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Doe v. Blum

decided: February 24, 1984.

JANE DOE, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
BARBARA BLUM, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS COMMISSIONER OF THE NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



Appeal from a judgment of the District Court for the Southern District of New York (Vincent L. Broderick, Judge) dismissing a complaint against state and city welfare administrators for failure to state a legally sufficient claim for relief. Affirmed.

Timbers, Van Graafeiland and Newman, Circuit Judges.

Author: Newman

NEWMAN, Circuit Judge:

This appeal challenges the administration of the family planning services component of New York State and City programs for Aid to Families with Dependent Children ("AFDC") and Medicaid. Plaintiffs-appellants, four sexually active teenagers, appeal from the December 16, 1982, judgment of the District Court for the Southern District of New York (Vincent L. Broderick, Judge) dismissing their complaint against state and city welfare administrators for failure to state a legally sufficient claim for relief.*fn1 Plaintiffs' principal claim is that by giving a Medicaid identification card and sending family planning services information only to the head of a household, state and city defendants are violating various provisions of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 301 et seq. (1976 & Supp. V 1981), and the Constitution. For reasons that follow, we affirm the dismissal of the complaint.

I

Plaintiffs reside in households that receive AFDC benefits and are thereby eligible for Medicaid assistance. In their amended complaint, they allege that they (1) are sexually active and desire information about family planning and abortion services under the Medicaid and AFDC programs, (2) have never received that information, (3) have never been informed by the respective heads of their households of their entitlement to Medicaid reimbursed family planning services and supplies, and (4) are unable to use any of the family planning services and supplies because they do not have their own Medicaid identification card and cannot obtain the use of their parents' card.*fn2

Plaintiffs claim that the New York state and city practice of issuing Medicaid cards and distributing family planning services information to the head of a household, rather than directly to all sexually active members of a household, violates the requirements of the Social Security Act ("Act") that "in all appropriate cases" family planning services and information be "offered" and "provided" to sexually active AFDC and Medicaid recipients of child bearing age. 42 U.S.C. § 602(a)(15)(A) (Supp. V 1981) (AFDC); 42 U.S.C. §§ 1396a(a), 1396b(a)(5), and 1396d(a)(4)(C) (1976 & Supp. V 1981) (Medicaid). Plaintiffs also claim that mailing information to heads of households but not all household members violates the Equal Protection Clause and that the failure to give them their own Medicaid identification card provides the head of the household with a veto over their sex-related health care decisions, creating, in effect, a parental notice and consent requirement that violates the First, Fourth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.

For relief against the state and city defendants, plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment that defendants' administration of their family planning services program violates the Act and the Constitution and a mandatory injunction requiring defendants to provide each eligible individual with her own Medicaid identification card and an individual copy of written information concerning family planning services.

Plaintiffs also contend that the federal defendant has failed to compel New York to administer its programs in compliance with federal law. They seek a mandatory injunction and a declaratory judgment that would require the federal defendant to change her interpretation of the Act, to demand New York's compliance with that Act, and to reduce New York's federal AFDC funds by one per cent unless it complies with the Act and the relevant regulations.

II

We turn first to the state and city defendants' challenge to plaintiffs' standing to assert the claims raised. The District Court adverted to "a very serious question as to the standing of the plaintiffs," but proceeded to the merits of the claims because "to the extent that the complaint sets forth that the plaintiffs receive no notice of the availability of family planning services," the lack of notice "itself [is] an allegation of injury" that gives them standing. Defendants challenge plaintiffs' standing on the grounds that no plaintiff alleges that she applied for, and was denied, family planning services.

In testing plaintiffs' standing, we must consider (1) whether they allege that they have suffered an "injury in fact" and (2) "whether the interest sought to be protected by the complainant[s] is arguably within the zone of interests to be protected or regulated by the statute or constitutional guarantee in question." Association of Data Processing Service Organizations, Inc. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 152-53, 25 L. Ed. 2d 184, 90 S. Ct. 827 (1970); see Barlow v. Collins, 397 U.S. 159, 165-65, 25 L. Ed. 2d 192, 90 S. Ct. 832 (1970). While injury in fact is essential to an Article III case or controversy, Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498-99, 45 L. Ed. 2d 343, 95 S. Ct. 2197 (1975), the zone of interest requirement reflects prudential considerations. Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 474-75, 70 L. Ed. 2d 700, 102 S. Ct. 752 (1962).*fn3 We have no doubt that the interests plaintiffs seek to protect are within the "zone of interests" intended to be furthered by the statutory scheme. Plaintiffs allege that they are sexually active eligible recipients who desire access to family planning services. The relevant statutory provisions were enacted to reduce the incidence of unwanted pregnancy and venereal disease among indigent sexually active teenagers and adults. See, e.g., H.R. Rep. No. 544, 90th Cong., 1st Sess. 4 (1967), reprinted in 1967 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News 2834, 2835.

The doubtful aspect of plaintiffs' standing is whether they have established injury in fact as to both the alleged failure to offer family planning services and the alleged failure to provide such services. Plaintiffs must show a distinct and palpable injury to themselves. Warth v. Seldin, supra, 422 U.S. at 499; Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 128, 35 L. Ed. 2d 147, 93 S. Ct. 705 (1973); Linda R.S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614, 617, 35 L. Ed. 2d 536, 93 S. Ct. 1146 (1973). Plaintiffs have alleged a sufficient injury with respect to their claim that New York fails to notify them of the availability of family planning services, a failure they contend violates the statutory requirement of an "offer" and denies them equal protection. The lack of notice is the injury, as the District Court recognized, and plaintiffs have standing to complain of that injury whether or not they have been denied services.

Plaintiffs lack standing, however, for their remaining claims. None of the plaintiffs alleges that she requested and was denied family planning services for want of a Medicaid identification card. Consequently, none has standing to assert either the statutory claim that New York fails adequately to provide those services or the constitutional claim that lack of an individual Medicaid identification card permits the head of a household to preclude household members from obtaining such services and thereby to intrude upon their sex-related health care decisions. Cf. Warth v. Seldin, supra (potential residents of community lack standing to challenge alleged exclusionary zoning practices). Even after an ...


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