The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pauley, District Judge.
Defendants Rudolph Giuliani, Mayor of the City of New York, and
Jason Turner, Commissioner of the New York City Department of
Social Services, (the "City defendants") move to modify a
preliminary injunction entered by this Court on January 25, 1999.
See Reynolds v. Giuliani, 35 F. Supp.2d 331 (S.D.N.Y. 1999). For
the reasons that follow, the City defendants' motion is granted
in part and denied in part.
Beginning in March 1998, the New York City Human Resources
Administration ("HRA") began to revamp its procedures concerning
the administration of Food Stamps, Medicaid and cash assistance
to needy applicants in an effort to implement various changes in
federal and State law. In particular, HRA began to convert its
existing "income support centers" to "job centers" where a
greater emphasis is placed on moving applicants towards
self-sufficiency through employment.
On December 16, 1998, plaintiffs moved by order to show cause
for a preliminary injunction on behalf of a putative class of
individuals who had been denied food stamps, Medicaid and cash
assistance despite their alleged eligibility and dire need.
Following a three-day evidentiary hearing on January 20, 21 and
22, 1999, this Court granted plaintiffs' application and enjoined
the City defendants from opening new job centers or converting
income support centers until the City formulated a corrective
action plan that addressed apparent systemic violations of
federal and State law.
The City defendants filed a corrective action plan on February
10, 1999. Over the next eight weeks, the parties conducted
discovery and litigated the sufficiency of the City's initial
proposals. During that period, the City defendants made numerous
revisions to the Plan's policy directives, brochures, and forms
in response to the plaintiffs' comments and objections. The Plan
that emerged from that metamorphic process was materially
different than the Plan submitted by the City defendants on
February 10, 1999. The Court heard oral argument on the
sufficiency of the corrective action plan on April 29, 1999.*fn1
A. The Applicable Standard
When modifying a preliminary injunction, a court is charged
with exercising the same discretion it exercised in granting or
denying the injunction in the first instance. See Sierra Club v.
United States Army Corps of Engineers, 732 F.2d 253, 256 (2d
Cir. 1984). "An injunction is an ambulatory remedy that marches
along according to the nature of the proceeding. It is executory
and subject to adaption as events may shape the need, except
where rights are fully accrued or facts are so nearly permanent
as to be substantially impervious to change." Id. at 256.
The testimony and other evidence adduced at the evidentiary
hearing prompted this Court to express concern that the urgent
needs of numerous individuals, including children, expectant
mothers, and the disabled, were being overlooked as HRA
endeavored to convert income support centers into job centers.
See Reynolds, 35 F. Supp.2d at 339. At that time, the City
defendants asserted, and they continued to argue, that processing
errors occur infrequently and that isolated mistakes are
inevitable in a system that processes thousands of applications
per week.*fn2 The City defendants argue that since they have
formulated and started to implement a detailed corrective action
plan, any risk of irreparable harm to the plaintiffs has been
extinguished. The City's Plan as it emerged on April 29, 1999 is
B. The Corrective Action Plan
This Court's January 25 Order identified six areas of concern
to be addressed in the City defendants' corrective action plan.
The City's six-part Plan is organized to correspond with those
six areas of concern.
Item A of the corrective action plan sets forth procedures to
permit applicants to file an application for food stamps,
Medicaid, or cash assistance on the first day of contact with a
job center. Under the City's plan, an applicant's completion of
the revised Applicant Job Profile ("AJP") form starts the
application process. Plaintiffs initially objected to HRA's use
of the AJP form primarily because it had not been approved by the
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance or
the New York State Department of Health. However, in March 1999,
those agencies approved a revised version of the
AJP form. Thus, plaintiffs' objection to HRA's use of the AJP
form is moot.
Item B of the corrective action plan sets forth procedures for
ensuring separate determinations of eligibility for food stamps,
Medicaid, and cash assistance. Under the Plan, the AJP form has
been revised to prompt the applicant to make independent
decisions concerning withdrawal from the application process for
each category of benefit. Additionally, the AJP contains a
Medicaid Application Option form in which the applicant is asked
whether he wants a separate Medicaid determination if his cash
application is denied. Medicaid brochures and food stamp
brochures, which are distributed on the first day, have ...