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Robert Selevan, Anne Rubin v. New York Thruway Authority and John L. Buono

November 28, 2011

ROBERT SELEVAN, ANNE RUBIN, DAVID TALARICO AND SAMUEL TAUB, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
NEW YORK THRUWAY AUTHORITY AND JOHN L. BUONO, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. Introduction

Plaintiffs Robert Selevan, Anne Rubin, David Talarico and Samuel Taub*fn1 commenced this action against defendants New York Thruway Authority (NYTA) and John L. Buono, in his official capacity as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the NYTA, asserting claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the Commerce Clause, the Privileges and Immunities and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, and Article I of the New York State Constitution. (Am. Compl., Dkt. No. 45.) Pending are defendants' motion for summary judgment and plaintiffs' motions to certify a class and to appoint class counsel. (See Dkt. Nos. 48, 49, 73.) For the reasons that follow, defendants' motion is granted, and plaintiffs' motions are denied.

II. Background*fn2

A. Factual History

Grand Island, New York is located in the Niagara River between the United States and Canada. (Defs.' Statement of Material Facts ("SMF") ¶ 17, Dkt. No. 48, Attach. 4.) With the exception of public transportation or boat, the only means of entering or leaving Grand Island is via the Grand Island Bridge (GIB). (Id. ¶ 21.) The GIB is actually comprised of two independent bridges; the northern and southern spans connect Grand Island to Niagara Falls and Tonawanda, New York, respectively. (Id. ¶ 18.) Neither span comprises an actual border crossing between the United States and Canada, and use of the GIB is not the only method by which localities to the north and south of Grand Island may access one another.

(Id. ¶¶ 19-20.)

The GIB is maintained and operated by the NYTA, a public corporation, which sets the bridge's tolling rates. (Id. ¶ 5.) In July 1980, the NYTA implemented a discounted tolling rate for residents of Grand Island. (Id. ¶ 23.) Individuals who prove that their vehicle is held in the name of a Grand Island resident, and not a "business entity, non-profit, religious, charitable or educational entity," are entitled to a discounted rate of 9 cents per trip (resident rate), as opposed to the standard fare of $1.00 per trip (passenger rate). (Id. ¶¶ 25, 30.) The NYTA also offers a discounted fee of 28 cents per trip for non-resident commuters as part of a 20-trip monthly plan (commuter rate).*fn3 (Id. ¶ 30.)

Plaintiffs Robert Selevan and Anne Rubin, both non-residents of Grand Island, paid the passenger rate of $1.00 to traverse the GIB at an unspecified date after March 6, 2000 during a trip through New York and New Jersey. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 5-6, Dkt. No. 45.) Plaintiffs David Talarico and Samuel Taub, also non-residents of Grand Island, regularly crossed the GIB during the same period, but paid the preferential commuter rate.

(Id. ¶¶ 7-8.)

B. Procedural History

On May 4, 2006, defendants moved to dismiss this action on multiple grounds, after which plaintiffs Selevan and Rubin filed an Amended Complaint. (Dkt. Nos. 6, 20.) In a January 18, 2007 memorandum-decision and order, this court granted defendants' renewed motion and dismissed Selevan and Rubin's Amended Complaint in its entirety. (Dkt. No. 26.) On October 15, 2009, the Second Circuit affirmed this court's dismissal of Rubin's claim under the Privilege and Immunities Clause of Article IV, vacated the remainder of the January 18 decision and order, and remanded the case for further proceedings. Selevan v. New York Thruway Auth., 584 F.3d 82 (2d Cir. 2009).

On April 29, 2010, Selevan and Rubin filed a permissible second Amended Complaint, adding plaintiffs Talarico and Taub. (Dkt. No. 45.) Both plaintiffs and defendants filed motions on February 1, 2011; plaintiffs sought to certify the class while defendants ...


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