United States District Court, D. Minnesota
M. Speeter, Speeter & Johnson, for Sabri Properties, LLC
C. S. McLaren, Office of the Minneapolis City Attorney, for
the City of Minneapolis
BOWBEER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Sabri Properties,
LLC’s Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint [Doc.
No. 32]. The motion is denied as set forth below.
Sabri Properties, LLC (“Sabri”) is a limited
liability company organized under the laws of Minnesota.
(Compl. ¶ 3 [Doc. No. 1].) Sabri brought suit against
the Defendant City of Minneapolis (“the City”)
for allegedly violating its right to due process under the
Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S Constitution, violating its
right to due process under the Minnesota Constitution and
Minnesota state law, and depriving it of the right to a jury
trial as guaranteed by the Minnesota Constitution. (Compl.
March 6, 2019, this Court issued a Report and Recommendation
recommending that all claims be dismissed. (R. & R. at 18
[Doc. No. 29].) The District Court adopted the Report and
Recommendation on April 10, 2019, and dismissed all claims
with prejudice. (Order at 2 [Doc. No. 44].) The District
Court did not enter judgment, however, because Sabri filed
the motion to amend the complaint in the meantime.
the motion to amend, Sabri asks for leave to bring a claim
that the City violated the Excessive Fines Clause of the
Eighth Amendment. Sabri contends that an administrative fine
levied against it in the amount of $3,200 and the
City’s administrative “fine schedule are
unreasonable in light of the lack of severity of the offenses
for which they are imposed or authorized.” (Proposed
Am. Compl. ¶ 13 [Doc. No. 32-1].) Sabri relies on
Timbs v. Indiana, 139 S. Ct. 682, 686–87
(2019), as providing the legal basis for its new claim.
(Id. ¶ 14.) The City opposes the motion on the
basis of futility.
Rule 15(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
“a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing
party’s written consent or the court’s
leave,” and “[t]he court should freely give leave
when justice so requires.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2).
“[T]here is no absolute right to amend,” however,
and a court may deny leave to amend “based upon a
finding of undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, repeated
failure to cure deficiencies in previous amendments, undue
prejudice to the non-moving party, or futility.”
Baptist Health v. Smith, 477 F.3d 540, 544 (8th Cir.
2007) (citation omitted). When a party challenges a proposed
amendment on futility grounds, as the City does here, the
Court considers whether the amendment could withstand a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. See Cornelia I. Crowell GST
Trust v. Possis Med., Inc., 519 F.3d 778, 782 (8th Cir.
motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the Court
“must take the well-pleaded allegations of the
complaint as true, and construe the complaint, and all
reasonable inferences arising therefrom, most favorably to
the pleader.” Morton v. Becker, 793 F.2d 185,
187 (8th Cir. 1986). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible
“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.
Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment prohibits the
imposition of excessive fines by the government. U.S. Const.
amend. VIII. The Clause checks the government’s power
to impose a fine “as punishment for some
offense.” Austin v. United States, 509 U.S.
602, 609–10 (1993) (quotation omitted) (emphasis in
Austin). The applicability of the Excessive Fines
Clause does not depend whether the fine is civil or criminal
in nature, but “whether it is punishment.”
Id. at 610. Furthermore, the court need not exclude
the possibility that the fine serves remedial purposes to
find that it is subject to the Excessive Fines Clause. If a
civil sanction “cannot fairly be said solely to serve a
remedial purpose, but rather can only be explained as also
serving either retributive or deterrent purposes,” it
is punishment. Id. (quoting United States v.
Halper, 490 U.S. 435, 448 (1989)).
recently, the United States Supreme Court held in Timbs
v. Indiana, 139 S. Ct. 682 (2019), that the Excessive
Fines Clause was incorporated by the Due Process Clause of
the Fourteenth Amendment, and thus applicable to the States.
Id. at 686–87. Sabri argues that
Timbs “at least impliedly held the excessive
fines prohibition to be implicated under very similar
facts.” (Pl.’s Mem. Supp. Mot. Amend at 3 [Doc.
No. 33].) The Court respectfully disagrees with this
characterization of Timbs. Not only was
Timbs decided on very different facts, but its