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Hughes v. City of Cedar Rapids

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

November 2, 2016

Gary Hughes; Arash Yarpezeshkan; David Mazgaj Plaintiffs-Appellants
City of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Gatso USA, Inc. Defendants-Appellees Edward G. Robinson Plaintiff James Louis Sparks; Jerry Northrup Plaintiffs-Appellants Daniel Ray French Plaintiff Jeffrey V. Stimpson; Roger L. Lee; Krisanne M. Duhaime; Gerald R. Duhaime; Susan M. Dumbaugh Plaintiffs-Appellants

          Submitted: September 20, 2016

         Appeal from United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa - Cedar Rapids

          Before LOKEN, BEAM, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.

          BENTON, Circuit Judge

         A group of drivers sued the City of Cedar Rapids and Gatso USA, Inc., arguing that the Automatic Traffic Enforcement (ATE) system violates federal and state law. The district court dismissed the drivers' claims. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, this court affirms in part, reverses in part, and remands.


         In 2011, the City, by ordinance, authorized an ATE system. Cedar Rapids, Iowa Mun. Code § 61.138. The City contracted with Gatso to install and operate the system. When a vehicle speeds or runs a red light, an ATE camera takes an image. Gatso then mails a Notice of Violation to the vehicle owner. The drivers sued in Iowa state court, arguing that the ATE system violates their right to procedural due process, their fundamental right to travel, Iowa Code § 602.6101, and causes unjust enrichment for the City and Gatso. They removed the case to federal court and moved to dismiss.

         The district court dismissed for lack of Article III standing: Gary Hughes and David L. Mazgaj's claims, and the procedural-due-process claims of Edward G. Robinson, James L. Sparks, Jeffrey L. Northrup, Arash C. Yarpezeshkan, Daniel R. French, and Jeffrey V. Stimpson. For the drivers with standing, the district court dismissed for failure to state a claim. On appeal, the drivers contend that the district court erred by dismissing their complaint and not remanding to state court those claims dismissed for lack of standing.


         According to the City and Gatso, drivers Hughes, Mazgaj, and Roger L. Lee lack Article III standing for their claims. This court reviews standing determinations de novo. Plymouth Cty., Iowa v. Merscorp, Inc., 774 F.3d 1155, 1158-59 (8th Cir. 2014).

         Article III of the Constitution limits the jurisdiction of federal courts to cases and controversies. U.S. Const. art. III, § 2. To establish Article III standing, a plaintiff must show 1) an injury in fact, 2) a sufficient causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of, and 3) a likelihood that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992). The party invoking federal jurisdiction has the burden to establish these elements. Id.


         The City and Gatso object to Hughes's Article III standing, claiming he has no injury in fact. Hughes asserts a "fear that, as a Vehicle Owner regularly using the roads in Cedar Rapids, [he] may be subject to . . . civil liability resulting from the operation of the City's fixed or mobile ATE system's cameras." He has not received a Notice of Violation. A person threatened with law enforcement may challenge the law "under circumstances that render the threatened enforcement sufficiently imminent." Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, 134 S.Ct. 2334, 2342 (2014). The person need not demonstrate it is "literally certain that the harms they identify will come about." Clapper v. Amnesty Int'l. USA, 133 S.Ct. 1138, 1150 n.5 (2013). Standing may be based on a "substantial risk" of harm that prompts plaintiffs to "reasonably incur costs to mitigate or avoid that harm." Id.

         Hughes does not allege that he has incurred any costs to mitigate or avoid the threat of ATE enforcement, or that the threat of an ATE citation is sufficiently imminent. Hughes does not have standing.


         The City and Gatso claim Mazgaj has no injury in fact. His wife received the Notice of Violation, but Mazgaj was driving the car (which she owned). He asserts third-party standing on behalf of his wife. "[T]here may be circumstances where it is necessary to grant a third-party standing to assert the rights of another." Kowalski v. Tesmer, 543 U.S. 125, 129-30 (2004). For example, a plaintiff may show "a close relationship with the person who possesses the right" and "a hindrance to the possessor's ability to protect [her] own interests." Id. at 130.

         Mazgaj fails to show a hindrance to his wife's ability to protect her own interests. He does not have third-party standing. Mazgaj believes he need not assert third-party standing. But then his claim is just a "generally available grievance . . . seeking relief that no more directly and tangibly benefits him than it does the public at large." Hollingsworth v. Perry, 133 S.Ct. 2652, 2662 (2013). Mazgaj does not state an Article III case or controversy.


         According to the City and Gatso, Lee's claims are not ripe for adjudication. "[T]he ripeness inquiry requires the examination of both 'the fitness of the issues for judicial decision and the hardship to the parties of withholding court consideration.'" Pub. Water Supply Dist. No. 10 v. City of Peculiar, 345 F.3d 570, 572-73 (8th Cir. 2003), quoting Abbott Labs v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 136, 148 (1967). Fitness depends on whether a case needs further factual development. Id. Hardship requires that the plaintiff "has sustained or is immediately in danger of sustaining some direct injury as the result of the challenged statute or official conduct." Id. The plaintiff "must necessarily satisfy both prongs to at least a minimal degree." Neb. Pub. Power Dist. v. MidAmerican Energy Co., 234 F.3d 1032, 1039 (8th Cir. 2000).

         Lee satisfies both prongs. He was found guilty of violating the ordinance; no further factual development is necessary. Lee has the hardship of citation and ...

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