plaintiffs' claims fit the circumstances contemplated by Ex
Parte Young, the Eleventh Amendment will not shield State
defendant from liability.
In Ex Parte Young, the Supreme Court found that state
officers were stripped of their state or representative authority
when acting in violation of federal law. 209 U.S. at 159-60, 28
S.Ct. 441. Where a state official has the discretion to enforce
state policies, Ex Parte Young found that the Eleventh
Amendment could not immunize state officials from liability for
continuing violations of federal law. As the state has no power
to shield state officials from the greater authority of federal
law, federal courts may afford prospective injunctive relief to
plaintiffs who demonstrate continuing violations of federal law
by a state actor.*fn14
In this case, the plaintiff class has sued the Commissioner of
the New York State Department of Social Services. Plaintiffs
claimed violations of the ADA and other laws in failing to
supervise the provision of public services in New York City and
in failing to ensure local compliance with the laws governing the
plaintiff class's access to these services. Plaintiffs have not
sued the state itself or an agency thereof. However, plaintiffs
have put forth evidence and allegations sufficient to imply State
defendant's liability. Thus, the federal claims against State
defendant are not improper under the Eleventh Amendment; they
fall clearly within the ambit of the doctrine of Ex Parte
Finally, the Supreme Court has also said that "where Congress
has prescribed a detailed remedial scheme for the enforcement
against a State of a statutorily created right, a court should
hesitate before casting aside those limitations and permitting an
action against a state officer based upon Ex Parte Young."
Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 74, 116
S.Ct. 1114, 134 L.Ed.2d 252 (1996). However, this mandate
engenders no conflict with this Court's holding that plaintiffs'
action against the Commissioner of the New York State Department
of Social Services may continue.
To the degree that Congress has prescribed a remedial scheme
for the enforcement of the statutorily created rights of the ADA,
the constitutionality of that remedy remains unclear in light of
the Court's holding in Kimel v. Board of Regents, ___ U.S. ___,
120 S.Ct. 631, 145 L.Ed.2d 522 (2000), and its subsequent action
in State Univ. of NY, et al. v. Anderson, 2000 WL 29247 (U.S.
Jan.18, 2000) (vacating and remanding Second Circuit's denial of
Eleventh Amendment immunity when state sued under Equal Pay Act
in light of Kimel decision).
Since the constitutionality of the congressionally prescribed
enforcement mechanism under the ADA is questionable, allowing
these plaintiffs to maintain their suit under the doctrine of Ex
Parte Young does not amount to a supplementary,
judicially-created enforcement mechanism. To the contrary, this
is precisely the situation contemplated by the doctrine of Ex
Parte Young; plaintiffs here seek only prospective injunctive
relief in order to end a continuing violation of federal law.
State defendant's motion to dismiss federal claims is denied.
C. State Law Claims
Insofar as the plaintiffs seek remedies from State defendant
solely for violations of state law, such claims must be
dismissed.*fn15 State defendants are correct in noting that the
Supreme Court in Pennhurst held the Eleventh Amendment bars
federal courts from enjoining state officials from violating
state law. 465 U.S. at 120-121, 104 S.Ct. 900. This Court's power
to assert supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367 is
thus curtailed in this context. State defendant's motion to
dismiss state law claims is granted.
However, while plaintiffs may not seek redress under state law,
plaintiffs are not barred from satisfying their burden of proof
on the elements of their federal law claims using definitions,
obligations, and responsibilities found in state law. Plaintiffs
may use state law, and evidence of State defendant's liability
under it, to prove that State defendant is in violation of
federal law. Where plaintiffs use non-compliance with state laws
to demonstrate non-compliance with federal statutes, such as the
ADA, the Eleventh Amendment is not implicated.
II. Summary Judgment
A. Standard for Summary Judgment
To succeed in obtaining summary judgment, a defendant must
"show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). "Summary judgment is appropriate if the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits . . . show that
there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." LaFond
v. General Physics Svcs. Corp., 50 F.3d 165, 171 (2d Cir. 1995)
(citations and internal quotations omitted).
