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HURLEY v. VAN LARE

October 3, 1973

Rose HURLEY, Individually and on behalf of her minor dependent children, Doreen Hurley, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Barry VAN LARE, Individually and in his capacity as Acting Commissioner of the Department of Social Services of the State of New York, et al., Defendants


Bauman, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: BAUMAN

BAUMAN, District Judge.

Before the court is yet another action challenging the manner in which the State of New York allocates its welfare funds. Plaintiff and her three minor children received public assistance pursuant to the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. The action is brought on their behalf, and on behalf of all others similarly situated, to enjoin the enforcement of 18 N.Y.C.R.R. § 352.31(a)(3)(iv) *fn1" and 18 N.Y.C.R.R. § 352.30(c) and (d) *fn2" and to secure retroactive public assistance payments of which she claims to have been unlawfully deprived.

 The plaintiff has moved for class determination pursuant to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules. She also seeks summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56, and thereby, a permanent injunction against the enforcement of the attacked state regulations as well as retroactive welfare payments. Plaintiff argues that these regulations are violative of the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment and repugnant to the rights of privacy and freedom of association secured by the First, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments. She also contends that they are violative of the Supremacy Clause (Article VI) in that they conflict with the provisions of subchapter IV of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 601 et seq. and the regulations promulgated thereunder. The defendants in turn have moved to dismiss the action pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules on the grounds that this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In addition, Phyllis D'Alessio and Loretta Clark, both mothers receiving aid under the AFDC program, seek to intervene pursuant to Rule 24(b)(2). The defendants oppose their intervention.

 I.

 A brief exposition of Mrs. Hurley's situation may help illuminate the difficulty in which she and others in her purported class find themselves. *fn3"

 Mrs. Hurley has been living apart from her husband since 1967 and claims not to have seen or heard from him since that time. From November, 1970 through February, 1971 a male who contributed nothing toward her maintenance or that of her three children lived with her. Her rent during that period was $150 per month. Upon learning of the presence of a male lodger, the Westchester County Department of Social Services, without explanation as to how the figure was reached, deducted $35 per month for the four months from plaintiff's recurring grant.

 On November 12, 1970 plaintiff requested a State Fair Hearing which was held on March 22, 1971 in White Plains, New York. In a decision rendered September 20, 1971, Barry Van Lare, the Acting Commissioner of the Department of Social Services, upheld the grant reduction but ruled that the Westchester Department should have deducted $30 rather than $35 from her stipend. *fn4"

 Plaintiff claims that she still wishes to associate and reside with this male friend, but is afraid to do so because of the anticipated reduction in her public assistance grant.

 II.

 I shall first consider plaintiff's motion that this be designated a class action pursuant to Rule 23(a) *fn5" and Rule 23(b) (2) *fn6" of the Federal Rules. The proposed class would consist of "all residents of the State of New York who are or were receiving public assistance, who have had their grants reduced, terminated, suspended, or denied, or who are threatened with reduction, termination, suspension or denial, solely because of the enforcement of 18 N.Y.C.R.R. § 352.31(a)(3)(iv) and § 352.30(c) and (d)."

 It would appear that all of the requirements in the above cited rules have been met and that this may proceed as a class action. Plaintiff's efforts to demonstrate satisfaction of the numerosity requirement, Rule 23(a)(1), have been thwarted in part by the state's failure to compile any state-wide statistics on the number of recipients whose grants have been reduced because of the presence of lodgers. *fn7" However, the defendants did furnish statistics compiled by a research analyst in the State Department of Social Services indicating that as of November 1, 1972, there were 477 such cases in New York City. That figure alone would render the class so numerous that joinder would be impracticable, and it may reasonably be assumed that the total number in the state is far larger still.

 Plaintiff's claims are typical and there can be no dispute that the questions of law or fact are common to the class. It has been frequently noted in similar cases that the state's promulgation of an unconstitutional regulation and/or its failure to comply with regulations of the Department of Health, Education & Welfare affects all welfare recipients in the same manner. Serritella v. Engelman, 339 F. Supp. 738 (D.N.J.1972); Almenares v. Wyman, 334 F. Supp. 512 (S.D.N.Y.1971), affd., 453 F.2d 1075 (2nd Cir. 1971). For the purpose of determining the constitutionality of the challenged regulations, it does not matter that plaintiff and some members of the class have received Fair Hearings and others have not. The exhaustion of state administrative remedies is not a prerequisite to the maintenance of an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Sostre v. McGinnis, 442 F.2d 178 (2nd Cir. 1971); Carter v. Stanton, 405 U.S. 669, 92 S. Ct. 1232, 31 L. Ed. 2d 569 (1972); Damico v. California, 389 U.S. 416, 88 S. Ct. 526, 19 L. Ed. 2d 647 (1967). Accordingly, even where some of the named plaintiffs have exhausted their administrative remedies, the class may nevertheless include others who have not. Doe v. Lavine, 347 F. Supp. 357 (S.D.N.Y.1972); Broussard v. Schlumberger Well Services, 315 F. Supp. 506 (S.D.Tex.1970); Miller v. International Paper Co., 408 F.2d 283 (5th Cir. 1969). Hence such factual distinctions among members of the class have little bearing on the resolution of the central question presented by this action, namely, the constitutionality of the New York regulations.

 I have no doubt that the representative party will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class. The Legal Aid Society of Westchester County, which represents both Mrs. Hurley and Mrs. D'Alessio, one of the intervenors, has demonstrated a high standard of advocacy in both its written and oral presentations before this court, and I am certain that it will continue to do so.

 Finally, it is also clear that the instant action is precisely of the type contemplated by Rule 23(b)(2). The Advisory Committee Notes to Rule 23 with reference to ...


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