Court determined that Dittmer abandoned his takings claim and
dismissed Dittmer's facial Due Process challenge. See id.
On March 23, 2001, Suffolk moved for summary judgment.
Dittmer v. County of Suffolk, No. 96-CV-2206, slip op. at 1
(E.D.N.Y. April 2, 2001). The Court denied that motion without
prejudice to renew on grounds that it was premature. Id. at
1-2. The Court also referred the matter to United States
Magistrate Judge Arlene R. Lindsay to supervise completion of
discovery. Id. at 2.
On May 30, 2001, Magistrate Judge Lindsay issued an Order
quashing three Subpoenas Duces Tecum issued by Dittmer to New
York State Assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli, New York State Senator
Kenneth LaValle and legislative staff member Michael Deering on
grounds that the subpoenas were overly broad and irrelevant to
anything necessary to prove Dittmer's sole remaining Equal
Protection claim. See Dittmer v. County of Suffolk, No.
96-CV-2206, slip op. at 1 (E.D.N.Y. July 11, 2001). On July 11,
2001, following a hearing on the relevancy of the information
sought in the Subpoenas, Magistrate Judge Lindsay again
determined that the information sought was irrelevant to a
facial Equal Protection claim. See id.
These motions followed. The Court heard oral argument on these
motions on January 4, 2002 and reserved decision.
A. Summary Judgment Standard
Courts may grant summary judgment when the moving party
demonstrates: (1) that there is no genuine issue of material
fact for trial; and (2) that it is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. FED.R.CIV.P. 56(c); Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. v.
Stroh Cos., 265 F.3d 97, 103 (2d Cir. 2001). On motions for
summary judgment, courts must construe all facts and draw all
inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See Howley v. Town
of Stratford, 217 F.3d 141, 150-51 (2d Cir. 2000).
Facts are material if they "`might affect the outcome of the
suit under the governing law.'" Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co., 265
F.3d at 103 (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)). Factual issues
are genuine if "`the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'" Id. (quoting
same); Graham v. Long Island R.R., 230 F.3d 34, 38 (2000).
To survive a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party
"`must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical
doubt as to the material facts.'" Dister v. Cont'l Group,
Inc., 859 F.2d 1108, 1114 (2d Cir. 1988) (quoting Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106
S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986)). The nonmoving party must
"make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of . . .
[the] element[s] on which . . . [it] will bear the burden of
proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322,
106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).
2. Local Civil Rule 56.1
In the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, parties
moving for summary judgment must submit 56.1 Statements. LOCAL
Civ. R. 56.1(a). Nonmoving parties must respond with separate
statements of material fact for which they contend there is a
genuine issue for trial. Id. 56.1(b). Any facts posited by the
moving party that are not controverted by the nonmoving party
are deemed admitted. Id. 56.1(c). Both parties must cite to
admissible evidence following each statement of fact for
that statement itself to be admissible. Id. 56.1(d).
The Second Circuit permits District Courts to grant summary
judgment to moving parties on the basis of their uncontroverted
56.1 Statements. See Millus v. D'Angelo, 224 F.3d 137, 138 (2d
Cir. 2000); see also Gubitosi v. Kapica, 154 F.3d 30, 31 n. 1
(2d Cir. 1998) (reversing District Court's denial of summary
judgment and accepting defendant's uncontested assertions).
While District Courts are "`not required to consider what the
parties fail to point out' in their . . . 56.1[S]tatements,"
they may discretionarily choose to search the record of their
own accord. See Holtz, 258 F.3d at 73 (quoting Monahan v. New
York City Dep't of Corrs., 214 F.3d 275, 292 (2d Cir. 2000)
(citations omitted)). However, there is no obligation to do so.
While the parties' 56.1 Statements do differ substantially,
they do not differ on any material facts that raise genuine
issues for trial. Significantly, both parties agree that the Act
was passed to protect the Pine Barrens' ecosystem and the Source
Aquifer. (Pls.' 56.1 Stmnt. ¶ 4; Defs.' 56.1 Stmnt. 1 4.) In
light of what Dittmer must prove at trial to sustain a facial
Equal Protection claim, other contested facts are irrelevant and
therefore not material.
