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Carver v. City of New York

March 31, 2009

WALTER E. CARVER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, A BODY CORPORATE AND ORDER AND POLITIC; MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS MAYOR OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK; NEW YORK CITY HUMAN RESOURCES ADMINISTRATION AND DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES, AN AGENCY OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK; ROBERT DOAR, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS ADMINISTRATOR AND COMMISSIONER OF THE NEW YORK CITY HUMAN RESOURCES ADMINISTRATION AND DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES; NEW YORK CITY HEALTH AND HOSPITALS CORPORATION, A NEW YORK CORPORATION; ALAN D. AVILES, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE NEW YORK CITY HEALTH AND HOSPITALS CORPORATION; NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, AN AGENCY OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK; JANETTE SADIK-KAHN, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS COMMISSIONER OF THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sifton, Senior Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Walter E. Carver commenced this putative class action on September 10, 2008, against the City of New York (the "City"); Michael R. Bloomberg, individually and in his official capacity as Mayor of the City of New York, New York City Human Resources Administration and Department of Social Services ("HRA"); Robert Doar, individually and in his official capacity as Administrator and Commissioner of HRA; New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation ("HHC"); Alan D. Aviles, individually and in his official capacity as President and Chief Executive Officer of HHC; New York City Department of Transportation ("DOT"); and Janette Sadik-Khan, individually and in her official capacity as Commissioner of DOT (collectively, the "City Defendants"). Plaintiff asserts claims of (1) violation of the Takings Clause of (i) the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and (ii) Article 1, § 7 of the New York State Constitution; (2) deprivation of equal protection of the laws in violation of (i) the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and (ii) Article 1, § 11 of the New York State Constitution; (3) deprivation of due process of law in violation of (i) the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and (ii) Article 1, § 6 of the New York State Constitution; (4) failure to pay the minimum wage, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, 29 U.S.C.A. §§ 201 et seq.; (5) failure to pay the minimum wage, in violation of New York State Labor Law § 652; (6) failure to provide adequate notice of right to review a lottery intercept, in violation of New York Tax Law § 1613-b; (7) unspecified deprivations of plaintiff's civil rights, privileges, and immunities, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as liquidated damages, attorney's fees, costs, and interest. Presently before this Court is the City Defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) (lack of standing), 12(b)(6) (failure to state a claim), and 12(b)(7) (failure to join a necessary party). For the reasons that follow, the City Defendants' motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are drawn from the Complaint filed in connection with this matter, as well as documents incorporated by reference therein and public documents of which this Court may take judicial notice. See Kramer v. Time Warner, Inc. 937 F.2d 767, 773 (2d Cir. 1991) (district court may consider "documents attached to the complaint as exhibits or incorporated in the complaint by reference" on motion to dismiss); Cortec Indus., Inc. v. Sum Holding L.P., 949 F.2d 42, 47-48 (2d Cir. 1991) (authorizing district court review of public documents on motion to dismiss, particularly where plaintiff has notice of such documents). For the purposes of this motion, plaintiff's allegations are accepted as true, and all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of plaintiff as the nonmoving party. Patel v. Searles, 305 F.3d 130, 135 (2d Cir. 2002).

Plaintiff is a 62-year-old citizen of the United States and the State of New York, and a regular purchaser of New York State Lottery tickets in Kings County, New York. Compl. ¶¶ 4, 20.

Defendants HRA, HHC, and DOT are agencies of defendant City conducting business in Brooklyn, New York. Id. ¶¶ 7-11.

From 1993 to March of 2000, plaintiff participated in the New York City Work Experience Program ("WEP").*fn1 Id. ¶ 20. As a WEP participant, plaintiff was assigned to work at Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, which is managed by defendant HHC, and the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in Manhattan, New York, which is managed by defendant DOT.*fn2 Id. ¶ 21. Plaintiff was required to work at least 35 hours a week for the City Defendants, and was paid according to the hours he worked. Id. If plaintiff did not work, he was not paid. Id. For his work, plaintiff received $176.00 every two weeks. Id. Plaintiff alleges that his biweekly salary, plus the value of his food stamps, equaled no more than the federal and New York State minimum wage. Id. ¶ 22.

On August 10, 2007, plaintiff won $10,000 from the New York State Lottery. Id. ¶ 23. When plaintiff attempted to claim his prize, however, he was informed that half of the $10,000 was being withheld because he had participated in the WEP program. Id. ¶ 24. A Notice from the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance ("OTDA"), dated September 10, 2007 and addressed to plaintiff, states as follows:

Our records indicate the you have received public assistance at sometime in the past ten years. Section 1613-b of the Tax Law and Section 131-r of the Social Services Law state that if you received public assistance in the past ten years we have the right to take up to 50% of any New York State Lottery prize you have won in the amount of $600.00 or more. You have been identified as a Lottery prize winner, and as stated in the notice you received from the New York State Division of the Lottery, the amount of your lottery prize as indicated below will be credited against the public assistance you have received in the past ten years.

See Declaration of Abigail Goldenberg dated January 9, 2009 ("Goldenberg Decl."), Ex. A (Copy of N.Y. C.P.L.R. Article 78 verified petition filed by plaintiff against various New York State defendants in New York Supreme Court, Kings County), at ¶ 15 (citing September 10, 2007 OTDA notice and attaching copy of notice as Exhibit C to the petition).

On September 27, 2007, plaintiff mailed a request to OTDA for review of OTDA's decition, setting forth the reasons why, according to plaintiff, it was illegal. Compl. ¶ 26. On December 21, 2007, OTDA sent a letter to plaintiff acknowledging receipt of plaintiff's September 27, 2007 letter and reiterating that "[t]he $5,000 intercepted by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance . . . from your client was a partial repayment of public assistance received from September 5, 1997, through March 4, 2000, totaling $10,736.00." Goldenberg Decl., Ex. A (copy of plaintiff's Article 78 Petition), at ¶ 20 (citing OTDA letter of December 21, 2007 and attaching copy of letter as Ex. H to petition). The letter also stated as follows:

[WEP] Work experience is not "employment" and the amount of public assistance an individual receives is not "wages." An individual receives the same amount of public assistance whether he or she is scheduled to participate in work experience, any other public assistance employment activity, or is exempt from employment requirements altogether. As such, the recovery of lottery winnings to reimburse the State for public assistance paid is wholly separate from any work experience assignment in which an individual may have the opportunity to participate.

Id. In addition, the letter conceded that the September 10, 2007 notice sent to plaintiff did not contain the name and telephone number of the individual to contact in case of error, as required by Tax Law § 1613-b(6). Id.; Compl. ¶ 27.

On January 8, 2008, the OTDA notified plaintiff by email that the $5,000 of lottery funds would not be refunded to plaintiff. Compl. ¶ 28; see also Goldenberg Decl., Ex. A, at ¶ 21 (citing January 8, 2008 OTDA email and attaching copy of email as Exhibit I to the petition). Plaintiff states that on information and belief, the $5,000 has been transferred to the City ...


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