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Anderson Group, LLC. v. City of Saratoga Springs

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK


July 20, 2006

ANDERSON GROUP, LLC., GAIL ANDERSON, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF SARATOGA SPRINGS, SARATOGA SPRINGS CITY COUNCIL, SARATOGA SPRINGS PLANNING BOARD, AND IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES: MICHAEL LENZ, MATTHEW MCCABE, THOMAS MCTYGUE, STEPHEN TOWNE, LEWIS BENTON, ROBERT BRISTOL, ROBERT ISREAL, WILLIAM MCTYGUE, NANCY OHLIN, LOU SCHNEIDER, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary L. Sharpe U.S. District Judge

Summary Order

On July 20, 2006, this court heard oral argument on defendants' Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings. See Dkt. No. 24. At the hearing, the court denied all aspects of defendants' motion because the issues presented were either premature or contrary to established law. The court now issues this summary order for clarification purposes. Following review of the parties' oral arguments, the parties' submissions, the relevant law, and for the reasons that follow, the court denied the motion.

Defendants make several arguments in support of their motion. Specifically, they argue that the action should be dismissed because: (1) the issue is not ripe for review; (2) the Burford abstention doctrine applies; (3) individual liability does not exist, and if it did, the defendants are entitled to legislative immunity; (4) a required notice of claim was not filed under state law, and (5) New York Human Rights Law § 296 does not apply to municipalities.*fn1

Defendants argue that the issues presented in the complaint are not ripe. For Federal Housing Act claims, the Second Circuit has held that when the challenged action is a zoning ordinance, "it is unclear that realistic administrative remedies exist." Huntington Branch, N.A.A.C.P. v. The Town of Huntington, N.Y., 689 F.2d 391, 394 n.3 (2d Cir. 1982). Moreover, courts have also held that "the enactment of [a] new Local Law is tantamount to a final denial of [a] special use permit." Sunrise Dev., Inc. v. The Town of Huntington, N.Y., 62 F. Supp. 2d 762, 770 (E.D.N.Y. 1999). Here, no exhaustion requirements are mandated under the FHA. Accordingly, the defendants' motion is DENIED on this ground.

Defendants' argument that the Burford abstention doctrine should apply is also without merit because federal courts have routinely reviewed local zoning ordinances under the FHA. See Lynn v. Vill. of Pomona, 373 F. Supp. 2d 418, 426 (S.D.N.Y. 2005); see also LeBlanc-Sternberg v. Fletcher, 67 F.3d 412, 424 (2d Cir. 1995). Accordingly, the defendants' motion is DENIED on this ground.

At this juncture, the issue of individual liability and legislative immunity cannot be determined since the complaint is sufficient as a notice No. 24. pleading, and since further factual development is warranted. Accordingly, defendants' motion is DENIED on this ground.

Defendants' contention that plaintiffs were required to file a notice of claim under N.Y. Gen. Mun. Law § 50-e is also without merit. Courts have limited the application of notice of claim requirements to tort actions. See Dortz v. City of New York, 904 F. Supp. 127, 141 (S.D.N.Y. 1995) (holding that both federal and state courts do not consider claims brought under § 296 tort actions and thus are not subject to § 50-e). Accordingly, the plaintiffs' state law claims are not subject to § 50-e. Therefore, the defendants' motion is DENIED on this ground.

Lastly, the court considered the parties' arguments on the application of New York Human Rights Law § 296(5)(a) to municipalities. While they cite no relevant case law, plaintiffs argue from a policy standpoint that § 296 should be extended to the discriminatory practices of local entities. They contend that this extension would be consistent with the national anti-discriminatory purpose espoused under the FHA.*fn2 At this juncture, the court deems it premature to rule on this issue. Therefore defendants' motion on this basis is DENIED with leave to renew.

WHEREFORE, it is hereby ORDERED that defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings (Dkt. No. 24) is DENIED; and it is further

ORDERED that the clerk provide a copy of this Order to the parties.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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