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NASH v. CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

United States District Court, Southern District of New York


May 15, 2003

LUKE NASH, PLAINTIFF, AGAINST THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: George B. Daniels, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

Plaintiff brought this suit against defendant seeking monetary and injunctive relief, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.*fn1 Defendant moves to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and (6). For the following reasons, defendant's motion to dismiss is granted.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) allows a party to move to dismiss a complaint where the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. See FED. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). A case is properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction where the district court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate it. See Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000). Once subject matter jurisdiction has been challenged, the plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that subject matter jurisdiction exists. See id., Malik v. Meissner, 82 F.3d 560, 562 (2d Cir. 1996) ("The burden of proving jurisdiction is on the party asserting it.")

Defendant argues that this Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiffs ADA claim because it is barred by the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution. Plaintiff concedes that the portion of his complaint seeking monetary damages is barred by the Eleventh Amendment, but contends that the portion of the complaint seeking injunctive relief falls within the exception established by Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1909).

The Eleventh Amendment divests a federal court of subject matter jurisdiction over a case brought by a citizen of a state against a state or one of the state's agencies or entities, unless the state consents to such a suit or unless there has been an abrogation of state sovereign immunity by Congress. See U.S. CONST., amend XI; see also Bd. of Trustees of the Univ. of Alabama v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356, 363 (2001); Pennhurst State School & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984). "The ultimate guarantee of the Eleventh Amendment is that nonconsenting States may not be sued by private individuals in federal court." Garrett, 531 U.S. at 363. Further, "[t]his jurisdictional bar applies regardless of the nature of the relief sought." Pennhurst, 465 U.S. at 100 see also Missouri v. Fiske, 290 U.S. 18, 27 (1933) (holding that the Eleventh Amendment forbids suits against states by individuals brought without the state's consent whether the complaint seeks relief in law or in equity).

However, under Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908), the Supreme Court established a narrow exception to state sovereign immunity in federal actions where an individual brings an action seeking injunctive relief against a state official. See Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908); see also Garrett, 531 U.S. at 374 n. 9. Under Ex Parte Young, there is "a limited exception to the general principle of sovereign immunity [that] allows a suit for injunctive relief challenging the constitutionality of a state official's actions in enforcing state law under the theory that such a suit is not one against the State, and therefore not barred by the Eleventh Amendment." Ford v. Reynolds, 316 F.3d 351, 354-55 (2d Cir. 2003), quoting CSX Transp., Inc. v. N.Y. State Office of Real Prop. Servs., 306 F.3d 87, 98 (2d Cir. 2002).

In this case, defendant is an entity of the State of New York for Eleventh Amendment purposes. See e.g., Hamilton v. City College of the City Univ. of New York, 173 F. Supp.2d 181, 184 (S.D.N.Y. 2001); Becker v. City Univ. of New York, 94 F. Supp.2d 487, 489 (S.D.N.Y. 2000); During v. City Univ. of New York, No. 01 civ 9584, 2002 WL 1159675, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. May 31, 2002). As noted earlier, plaintiff concedes that the portion of his complaint seeking monetary damages against defendant is barred by the Eleventh Amendment. However, plaintiffs demand for injunctive relief is also barred. The exception established under Ex Parte Young only applies where a plaintiff brings suit for injunctive relief against a state official. However, plaintiff has not sued a state official, but rather an entity of the State of New York. Ex Parte Young is not applicable here and plaintiffs ADA claim against defendant is barred in its entirety by the Eleventh Amendment. Therefore, this Court grants defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint.*fn2

SO ORDERED.


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