must merely determine whether the complaint itself is legally sufficient.
C. Eleventh Amendment
The defendants move to dismiss the plaintiffs remaining claims on the
grounds that the plaintiff is barred by the Eleventh Amendment from suing
them in their official capacity.
The plaintiff sues Stone and Spota in their official capacities.
Personal-capacity suits seek to impose personal liability upon a
government official for actions he takes under color of state law. In
contrast, official capacity suits "generally represent only another way
of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is an agent."
Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690, 98
S.Ct. 2018 (1978). Therefore, "to the extent that a state official is
sued for damages in his official capacity, such a suit is deemed to be a
suit against the state, and the official is entitled to invoke the
Eleventh Amendment belonging to the state." Ying Jing Gan v. City of New
York, 996 F.2d 522, 529 (2d Cir. 1993).
The Eleventh Amendment prohibits suits against a state or one of its
agencies in federal court absent the state's consent or a valid
abrogation of its sovereign immunity by an act of Congress. Pennhurst
State School & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100-01, 104 S.Ct. 900
(1984). The Supreme Court has held that Section 1983 does not abrogate
states' sovereign immunity. See Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 343, 99
S.Ct. 1139 (1979). Furthermore, New York has not consented to suits in
federal court. See Trotman v. Palisades Interstate Park Comm'n,
557 F.2d 35, 38-39 (2d Cir. 1977).
The Eleventh Amendment bars claims that seek either monetary damages or
retroactive injunctive relief. McGinty v. New York, 251 F.3d 84, 91 (2d
Cir. 2001). However, prospective injunctive relief is available against a
state officer in his official capacity under the doctrine of Ex Parte
Young, 209 U.S. 123, 155-56, 28 S.Ct. 441 (1908). This principle is
narrowly applied only to prospective injunctive relief and does not
extend to claims for retrospective relief. Ward v. Thomas, 207 F.3d 114,
119 (2d Cir. 2000); Diblasio v. Novelle, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18424, at
*27 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 27, 2002). Moreover, the Supreme Court has held that
the Eleventh Amendment and the principles governing the issuance of
declaratory judgments prohibit the award of a declaration that state
officials' prior conduct violated federal law. Green v. Mansour,
474 U.S. 64, 65-66, 106 S.Ct. 423 (1985).
Here, the plaintiff alleges that his rights under the Fourteenth
Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 were violated, and in the complaint,
he seeks declaratory relief against Stone "declaring that by denying
Ronald Rothenberg the opportunity to participate in a program of
counseling and therapy for rape victims, [Pilgrim] officials subjected
Rothenberg to treatment decisions that have constituted a substantial
departure from accepted judgment, practices or standards. . . ." The
plaintiff also seeks declaratory relief against Stone "declaring that
[Pilgrim] officials violated the plaintiff's right to remain free from
harm. . . ." In addition, the Court notes that nowhere in the complaint
does the plaintiff allege that Stone was personally involved in either
the plaintiff's treatment or Pilgrim's security decisions. The Court
finds that the plaintiff's complaint makes clear that he is seeking
declarations that Stone's past conduct violated federal law. He is
therefore seeking only retrospective declaratory relief. As such, this
Court lacks jurisdiction over his remaining
claims. Accordingly, the
defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint is granted.
Based on the foregoing, it is hereby
ORDERED, that the plaintiff's equal protection claim is dismissed
without prejudice; and it is further
ORDERED, that the defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiff's
requests for declaratory relief is granted.
ORDERED, that the Clerk of the Court is directed to close this case.
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