In determining whether there is a general issue as to any
material fact, moreover, "the trial court is required to resolve
all ambiguities and draw all inferences in favor of the party
against whom summary judgment is sought." Id. at 175. "The
burden of showing that no genuine factual dispute exists rests on
the party seeking summary judgment." Cronin v. Aetna Life Ins.
Co., 46 F.3d 196, 202 (2d Cir. 1995).
Once the movant has come forward with appropriate support
demonstrating that there is no genuine issue of material fact to
be tried, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to present
similar support setting forth specific facts about which a
genuine triable issue remains. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250,
106 S.Ct. 2505. Mere conclusory allegations will not suffice.
Instead, the nonmoving party must present "significant probative
supporting evidence" that a factual dispute exists. Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(e); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505.
City defendants cite several cases for the proposition that the
city is in compliance with the requirements of the ADA and other
laws pertaining to the plaintiffs' claims and is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. According to City defendants,
plaintiffs' claims are legally foreclosed by Supreme Court
caselaw, including Alexander v. Choate, 469 U.S. 287, 105 S.Ct.
712, 83 L.Ed.2d 661 (1985) (court found ADA does not prohibit
limit on Medicaid reimbursement for hospital stays despite
undisputed disproportionate impact on disabled persons), and
Second Circuit caselaw, including Rodriguez v. City of New
York, 197 F.3d 611, 1999 WL 795552 (2d Cir. October 6, 1999)
(ADA does not require provision of additional benefits to the
disabled, merely equal access to those already available); Doe
v. Pfrommer, 148 F.3d 73 (2d Cir. 1998) (ADA requires only that
a particular service provided to some not be denied to disabled
people); Flight v. Gloeckler, 68 F.3d 61, 63-64 (2d Cir. 1995)
(dismissal of ADA and Rehabilitation
Act claims proper where plaintiff alleged only the denial of a
benefit available only to disabled persons); Lincoln Cercpac v.
Health & Hosps. Corp., 147 F.3d 165, 167 (2d Cir. 1998). The
Court finds these cases inapposite to the facts and issues
presented in the case at bar.
In Rodriguez, the plaintiffs sought the addition of safety
monitoring to New York's personal-care services package, claiming
they were effectively denied services because of their
disability. In reversing the district court, the circuit cited
the ADA's non-discrimination standard. Rodriguez, 197 F.3d 611,
617-19. Compliance with the ADA required non-discrimination only:
New York State need only ensure equal and meaningful access to
the services already offered in its personal care services
package and elsewhere.
City defendants interpret the holding in Rodriguez broadly in
support of the proposition that the ADA and the Rehabilitation
Act require only that "services provided to the non-disabled not
be denied to the disabled." Def.Mem.Law at 13. This is an
overbroad reading of the circuit's holding.
The Second Circuit reaffirmed that the meaningful access to
public services envisioned by the ADA's mandate of "reasonable
accommodation" could be limited to ensuring access to services
already available to non-disabled persons. Id at 619. Even if
the state has not denied disabled persons a service or benefit
available to non-disabled persons, the state still retains the
affirmative responsibility to ensure disabled persons have equal
and meaningful access to that benefit.
The Court finds that the provisions of Rodriguez, and other
controlling decisions in this area, are not antagonistic to the
relief sought by plaintiffs in this case. Here, the plaintiff
class has made it very clear that it makes no substantive
challenge to the benefits and services available to the class
members. Plaintiffs do not challenge the amount or adequacy of
the benefits available to them; they seek equal and meaningful
access to benefits already available to them. The plaintiff class
brings claims based entirely on its inability to access publicly
subsidized benefits and services to which they are
1. City Defendants' Compliance
Although defendants' claim that no triable issues of fact
exist, it seems that considerable factual disputes remain in this
case. City defendants cite the quarterly DASIS report as proof
that DASIS is an efficient and effective method of facilitating
its clients equal and meaningful access to public benefits.
