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SWIFT v. TOIA

May 1, 1978

JOANNE SWIFT, Individually and on behalf of her minor daughter MICHELLE SWIFT, and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
PHILIP L. TOIA, Individually and as Commissioner of the New York State Department of Social Services and CHARLES BATES, Individually and as Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Social Services, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WERKER

MEMORANDUM DECISION

 HENRY F. WERKER, D.J.

 Plaintiff Swift instituted suit on her own behalf and on behalf of her daughter against defendants Toia, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Social Services and Bates, Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Social Services, in their official and individual capacities. She seeks injunctive and declaratory relief and monetary damages in this action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 *fn1" and directly under the fourteenth amendment. Jurisdiction is predicated upon 28 U.S.C. §§ 1343(3) and 1331.

 The complaint alleges a violation of constitutional rights through defendants' policy of prorating public assistance grants when an individual who has no legal obligation to support a family receiving Aid to Families With Dependent Children ("AFDC"), and who receives non-welfare income sufficient to meet his or her own needs, resides with an AFDC family composed of a parent or caretaker relative and at least one needy child. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that this policy (1) is violative of the Supremacy Clause of Article VI of the United States Constitution and is therefore unconstitutional; (2) violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the fourteenth amendment; and (3) violates plaintiff's rights of privacy and freedom of association as guaranteed by the first, ninth and fourteenth amendments.

 There are five motions currently pending which will be considered in this opinion.

 FACTS

 Mrs. Swift resides in Larchmont, New York with her minor children Michelle, age four and William Rooney, age eleven. Plaintiff and her daughter receive public assistance in the form of AFDC through the Westchester County Department of Social Services. This AFDC grant is plaintiff's sole source of income. William receives $150 per month from his father (plaintiff's former husband) pursuant to a support order and is therefore ineligible for public assistance.

 From May, 1975 until November, 1975, plaintiff received an AFDC grant of $398 monthly for a household of three. This figure included a $200 basic needs allowance for three people plus $198 for plaintiff's actual rent *fn2" during that period of time. After plaintiff informed the Westchester County Department of Social Services that she was in receipt of William's monthly support payments her grant was recomputed to include a $200 basic needs allowance for a three person household plus a $234 rent allowance, which was then her actual rent, for a total of $434. William's $150 monthly support payment was then deducted leaving a grant of $284. Plaintiff contested the grant reduction and an administrative fair hearing was conducted. Subsequently the grant was again recomputed. Instead of deducting the full $150 monthly child support payment from the grant, only $144.66 of that amount per month was deducted. This $144.66 represented the actual amount of William's per capita monthly needs. The final grant therefore was $289.34, representing two-thirds of the basic shelter and needs allowance for a three person household.

 Plaintiff contends that William should not be included in her household and that the proper amount of her AFDC grant should be $362, consisting of a $150 basic needs allowance for two people plus a $212 maximum rent allowance for two rather than two-thirds of the grant for a three person household. She argues that defendants' policy of prorating grants without proving any actual income contribution by William to her and Michelle violates the Social Security Act and federal implementing regulations insofar as it incorporates a blanket assumption that a non-legally responsible individual is contributing to the AFDC household, or that his presence creates a reduced need due to economies of scale without an inquiry into the facts of the particular case.

 THE MOTION TO AMEND

 Plaintiff has moved to amend the complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a) to conform class action allegations to defendants' policy as set forth in defendants' affidavit in opposition to plaintiff's class certification motion. Defendants oppose the amendment and contend that they are entitled to judgment on the pleadings under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) under either the original or amended complaint. However, since I have concluded for the reasons set forth below that defendants are not entitled to judgment on the pleadings, and that defendants will not be prejudiced by such an amendment, this is a proper instance in which leave should be freely given. See Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182, 9 L. Ed. 2d 222, 83 S. Ct. 227 (1962); Gumer v. Shearson, Hammill & Co., 516 F.2d 283, 287 (2d Cir. 1974); 6 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1473 (1971). Accordingly, the motion for leave to file an amended complaint is granted.

 THE MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS

 Defendants have moved for judgment on the pleadings. The first ground asserted is lack of subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1343(3) and 1331.

 It is well settled that "municipal and state officials, sued in their official capacities, are 'persons' within the meaning of § 1983 when they are sued for injunctive or declaratory relief." Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York, 532 F.2d 259, 264 (2d Cir. 1976), cert. granted, 429 U.S. 1071, 97 S. Ct. 807, 50 L. Ed. 2d 789 (1977), rev'd on other grounds, 436 U.S. 658, 98 S. Ct. 2018, 56 L. Ed. 2d 611 (1977).

 To the extent plaintiff seeks money damages against Toia and Bates in their official capacities, however, she may not prevail. When a state official such as Toia is sued in his official capacity for money damages, the eleventh amendment bars such action since any judgment would necessarily be satisfied from state funds. See Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 663, 39 L. Ed. 2d 662, 94 S. Ct. 1347 (1974); Monell, 532 F.2d at 265. And, since a county is not a "person" for purposes of § 1983 actions, see City of Kenosha v. Bruno, 412 U.S. 507, 93 S. Ct. 222, 37 L. Ed. 2d 109 (1973); Moor v. County of Alameda, 411 U.S. 693, 36 L. Ed. 2d 596, 93 S. Ct. 1785 (1973); Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167, 5 L. Ed. 2d 492, 81 S. Ct. 473 (1961), this court lacks jurisdiction to award money damages against Bates in his official capacity since such award would also necessarily be satisfied from public funds. See Monell, 532 F.2d at 265-66.

 Plaintiff also asserts a claim for damages against both defendants in their individual capacities. Defendants argue a good faith defense, see Wood v. Strickland, 420 U.S. 308, 43 L. Ed. 2d 214, 95 S. Ct. 992 (1975); Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 40 L. Ed. 2d 90, 94 S. Ct. 1683 (1974), and on that basis contend that no liability for damages exists ...


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