Because this Court finds that plaintiffs' claims against
DeParle and Shalala do not present a live case or controversy,
the federal defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant
to Rule 12(b)(1) is granted.
1. The Complaint Is Moot
The issue of mootness arises in this case because the provision
of medicaid law that plaintiffs accuse the federal defendants of
failing to enforce has since been amended, and plaintiffs present
no claims that Federal officials are not acting in compliance
with existing law.
The threshold question in every case before a federal court is
whether the Court has the authority to adjudicate the lawsuit.
Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 45 L.Ed.2d
343 (1975); New York State National Organization for Women v.
Terry, 886 F.2d 1339, 1346 (2d Cir. 1989). "Federal courts are
without power to decide questions that cannot affect the rights
of litigants in the case before them." DeFunis v. Odegaard,
416 U.S. 312, 316, 94 S.Ct. 1704, 40 L.Ed.2d 164 (1974); see also
Muhammad v. City of New York Dept. of Corrections, 126 F.3d 119,
122-23 (2d Cir. 1997) ("Our inability to review a moot case
`derives from the requirement of Art. III of the Constitution
under which the exercise of judicial power depends upon the
existence of a case or controversy.'") (quoting DeFunis, 416
U.S. at 316, 94 S.Ct. 1704); Fox v. Board of Trustees of the
State University of New York, 42 F.3d 135, 140 (2d Cir. 1994)
(case is moot when "the parties lack a legally cognizable
interest in the outcome.") (internal quotations omitted).
"When a case becomes moot, `federal courts lack subject
matter jurisdiction.'" Fox, 42 F.3d at 140 (quoting New York
City Employees' Retirement Sys. v. Dole Food Co., 969 F.2d 1430,
1433 (2d Cir. 1992)). Plaintiffs, who are seeking to invoke the
subject matter jurisdiction of this Court, bear the burden of
showing that they are properly before the Court. McNutt v.
General Motors Acceptance Corp., 298 U.S. 178, 189, 56 S.Ct.
780, 80 L.Ed. 1135 (1936); Scelsa v. City University of New
York, 76 F.3d 37, 40 (2d Cir. 1996).
Here, plaintiffs cannot meet their burden as their complaint
presents no live case or controversy between them and the federal
defendants. The complaint asks the Court to declare that in the
past the federal defendants acted contrary to law in failing to
enforce a reasonable cost reimbursement policy that Congress has
since abolished. Plaintiffs do not and cannot seek damages on
this claim from the federal government and they do not allege any
redressable continuing effect from the federal defendants'
allegedly unlawful conduct.
"[A] mere demand for declaratory relief does not by itself
establish a case or controversy necessary to confer subject
matter jurisdiction." S. Jackson & Son, Inc. v. Coffee, Sugar &
Cocoa Exchange, Inc., 24 F.3d 427, 431 (2d Cir. 1994). "The real
value of the judicial pronouncement — what makes it a proper
judicial resolution of a `case or controversy' rather than an
advisory opinion — is in the settling of some dispute which
affects the behavior of the defendant towards the plaintiff."
Hewitt v. Helms, 482 U.S. 755, 761, 107 S.Ct. 2672, 96 L.Ed.2d
654 (1987). A declaratory judgment in a case such as this would
be "without implications for practical enforcement upon the
parties." S. Jackson, 24 F.3d at 431.
2. Plaintiffs Lack Standing Against Federal Defendants
The requirement of standing is derived from Article III's
limitation on judicial power to actual cases or controversies.
See Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for
Separation of Church & State, 454 U.S. 464, 471, 102 S.Ct. 752,
70 L.Ed.2d 700 (1982); Simon v. Eastern Ky. Welfare Rights
Org., 426 U.S. 26, 37, 96 S.Ct. 1917, 48 L.Ed.2d 450 (1976).
"[T]he standing question in its Art. III aspect `is whether the
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.'"
Simon, 426 U.S. at 38, 96 S.Ct. 1917 (quoting Warth v.
Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498-499, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 45 L.Ed.2d 343
(1975)); see also Lee v. Bd. Of Governors of Federal Reserve
Sys., 118 F.3d 905, 910 (2d Cir. 1997) ("a litigant's stake in
the controversy must extend beyond mere interest in a dispute,
and . . . standing . . . ensure[s] the presence of that concrete
adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which
the court so largely depends") (internal quotations omitted). The
party invoking the authority of the court bears the burden of
proof on the standing issue. Id.
To establish standing, plaintiffs must satisfy three
conditions: First, plaintiffs must show they have suffered an
"injury in fact" — an invasion of a judicially cognizable
interest which is (a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual
or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical. Lee, 118 F.3d at
910; Matter of Appointment of Indep. Counsel, 766 F.2d 70, 73
(2d Cir. 1985) ("a plaintiff must establish first that he has
suffered some `distinct and palpable injury'") (quoting
Gladstone, Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, 441 U.S. 91, 100,
99 S.Ct. 1601, 60 L.Ed.2d 66 (1979)). Second, there must be a
causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained
of, i.e., the injury must be fairly traceable to the challenged
action of the defendant, and not the result of the independent
action of some third party not before the court. Lee, 118 F.3d
at 910; Indep. Counsel, 766 F.2d at 73. Finally, plaintiffs
must show that it is likely, as opposed to merely speculative,
that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision. Id.
Plaintiffs here cannot satisfy the third prong*fn4 of the
Plaintiffs' alleged injury — the inability to receive
reasonable cost reimbursement during the period 1990 to October
1, 1997 — cannot be redressed by a favorable decision against the
federal defendants in this case. The most that plaintiffs could
obtain from this Court against the federal defendants is a
declaration that HCFA and HHS acted arbitrarily and capriciously
in the past in failing to enforce federal Medicaid law. Besides
emotional satisfaction, such a declaration would not provide any
relief to the plaintiffs, financial or otherwise; plaintiffs thus
lack standing. See Simon v. Eastern Ky. Welfare Rights Org.,
426 U.S. 26, 45-46, 96 S.Ct. 1917, 48 L.Ed.2d 450 (1976)
(dismissing action for lack of standing where complaint suggested
"no substantial likelihood that victory in this suit would result
in respondents' receiving the hospital treatment they desire.");
Indep. Counsel, 766 F.2d at 74 (no standing where "relief
requested . . . would not redress the applicants' injuries").
Because plaintiffs cannot show that their alleged injury would be
redressed by a favorable decision from this Court, they lack
standing to sue the federal defendants.
For the foregoing reasons, federal defendants Nancy-Ann Min
DeParle and Donna Shalala's motion to dismiss is granted, state
defendant Barbara DeBuono's motion to dismiss is granted,
Westchester County defendant Kevin P. Mahon's motion to dismiss
is denied. The parties are directed to appear at a conference
pursuant to Rule 16, Fed.R.Civ.P. on October 7, 1999 at 9:00 a.m.