Moreover, Dittmer's statements concerning political corruption
are of questionable admissibility. See LOCAL Civ. R. 56.1(d).
In paragraph nine of his 56.1 Statement, Dittmer attempts to
incorporate 218 paragraphs from an affidavit sworn by his
attorney. That affidavit consists largely of speculation and is
not based on personal knowledge. The affidavit itself is
therefore suspect, and citation to it is equally dubious. In any
case, paragraph nine of Dittmer's 56.1 Statement does not
contain facts necessary to decide this motion. Accordingly, the
Court will only consider those facts necessary to determine
whether the Act facially violates the Equal Protection clause of
the Fourteenth Amendment. See Holtz v. Rockefeller & Co.,
Inc., 258 F.3d 62, 73 (2d Cir. 2001).
B. Equal Protection
Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States
Constitution forbids States from denying persons within their
jurisdictions equal protection of the laws. U.S. CONST. amend.
XIV, § 1. Laws and statutes that treat persons differently are
subject to rational basis scrutiny unless plaintiffs claim: (1)
violation of a fundamental right; or (2) disparate treatment
based on a suspect or quasi-suspect classification. See
Weinstein v. Albright, 261 F.3d 127, 140 (2d Cir. 2001);
Jackson v. Burke, 256 F.3d 93, 96 (2d Cir. 2001).
Fundamental rights include the right to: (1) privacy; (2)
marry; (3) vote; (4) travel; and (5) freely associate. Savino
v. County of Suffolk, 774 F. Supp. 756, 758 (E.D.N.Y. 1991).
Suspect and quasi-suspect classifications are ones based on
race, gender, alienage or national origin. Myers v. County of
Orange, 157 F.3d 66, 74 (2d Cir. 1998).
Statutes survive rational basis scrutiny if they create
classifications that "`rationally further . . . legitimate
state interest[s].'" Weinstein, 261 F.3d at 140 (quoting
Nordlinger v. Hahn, 505 U.S. 1, 10, 112 S.Ct. 2326, 120
L.Ed.2d 1 (1992)). Rational basis review is highly deferential,
"`does not pass judgment upon the wisdom, fairness, or logic of
legislative decisions'" and mandates upholding statutes if
"`there is any reasonably conceivable state of facts that could
provide a rational basis for the classification.'" Id.
Media Comm., Inc. v. Cohen, 131 F.3d 273, 285 (2d Cir. 1997)).
Moreover, rational basis review presumes a statute's validity
and imposes on the party attacking the statute the burden of
negating "`every conceivable basis which might support it'" on
rational basis review. Tarbe v. Berkel, Inc., 196 F.3d 136,
137 (2d Cir. 1999) (quoting FCC v. Beach Communications, Inc.,
508 U.S. 307, 315, 113 S.Ct. 2096, 124 L.Ed.2d 211 (1993)
(internal quotations and citations omitted)); Able v. United
States, 155 F.3d 628, 632 (2d Cir. 1998). Accordingly, statutes
subject to rational basis review survive if there is any
"`plausible'" justification for the distinctions they draw. See
Weinstein, 261 F.3d at 140.
C. Summary Judgment for Suffolk Against Dittmer is
Dittmer has failed to raise genuine issues of material fact
that concern the rational basis for the Act. See Nat'l Union
Fire Ins. Co. v. Stroh Cos., 265 F.3d at 103. Accordingly,
summary judgment for Suffolk is appropriate.
