex. 2 to Lindberg Aff. [Doc. No. 73-2].) Under Minnesota law:

A county board may require that each person who is booked for confinement... pay a fee to the sheriff's department of the county in which the jail is located to cover costs incurred by the county in the booking of that person. The 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.

Minn. Stat. § 641.12, subd. 1. If the individual being booked has no funds at the time of booking, the sheriff must notify the district court in the county where the charges related to the booking are pending, and request the assessment of the fee. (Id.)

Pursuant to the statute, detainees are entitled to a refund of the booking fee if they are not charged, are acquitted, or the charges against them are dismissed. (Id.) Ramsey County provides all inmates released from custody with a "Booking Fee Refund Form, " and, consistent with Minn. Stat. § 641.13, subd. 1, the county's policy is to issue refunds of booking fees under the three circumstances noted above. (Ramsey Cnty. Sheriff's Office Inmate Booking Fee Policy at 2, Ex. 2 to Lindberg Aff. [Doc. No. 73-2].)

Ramsey County's Inmate Handbook details the grievance procedure by which detainees may challenge unfair treatment. (Ramsey Cnty. Inmate Handbook at 8, Ex. 4 to Lindberg Aff. [Doc. No. 73-4].) The procedure contemplates both informal verbal grievances and formal written grievances:

GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE
If you think that you have been treated unfairly you may tell your Housing Officer, another staff member, or request to speak to a Sergeant. If you are unable to resolve the issue verbally, you may file a formal grievance.
All formal grievances must be in writing and submitted on a Grievance Form. All grievances are investigated and the results given to you. If you are not satisfied with the decision, you may appeal it to a Lieutenant. ICE Boarders may also file complaints with the Department of Homeland Security.

(Id.)

Also under Ramsey County's policies and procedures, cash inventoried from detainees at the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center is not returned in the form of cash upon the detainees' release. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 25 [Doc. No. 14]; Ramsey Cnty. Inmate Handbook at 15, Ex. 4 to Lindberg Aff. [Doc. No. 73-4].) Instead, detainees receive a check or debit card upon release. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 26 [Doc. No. 14].)

Detainees who receive a debit card are provided with a Cardholder Agreement explaining the fees associated with the card. (Fee Information, Ex. A to Second Am. Compl. [Doc. No. 14 at 30-33]; Cardholder Agreement, Ex. A to KCN's Answer to Second Am. Compl. [Doc. No. 34-1 at 2-3].) The Cardholder Agreement provides the following information regarding fees:

Fees. We will provide you written notice of a change in fees at least thirty (30) days prior to the effective date of such change. If [w]e are unable to contact you for any reason, [w]e will post the changes to the fees on the Card website at www.accessfreedomcard.com. You will be deemed to have proper notice thirty days (30) after the amendments are posted.

Card Usage Fees Charge Card Activation Fee FREE Weekly Maintenance Fee $1.50* Support Calls Fee FREE PIN Change Fee FREE Domestic ATM Fees** $2.75 International ATM Fees** $3.75 ATM Account Inquiry Fee $1.50 POS Debit Fee (PIN and Signature) FREE ATM Decline for NSF Fee $2.75 ATM Decline International Fee $3.75 Card to Bank Transfer (ACH) Fee $3.00 Account Closure Fee $25.00 * After one and one half (1.5) days/36 hours of issuance the card starts incurring weekly maintenance fees to cover the cost of the FDIC insured account. ** ATM Service providers may charge additional fees for ATM transactions.

(Cardholder Agreement, Ex. A to KCN's Answer to Second Am. Compl. [Doc. No. 34-1 at 2-3].)

Ramsey County's issuance of debit cards began in the fall of 2011 when the county - which contracts with various suppliers of goods and services for its Adult Detention Center - entered into an agreement with KCN to provide prepaid debit cards to inmates released from the Adult Detention Center. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 9 [Doc. No. 14]; Agreement, Ex. A to Second Am. Compl. [Doc. No. 14 at 25-27].) Pursuant to the terms of the agreement between Ramsey County and KCN, FCB issued the debit cards and Outpay processed any debit card transactions. (Agreement, Ex. A to Second Am. Compl. [Doc. No. 14 at 25-27]; Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 32-33 [Doc. No. 14].)

On May 22, 2013, Plaintiff Erik Mickelson ("Mickelson") was arrested in St. Paul for violating a noise ordinance. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 11 [Doc. No. 17].) Mickelson was booked into the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center. (Id. at ¶ 12.) At the time Mickelson was booked, his inventoried personal property included $95 in cash. (Id. at ¶ 13.) Upon Mickelson's release later the same day, Ramsey County issued him a debit card containing $70 - the value of his cash minus the $25 booking fee. (Id. at ¶ 29.)

On August 30, 2013, Plaintiff Corey Statham ("Statham") was arrested for disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process. (Id. at ¶ 18.) Statham was booked into the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center, where he remained for 48 hours. (Id. at ¶ 19.) At the time Statham was booked, his inventoried personal property included $46 in cash. (Id. at ¶ 20.) Upon his release, Ramsey County issued Statham a debit card containing $21 - the value of his cash minus the $25 booking fee. (Id. at ¶ 30.)

Plaintiffs assert the following claims against Ramsey County, KCN, FCB, and Outpay: (1) a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that Defendants violated Plaintiffs' civil rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments (id. at ¶¶ 105-07); (2) a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) that Defendants conspired to violate Plaintiffs' civil rights (id. ¶¶ 108-111); (3) a claim for conversion (id. ¶¶ 112-16); (4) a claim for civil theft in violation of Minn. Stat. § 604.14 (id. at ¶¶ 117-20); and (5) a claim of unjust enrichment (id. ¶¶ 121-24).

II. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides that a motion for judgment on the pleadings is appropriate after the pleadings are closed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). A motion for judgment on the pleadings will be granted "only where the moving party has clearly established that no material issue of fact remains and the moving party is entitled to ...


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