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Wendel v. State

May 4, 2007

DOROTHY A. WENDEL, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A CLASS REPRESENTATIVE FOR ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STATE OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES, AND NANCY A. NAPLES, IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS COMMISSIONER OF THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joseph F. Bianco, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Dorothy Wendel ("Wendel") brings this action against the State of New York, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles ("DMV"), and the Commissioner of the DMV, Nancy A. Naples (collectively, "defendants"), alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131, 12132. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that a New York State statute regarding special license plates for disabled persons violates her rights under the ADA. (Compl. ¶ 1.)

Defendants move to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion is granted. The complaint is dismissed without prejudice to plaintiff filing an amended complaint.

I. THE FACTS

The facts are drawn from the complaint and taken as true for the purposes of this motion.

Plaintiff Wendel has a disability known as Spastic Diaplegic Cerebral Palsy which significantly impairs her mobility and requires her to use a wheelchair and other mobility aids. At some point prior to 2005, Wendel obtained from the DMV a set of special license plates for her car that indicate that she is a disabled person.

In August 2005, Wendel purchased a second vehicle - a van - and applied to the DMV for a set of special plates for that vehicle as well. However, the DMV denied Wendel's application, pursuant to New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 404-a ("Section 404-a"), because she already had one set of special plates. Section 404-a provides, in relevant part:

The commissioner [of the DMV] is hereby empowered to issue to [severely disabled] persons, upon their application, . . . one set of vehicle identification plates for motor vehicles owned by such persons.

N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 404-a (emphasis added).*fn1

Plaintiff filed the complaint in this case on September 12, 2006. Defendants moved to dismiss on January 24, 2007. Oral Argument was held on April 19, 2007.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

In reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must accept the factual allegations set forth in the complaint as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Cleveland v. Caplaw Enterp., 448 F.3d 518, 521 (2d Cir. 2006); Nechis v. Oxford Health Plans, Inc., 421 F.3d 96, 100 (2d Cir. 2005). A complaint should be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) "`only if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of [her] claim which would entitle him to relief.'" Overton v. Todman & Co., CPAs, P.C., 478 F.3d 479, 483 (2d Cir. 2007) (quoting Rombach v. Chang, 355 F.3d 164, 169 (2d Cir. 2004) (internal quotation marks omitted)). The appropriate inquiry is "not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Twombly v. Bell Atl. Corp., 425 F.3d 99, 106 (2d Cir. 2005).

III. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff asserts that Section 404-a, on its face, is invalid because it denies plaintiff the benefit of using "public highways and other motor vehicle facilities" in violation of the ADA.*fn2 (Pl.'s Mem. at 7.) Specifically, plaintiff asserts that Section 404-a, as written, "substantially impair[s]" her ability "to own and operate multiple motor vehicles," also in violation of the ADA. (Compl. ΒΆ 22.) As set forth below, the Court ...


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