Plaintiffs counter with expert testimony and sworn client
statements that indicate just the opposite. Plaintiffs also cite
evidence that defendants have admitted they do not compile and
are unable to determine much of the systemic information they are
legally required to report. Pl.Rule 56.1 Stmt. at ¶ 38.
Credibility is not an issue on summary judgment; the Court is
to draw all reasonable inferences and resolve all genuine factual
disputes in favor of the nonmoving party. For purposes of the
motion, the nonmovant's evidence is presumed true.
In this case, that presumption reveals genuine issues of
material fact that are in dispute. These issues include, among
others: whether DASIS operates to ensure equal and meaningful
access to public benefits; whether the quarterly DASIS report
credibly and reliably discloses DASIS' efficacy; whether DASIS is
in violation of the DASIS Law regarding mandated ratios of case
managers and supervisors to clients and regarding the statistical
record-keeping and reporting requirements of the Law; whether
DASIS is processing applications and facilitating the provision
of services within the legally mandated time frame for enhanced
rental assistance and other areas of assistance. Thus, defendants
have failed to meet their burden of establishing the absence of
factual disputes. City defendants motion for summary judgment is
2. State Defendant's Compliance
State defendant claims that plaintiffs' `failure to supervise'
claims must be dismissed due to lack of causation and because the
state has satisfied its duty to supervise New York City's
provision of public benefits through the administrative fair
Plaintiffs, on the other hand, argue that state defendant is
liable for failure to act since the provisions of the ADA and the
Rehabilitation Act require affirmative efforts to assist
plaintiffs in getting their benefits. Plaintiffs allege the State
has two responsibilities: the provision of benefits to eligible
recipients, and under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, the
provision of meaningful and equal access to these benefits to
persons living with AIDS and clinical/symptomatic HIV. In both
areas, State defendant's responsibility is largely supervisory
since local agencies administer most social services programs.
Plaintiffs contend that State defendant's failure to supervise
New York City's provision of benefits denied the plaintiff class
meaningful and equal access to the provision of benefits and led
directly to the injuries for which plaintiff seek redress.
Plaintiffs may well be able to prove State defendant's
non-compliance with the federal disability discrimination
regulations. Plaintiffs have noted that New York State law
expressly requires State defendant to supervise the provision of
services by New York City.*fn17 "In the administration of public
assistance funds, whether they come from Federal, State, or local
sources, the authority and responsibility is that of the county
commissioners of social services, not the counties; the local
commissioners act on behalf of and as agents for the State."
Matter of Beaudoin v. Toia, 45 N.Y.2d 343, 408 N.Y.S.2d 417,
380 N.E.2d 246, 247 (1978).
Plaintiffs also highlight State defendant's responsibility to
ensure compliance with the ADA despite the fact that DASIS is a
new York City program. "Under the Federal and the State statutory
schemes, State social service agencies have complete supervisory
authority over the local departments." Tormos v. Hammons,
259 A.D.2d 434, 687 N.Y.S.2d 336 (1st Dept. 1999). Under New York
law, State defendant's mission and mandate is clear. However,
genuine factual questions preclude a finding that the State
defendant is acting in compliance with either its charter or the
ADA, or that plaintiffs have not stated viable legal claims in
this context. It is unclear whether plaintiffs have the
opportunity to fully address their concerns with DASIS services
in the fair hearing process. Numerous fact questions remain
concerning the scope, feasibility and nature of State defendant's
supervisory authority under New York State law and the ADA and
Rehabilitation Act. Additionally, the State has not come forward
with evidence of reasonable modifications made with the intent to
insure equal and meaningful access to the provision of services
for people with AIDS. The Court finds that material issues of
fact prevents judgment as a matter of law on these claims. State
defendant's motion for summary judgment is denied.
Based on the foregoing reasons, defendants' motions for summary
judgment are DENIED. State defendant's motion to dismiss state
law claims is GRANTED.
State defendant's motion to dismiss federal law claims is DENIED.