and the likelihood that their presence would contribute to the Court's ability to resolve all of the issues raised in the instant case.
Presently before the Court is defendants' motion, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), 12(b)(6) and 12(c), to dismiss the amended complaint or for judgment on the pleadings.
Specifically, defendants argue that (1) plaintiffs lack standing; (2) principles of comity and federalism, as well as the Younger and Burford abstention doctrines, render the lawsuit an improper subject for consideration by a federal court; (3) the First, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Claims for Relief are barred by the Eleventh Amendment; and (4) the amended complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Because plaintiffs allege injury that is only speculative in nature, the Court finds that plaintiffs lack standing to bring the present action. In addition, because the relief sought by plaintiffs would require this Court's continuous supervision of and interference in Housing Court proceedings, this action is barred by the principles of comity and federalism.
Defendants argue that the individual landlord plaintiffs lack standing because they have failed to allege any actual or threatened injury as a result of defendants' conduct. In addition, defendants assert that plaintiff Rent Stabilization Association of New York City ("RSA") lacks organizational standing under the three-prong test established by the Supreme Court in Hunt v. Washington State Apple Advertising Comm'n, 432 U.S. 333, 97 S. Ct. 2434, 53 L. Ed. 2d 383 (1977).
In order for a federal court to assert jurisdiction over an action, the court must find that a justiciable "case or controversy" exists. See U.S. Const. art. III, § 2. The preeminent doctrine for determining whether a case or controversy exists is the principle of standing, which defines a litigant's ability to invoke the power of the federal court. Comer v. Cisneros, 37 F.3d 775, 787 (2d Cir. 1994). The burden to establish standing rests on the party asserting its existence. Hirsch v. Arthur Andersen & Co., 72 F.3d 1085, 1092 (2d Cir. 1995).
The Supreme Court has formulated the following three-prong test to determine whether a plaintiff has standing to bring a claim: (1) the plaintiff has suffered a personal injury or has demonstrated a threat of injury, i.e. an "injury in fact"; (2) the injury is traceable to the challenged action; and (3) the injury is likely to be redressed by the relief sought. Northeastern Fla. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Contractors v. Jacksonville, 508 U.S. 656, 663-64, 113 S. Ct. 2297, 124 L. Ed. 2d 586 (1983); Comer v. Cisneros, 37 F.3d 775 at 787. The injury must therefore be "sufficiently real and immediate" as opposed to merely "conjectural" or "hypothetical." Alliance of Am. Insurers v. Cuomo, 854 F.2d 591, 595-96 (2d Cir. 1988) (quoting O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 494-96, 38 L. Ed. 2d 674, 94 S. Ct. 669 (1974)). The standing requirement is designed to insure that the plaintiff has "'alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy' as to warrant his invocation of federal-court jurisdiction and to justify exercise of the court's remedial powers on his behalf." Bordell v. General Elec. Co., 922 F.2d 1057, 1060 (2d Cir. 1991) (quoting Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498-99, 45 L. Ed. 2d 343, 95 S. Ct. 2197 (1975); Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 204, 7 L. Ed. 2d 663, 82 S. Ct. 691 (1962)) (emphasis in original). A litigant cannot "assert speculative, conjectural or generalized grievances more appropriately resolved by a governmental body, other than the courts." New York State Nat'l Org. for Women v. Terry, 886 F.2d 1339, 1347 (2d Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 495 U.S. 947, 110 S. Ct. 2206, 109 L. Ed. 2d 532 (1990).
Because these guidelines are general in nature and cannot be applied mechanically, a court should "compare the allegations of the particular complaint to those made in prior standing cases" to determine whether standing exists in the case at hand. Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 751-52, 104 S. Ct. 3315, 82 L. Ed. 2d 556 (1984). Moreover, the fact that plaintiffs purport to represent a broader class "adds nothing to the question of standing, for even named plaintiffs who represent a class 'must allege and show that they personally have been injured, not that injury has been suffered by other, unidentified members of the class to which they belong . . . .'" Simon v. Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Org., 426 U.S. 26, 40 n.20, 96 S. Ct. 1917, 48 L. Ed. 2d 450 (1976) (quoting Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. at 502); see also Doe v. Blum, 729 F.2d 186, 190 n.4 (2d Cir. 1984) (satisfaction of standing's injury requirement must be determined with respect to named plaintiffs); Grimes v. Cavazos, 786 F. Supp. 1184, 1186-87 (S.D.N.Y. 1992) (same).
In evaluating whether the amended complaint comports with the requirements of standing, the Court is guided by several Supreme Court cases that addressed claims of systematic misconduct by local officials. In O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 490-91, 94 S. Ct. 669, 673-74, 38 L. Ed. 2d 674 (1974), a class of plaintiffs brought suit charging local magistrates and judges with enforcing criminal laws in a discriminatory manner against the class. Nonetheless, the complaint failed to allege any specific instances of wrongdoing involving any of the named judicial officer respondents on behalf of any of the plaintiffs. Id. at 492. The Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs did not have standing because "past exposure to illegal conduct does not in itself show a present case or controversy regarding injunctive relief . . . if unaccompanied by any continuing, present adverse effects." Id. at 495-96. As for the possibility of future injury, the Court found that there was not a "sufficiently real and immediate" danger of continuing to encounter unfair treatment "simply because [plaintiffs] anticipate violating lawful criminal statutes and being tried for their offenses . . . ." Id. at 496.
Similarly, in Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 366-67, 96 S. Ct. 598, 46 L. Ed. 2d 561 (1976), a plaintiff class of Philadelphia residents charged the city and its police officers with engaging in a campaign of illegal and unconstitutional conduct directed at minority citizens and city residents in general. The Supreme Court again found that the plaintiffs did not have standing because they "lacked the requisite 'personal stake in the outcome'" necessary to pursue their claims. Id. at 372-73 (quoting Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. at 204). The Court reasoned:
The individual respondents' claim to "real and immediate" injury rests . . . upon what one of a small, unnamed minority of policemen might do to them in the future because of that unknown policeman's perception of departmental disciplinary procedures. This hypothesis is even more attenuated than those allegations of future injury found insufficient in O'Shea to warrant invocation of federal jurisdiction.