1. Rational Basis Review is Proper
Dittmer has not alleged that the Act: (1) violates a
fundamental right; or (2) discriminates based on a suspect or
quasi-suspect classification. See Myers, 157 F.3d at 74;
Savino, 774 F. Supp. at 758. The Act is therefore subject to
rational basis review. See Weinstein, 261 F.3d at 140;
Jackson, 256 F.3d at 96. Accordingly, to survive Suffolk's
Motion for Summary Judgment, Dittmer must show that the Act does
not rationally further any legitimate New York State interest
and that there is no conceivable set of facts that support the
distinctions the Act draws. See Weinstein, 261 F.3d at 140;
Tarbe, 196 F.3d at 137; Able, 155 F.3d at 632.
2. The Act Survives Rational Basis Review
There is a rational basis for the Act. Protecting the Source
Aquifer and the Pine Barrens' unique ecosystem are legitimate
New York State interests and the land conservation plan
implemented by the New York State Legislature rationally
furthers those goals. See Weinstein, 261 F.3d at 140. The
Court presumes the Act's validity and is not in a position to
pass "`judgment upon the wisdom, fairness, or logic'" of the
manner chosen by the New York State Legislature to effect those
goals. See id. (quoting Gen. Media Comm., Inc., 131 F.3d at
285). Accordingly, Dittmer has not carried his burden of
defeating the rational basis for the Act. See Weinstein, 261
F.3d at 140; Tarbe, 196 F.3d at 137; Able, 155 F.3d at 632.
3. Vagueness and Overbreadth
Dittmer attempts to carry his burden by erroneously arguing
that the Act is unconstitutionally broad and vague. Dittmer's
misguided application of a First Amendment invalidity standard
fails because Dittmer has not alleged that the Act impermissibly
restricts anyone's freedom of expression.
Moreover, vagueness and overbreadth claims do not address how
the Act fails to protect the Source Aquifer or the Pine Barrens'
unique ecosystem, and thereby fails to negate "`every
conceivable basis which might support [the Act].'" Tarbe, 196
F.3d at 137; see Weinstein, 261 F.3d at 140; Able, 155 F.3d
at 632. Accordingly, Dittmer has not presented facts necessary
to prove an element on which he bears the burden at trial, and
summary judgment for Suffolk is appropriate. See Celotex
Corp., 477 U.S. at 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548.
4. Regulatory Taking
Dittmer's facial regulatory taking argument is similarly
deficient. That inapposite argument fails to negate the two
primary goals that support the Act (protecting the Source
Aquifer and the Pine Barrens' unique ecosystem) and consequently
fails to defeat the rational basis for the Act. See Weinstein,
261 F.3d at 140; Tarbe, 196 F.3d at 137; Able, 155 F.3d at
632. Accordingly, Dittmer has not presented facts necessary to
prove an element on which he bears the burden at trial and
summary judgment for Suffolk is proper. See Celotex Corp., 477
U.S. at 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548.
5. Fraud in the Inception
Dittmer's fraud in the inception argument does not carry his
burden either. While allegations of political impropriety and
inappropriate power-brokering are intriguing, they do not
invalidate the Act's goals of protecting the Source Aquifer and
the Pine Barrens' unique ecosystem and therefore do not refute
the rational basis for the Act. See Weinstein, 261 F.3d at
140; Tarbe, 196 F.3d at 137; Able, 155 F.3d at 632. Those
accusations are better addressed to a political forum.
6. Consequences of Dittmer's Failure to Carry His Burden
Even if the facts and inferences are construed in the light
most favorable to Dittmer, his vagueness, overbreadth,
regulatory taking and political corruption arguments are neither
material nor genuine because: (1) they do not affect the outcome
of the case under governing Equal Protection law; and (2) no
reasonable jury could return a verdict in Dittmer's favor on his
Equal Protection claim on those grounds. See Nat'l Union Fire
Ins. Co., 265 F.3d at 103.
Accordingly, Dittmer has failed to prove that the Act lacks a
rational basis, which is his burden at trial. Summary judgment
for Suffolk County is therefore appropriate, and summary
judgment for Dittmer on his cross-motion is conversely improper.
See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548.
Suffolk's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED. Summary
Judgment for Dittmer is DENIED. The Clerk of the Court shall
enter final judgment for Suffolk.