United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Bradford W. Colbert, LEGAL ASSISTANCE TO MINNESOTA PRISONERS,
MITCHELL HAMLINE SCHOOL OF LAW, for plaintiff.
Allen Wolf and Jason M. Hiveley, IVERSON REUVERS CONDON, 9321
Ensign Avenue South, Bloomington, for defendant.
R. TUNHEIM CHIEF JUDGE
Erik Christianson brought this action against Martin County
Sheriff Jeffrey Markquart for assessing pay-for-stay costs
against Christianson during his stay at the Martin County
Jail. In total, Christianson accrued $7, 625 in
pay-for-stay costs. He subsequently sent three letters to
Markquart stating that he does not have the ability to pay
the costs and requesting that the jail waive payment of the
costs pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 641.12, subd. 3(b).
Christianson argued that Markquart violated Minn. Stat.
§ 641.12, subd. 3(b), and the Due Process Clauses of the
United States and Minnesota Constitutions by failing to
assess whether Christianson qualifies for a waiver of payment
of the pay-for-stay costs.
moved for summary judgment. The Court denied Markquart's
motion and, instead, entered judgment for Christianson.
Christianson v. Markquart, No. 16-1034, 2018 WL
461134, at *5 (D. Minn. Jan. 17, 2018). Markquart has filed a
request for permission to file a motion to reconsider.
(Letter from Jason M. Hiveley (“Letter”), Feb. 7,
2017, Docket No. 52.) The Court will deny this request.
Markquart argues that the only dispositive issue in this case
is “[w]hether § 641.12 required a process for
granting a pre-assessment waiver before
levying costs” and the Court therefore impermissibly
reached the question whether the statute requires a process
for assessing whether Christianson was entitled to a
post-assessment waiver without notice to
Markquart. (Id. at 2.) Markquart's
characterization of the statutory issue in this case is
incorrect. The Complaint alleges that “Minn. Stat.
§ 641.1 requires Defendant to make a determination of
Plaintiff's ability to pay or the undue hardship payment
would place on the Plaintiff.” (Compl. ¶ 27, Apr.
20, 2016, Docket No. 1.) The Complaint continues, “As
Defendant failed to make any determination
regarding Plaintiff's ability, or lack thereof, to pay,
any fees charged and collected on are a violation of
Plaintiff's rights under the statute.”
(Id. ¶ 30 (emphasis added).) As framed by the
Complaint, Christianson did not restrict the statutory issue
to pre-assessment waivers. Christianson
clearly alleged that Markquart failed to make “any
determination” - pre-assessment or post-assessment.
Thus, Markquart was on notice that the claim was at issue.
Markquart argues that “[a] jury could find the letters
were improper accusations not entitled to be treated as
waiver requests.” (Letter at 2.) But no reasonable jury
could interpret the letters as anything but waiver requests.
The first letter states, “I ask that your office
revisit and waive the pay for stay charges.” (Aff. of
Bradford Colbert (“Colbert Aff.”) ¶ 6, Ex. 1
at 2, Aug. 21, 2017, Docket No. 36.) The second letter also
states, “I ask that your office revisit and waive the
pay for stay charges.” (Id., Ex. 2 at 4.) The
third letter states, “I am hoping that you will
reconsider charging Mr. Christianson and return any money you
have already collected from him.” (Id., Ex. 3
at 6.) What are these letters if not waiver requests? There
is no material issue of fact that Christianson requested a
argues that a jury could have found that these letters
“were meant only to coerce Defendant into agreeing with
Plaintiff's demands.” (Letter at 2.) Markquart
alleges that the letters were coercive because
Christianson's counsel “misrepresented” the
law by asserting that “[b]oth Minn. Stat. § 641.12
and the Constitution require such a determination before any
pay for stay charges can be imposed.” (Colbert Aff.
¶ 6, Ex. 1 at 2.) This argument is absurd.
only thing Christianson tried to “coerce”
Markquart into doing is complying with his legal obligations.
Markquart is correct that the letters “accused”
him of violating Minn. Stat. § 641.12; he violated the
statute as a matter of law. The Court concluded that the
statute requires a waiver determination “at
some point, ” but is ambiguous with respect to
“when” it must be made.
Christianson, 2018 WL 461134, at *4-5 (emphasis in
original). Markquart's counsel refused to answer whether
Martin County had any procedures to comply
with Minn. Stat. § 641.12 and instead continually
asserted that no such procedures were required under the
statute. Id. at *5. Markquart was incorrect as a
matter of law and the letters reasonably informed him of this
letters do not contain a misrepresentation of the law. The
Court did not need to construe the statute to determine
whether the statute requires a pre-assessment or
post-assessment determination because there was no
waiver determination made whatsoever in this case.
Moreover, as an act of constitutional avoidance, the Court
did not decide whether the Due Process Clause requires a
pre-assessment determination.Christianson's statements with
respect to the statutory or constitutional requirements could
very well be correct. At the very least, these statements are
reasonable interpretations of undecided law, which were used
to support Christianson's request for consideration for a
waiver. And, even if the Court were to agree that these
reasonable representations of law were somehow
“coercive, ” Christianson still requested a
waiver and Markquart did not consider whether Christianson
was entitled to a waiver as required by Minn. Stat. §
had notice that summary judgment against him was inevitable.
The numerous letters requested that Markquart determine
whether Christianson was entitled to a waiver and provided
him with a citation to the relevant statute. The Complaint
alleged that Markquart failed to make any
determination. (Compl. ¶ 30.) In his memorandum
opposing summary judgment, Christianson suggested that the
Court could grant summary judgment against Markquart.
(Pls.' Mem. Opp. Mot. Summ. J., at 3, Aug. 21, 2017,
Docket No. 35.) Nevertheless, Markquart never addressed in
his reply brief or at oral argument why the Court should not
grant summary judgment against him. Markquart had sufficient
advance notice and adequate opportunity to demonstrate why
summary judgment should not be granted. See Madewell v.
Downs, 68 F.3d 1030, 1048-49 (8th Cir. 1995).
Court will deny Markquart's request for permission to
file a motion for reconsideration.
on the foregoing, and all files, records, and proceedings
herein, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant
Jeffrey Markquart's request for permission to file a