The opinion of the court was delivered by: Motley, District Judge.
Plaintiffs, Redouane A. Jaouad ("Jaouad") and Jose A. Vazquez
("Vazquez"), brought a class action suit against defendants, the City of
New York, the New York City Department of Transportation ("DOT"), the New
York City Department of Finance ("DOF"), and the New York City Parking
Violations Bureau ("PVB") (collectively: "the City"), alleging that
defendants violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by enforcing statutorily
defective parking tickets ("Tickets") against plaintiffs. Before the
court is defendant's Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the amended
complaint. For the reasons discussed below, defendants' motion to dismiss
The statutory authority governing this dispute is the New York State
Vehicle and Traffic Law ("VTL"), § 238(2), which requires certain
information to be on the face of all parking tickets. Specifically, VTL
§ 238(2) requires the following:
A notice of violation shall be served upon the operator of a
motor vehicle . . . and his name, together with the plate
designation and the plate type . . . the make or model, and
body type of said vehicle; a description of the charged
violation . . . information as to the days and hours the
applicable rule or provision of this chapter is in effect
. . . and the date, time, and particular place of occurrence
of the charged violation, shall be inserted therein.
Prior to 1995, ALJs dismissed Tickets containing statutory defects sua
sponte. However, the VTL was amended in 1995 to include Section
238(2-a)(b), which provides that "if any information which is required to
be inserted on a notice of violation is omitted . . ., misdescribed, or
illegible, then the violation shall be dismissed upon application of the
person charged with the violation." (emphasis added).
On September 12, 1995, Acting Chief ALJ Rabinowitz wrote a memorandum
to all the PVB ALJs regarding the new amendment to VTL § 238. The
ALJs were instructed not to sua sponte dismiss all Tickets but instead to
assess whether the statutory defect impinged on due process, such as "in
a manner where a defense concerns a question of whether the correct party
has been identified as being liable for a parking violation, or where the
absence of required information prevents a party from asserting an
appropriate defense" Ex. F to Williams Dec.Supp.Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss
("Williams Dec.") at 2. If the ALJ determines that the defect did impinge
on the Ticket recipient's due process rights, then the ALJ must vacate
the Ticket sua sponte, regardless of whether the Ticket recipient made an
application as called for by VTL § 238(2-a)(b). See Id.
The crux of this lawsuit is over the policy enacted by the Acting Chief
ALJ regarding the sua sponte dismissals of Tickets post-1995. While
plaintiffs allege that all statutory defects amount to jurisdictional
defects that must be dismissed sua sponte, see Pls.' Mem.Opp.Summ.J.
(hereafter "Pls.' Br.") at 9, defendants claim that the ALJs have the
discretion not to dismiss all Tickets sua sponte, but rather to require
the Ticket recipient to request dismissal pursuant to Section 238(2-a)(b)
and reserve sua sponte dismissals for misdescriptions or omissions that
impinge on due process as outlined in Acting Chief ALJ Rabinowitz's
memorandum. See Defs.' Mem.Supp.Summ.J. ("Defs.' Br.") at 3-4.
On May 11, 1998, the court dismissed this case, without prejudice, for
failure to state a claim for relief under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. See Jaonad and Vazquez v. City of New York, et
al., 4 F. Supp.2d 311 (S.D.N.Y. 1998) (Motley, J.). The court held that
the requirements of constitutional due process, i.e. notice and a
meaningful opportunity to be heard, were adequately met. The court found
that the City provided each Ticket recipient with a summons describing
the parking violation and the mechanism for contesting the violation. The
court opined that the PVB provided sufficient safeguards by sending
Ticket recipients three additional notices advising them of outstanding
summonses and reiterating the appeals procedure. Ticket recipients were
also informed of the availability of a 24-hour helpline and numerous
walk-in centers should they require further assistance. The court held
that these safeguards satisfied the notice requirement. See Id. at 313.
The court also explained that due process did not require the further
safeguard that Ticket recipients be
informed of their right to have their Tickets vacated since not all
defects deprived plaintiffs of due process. The court held that the ALJs'
post-1995 sua sponte dismissal policy also served to protect against any
violation of plaintiffs' due process rights. See Id.
As for the second prong of federal due process analysis, i.e.,
meaningful opportunity to be heard, the court held that no
unconstitutional limitations were placed on plaintiffs' right to be
heard. The court determined that Article 78 proceedings, the mechanism
for reviewing individual ALJ determinations, served as an adequate remedy
for plaintiffs who wanted to challenge an adverse decision by an ALJ.
Moreover, the court held that plaintiffs who wished to vacate their
Tickets after a default judgment had been entered against them equally
had a meaningful opportunity to be heard prior to the entering of the
default judgment. The court held that plaintiffs' failure to provide a
good excuse for the default was not an unlawful limitation on their
opportunity to be heard. See Id. at 314.
The court gave plaintiffs sixty (60) days leave to file an amended
complaint. Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on June 16, 1998, and
the City again moved to dismiss. See Id. at 315.
A. Standard for Motion to Dismiss Under