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MENDOZA v. BLUM

March 7, 1983

GLORIA MENDOZA, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BARBARA B. BLUM, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DUFFY

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

 KEVIN THOMAS DUFFY, D.J.:

 Plaintiffs move herein for an award of attorneys' fees pursuant to the Civil Rights Attorneys' Fees Award Act of 1976, 42 U.S.C. § 1988, and the Equal Access to Justice Act ("EAJA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2412(b). For the reasons that follow, plaintiffs' motion is granted.

 I.

 PROCEDURAL HISTORY

 On November 14, 1974, plaintiffs, on behalf of all limited English-speaking Hispanic persons, instituted suit in this court alleging that defendants' failure to provide or require sufficient bilingual services in the administration of the City's public assistance programs violated their rights under the Constitution, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Social Security Act. In 1975, the City, State, and Federal defendants moved to dismiss the complaint. The City and State defendants contended that plaintiffs failed to state a claim under Title VI upon which relief could be granted. The Federal defendant asserted that plaintiffs should be required to exhaust administrative remedies before resorting to a judicial forum. *fn1" I denied these motions on January 7, 1976. See Mendoza v. Lavine, 412 F. Supp. 1105, 1110 (S.D.N.Y. 1976). I directed the administrative investigation to continue while I retained jurisdiction over the defendants and permitted plaintiffs to proceed with their pretrial preparation. Id. 1109.

 Subsequently, the Federal defendant, pursuing the administrative complaint, found the City and State to be in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for having failed to provide adequate bilingual services in federally funded public assistance programs. Negotiations ensued between the City, State, and Federal defendants in an effort to achieve voluntary compliance with Title VI. On June 30, 1980, federal government authorities notified the City defendant that the City's plan submitted to resolve the administrative complaint was acceptable. This plan provided for the institution of bilingual services to meet the needs of clients with limited English-speaking ability.

 The defendants thereafter moved to dismiss the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. I granted these motions on August 3, 1981, dismissing the complaint as to all defendants because no case or controversy existed. Mendoza v. Blum, 91 F.R.D. 91, 97 (S.D.N.Y. 1981). Defendants filed the judgment ten days later. This gave the plaintiffs until October 13, 1981, to file an appeal in this case. *fn2" I denied plaintiffs' subsequent motion to be relieved of the court's judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on March 31, 1982.

 II.

 DISCUSSION

 The EAJA, which became effective on October 1, 1981, provides in pertinent part:

 
Unless expressly prohibited by statute, a court may award reasonable fees and expenses of attorneys . . . to the prevailing party in any civil action brought by or against the United States . . . . The United States shall be liable for such fees . . . under the terms of any statute which specifically provides for such an award.

 28 U.S.C. § 2412(b) (Supp. 1982). Section 1988 provides the statutory basis for an award of reasonable attorneys' fees to a prevailing party seeking to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 28 ...


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