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ASSOC. OF SURROGATES v. STATE OF N.Y.

September 3, 1991

ASSOCIATION OF SURROGATES AND SUPREME COURT REPORTERS WITHIN THE CITY OF NEW YORK, MARY O'LEARY, PRESIDENT; CITYWIDE ASSOCIATION OF LAW ASSISTANTS, BARBARA BROWN, PRESIDENT; COURT ATTORNEYS ASSOCIATION OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, ROBERT A. MULHALL, PRESIDENT; COURT OFFICERS BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION OF NASSAU CO., JEFFREY POLLACK, PRESIDENT; DISTRICT COUNCIL 37, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE, COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES & LOCAL 1070, PAUL SHELKIN, PRESIDENT; LOCAL 704, SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION, JOHN WALSH, PRESIDENT; NEW YORK STATE SUPREME COURT OFFICERS ASSOCIATION, ILA, LOCAL 2013, AFL-CIO JOHN MCKILLOP, PRESIDENT; NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION, MARTIN SHARP, PRESIDENT; SUFFOLK CO. COURT EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION, INC., THOMAS F. MCGUINNESS, PRESIDENT; THE COMMUNICATION WORKERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO, LOCAL 1180, ARTHUR CHELIOTES, PRESIDENT; CIVIL SERVICE FORUM, LOCAL 300, SEIU, SALVATORE WEST PAGE 1413 CANGIARELLA, PRESIDENT; JANET FOSTER, SUSAN GLASBRENNER, MICHAEL SULLIVAN, DAVID RICHMAN, GREG SNIGOR, JAMES DI-NAPOLI, WILLIAM ROSARIO, ABEL PELTRO, GEORGE F. BERGHORN, LISA ROSENZWEIG AND MICHAEL SMITH, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
STATE OF NEW YORK; EDWARD V. REGAN, AS COMPTROLLER OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK; ROBERT ABRAMS, AS ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK; MATTHEW T. CROSSON, AS CHIEF ADMINISTRATOR OF THE UNIFIED COURT SYSTEM AND THE STATE OF NEW YORK UNIFIED COURT SYSTEM, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert P. Patterson, Jr., District Judge.

OPINION

Defendant Matthew T. Crosson moves for an order entering judgment in this case, reversed and remanded to this Court by the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit with instructions to:

  (1) enter a declaratory judgment declaring that
  New York's lag-payroll law violates the contract
  clause of the United States Constitution; (2)
  enjoin the continuing effects and application of
  the lag-payroll law; and (3) enter an appropriate
  judgment for the plaintiffs which shall include
  restitution of the lagged wages for all affected
  employees. Whether or not interest shall be
  awarded on the restored wages will lie in the
  equitable discretion of the district court.

Association of Surrogates v. State of New York, 940 F.2d 766, 775 (2d Cir. 1991). Defendant Crosson's proposed order would direct that the defendant State Comptroller pay the lagged moneys out of funds appropriated to the Judiciary in its 1990-1991 budget and that will lapse and become part of the State's General Funds on September 15, 1991. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant Crosson's motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

Section 375 of Chapter 190 of the Laws of New York of 1990, signed into law on May 25, 1990, established a lag payroll for nonjudicial employees of the Unified Court System hired on or after April 7, 1983. Pursuant to that law, one day's pay was withheld from each paycheck for ten two-week periods beginning on November 7, 1990, until a total of two weeks' pay had been withheld, on March 13, 1991.

Plaintiffs had commenced a declaratory judgment action in October 1990, seeking to declare the lag payroll law unconstitutional and to enjoin defendants to pay plaintiffs pursuant to their collective bargaining agreements. By order and decision dated October 26, 1990, this Court denied plaintiffs' motions for a preliminary injunction and for summary judgment and granted defendants' cross-motion for summary judgment. 749 F. Supp. 97 (S.D.N.Y. 1990).

On plaintiffs' appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, on July 31, 1991, reversed and remanded, declaring the lag payroll statute unconstitutional and directing restitution of the lagged wages. Association of Surrogates, 940 F.2d at 775.

On August 21, 1991, the Second Circuit denied state defendants' petition for rehearing and issued the mandate. As of the date of this opinion, a suggestion for rehearing en banc filed by defendants has not been acted on.

By order to show cause signed on August 23, 1991, Defendant Crosson moved this Court for immediate issuance of an order granting restitution of the lagged wages totalling 9.2 million dollars, to be paid out of 15.8 million dollars remaining of the funds appropriated to the Judiciary for the 1990-1991 fiscal year and which are due to lapse on September 15, 1991, at which time such funds will become part of the State's General Fund under section 40(3) of the State Finance Law.

Argument was heard on August 26, 1991, at which defendants Regan, Abrams, and State of New York (hereinafter State Defendants) objected to a judgment directing restitution from the funds remaining from appropriations to the Judiciary for the fiscal year 1990-1991 and to the Court's awarding plaintiffs interest on the lagged payroll funds. Defendant Crosson also opposed an interest award to plaintiffs. Plaintiffs requested an award of interest and supported payment from the funds remaining of the 1990-1991 appropriation to the Judiciary. All parties filed additional papers in support of their respective positions on August 28, 1991. Because it was necessary that action be taken on August 29, 1991 to ensure that payments be computed and made by September 15, 1991, the Court entered judgment on August 29, 1991 with this opinion to follow.

DISCUSSION

1.  Court's Power to Order Payment from a Specific
    Appropriation

It is within the power of this Court to fashion an equitable remedy for the violation of plaintiff's constitutional rights under the invalidated lag payroll statute. District courts have broad discretion in granting equitable remedies for constitutional violations. See Todaro v. Ward, 565 F.2d 48, 54 n. 7 (2d Cir. 1977) ("Appellate tribunals have accorded district courts broad discretion to frame equitable remedies so long as the relief granted is commensurate with the scope of the constitutional infraction."). This discretion encompasses the power to fashion, if necessary, remedies which may encroach on administrative responsibilities normally left in the hands of the state. Cf., e.g., Milliken v. Bradley, 433 U.S. 267, 282, 97 S.Ct. 2749, 2758, 53 L.Ed.2d 745 (1977) (specific educational remedies normally left to discretion of elected school board deemed necessary to make whole victims of pervasive ...


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