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Baez v. New York City Department of Transportation

United States District Court, S.D. New York

June 15, 2015

MARTIN BAEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY, AND NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

LORNA G. SCHOFIELD, District Judge.

Plaintiff Martin Baez brings this case against Defendants New York City Department of Transportation ("DOT"), Metropolitan Transportation Authority ("MTA"), and New York City Transit Authority ("NYCT") alleging the conversion of the M60 bus line to an express route violated the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. Defendants have moved for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). For the reasons below, Defendants' motions are granted.

I. BACKGROUND

The following facts are based on Plaintiff's Complaint, uncontested documents attached to or incorporated by reference in the Complaint, undisputed facts in Defendants' Answers, and documents of which the Court takes judicial notice. Plaintiff commenced this action pro se and is now represented by counsel.

Plaintiff Martin Baez is a "disabled Black Dominican, wheelchair user, who lives in Community Board 10 who has a need and desire to use the M60 Bus to the airport." Community Board 10 covers central Harlem, and its boundaries along 125th Street are Saint Nicholas Avenue on the west and Fifth Avenue on the east.

Plaintiff, initially proceeding pro se, commenced this action on behalf of himself and a putative class of senior and/or disabled bus riders against Defendants DOT, MTA, and NYCT by Complaint dated April 8, 2014. The Complaint sought injunctive and declaratory relief barring Defendants from converting the M60 bus line to an express M60 Select Bus Service ("M60 SBS"), which went into effect on or around May 25, 2014.[1] The Complaint asserts that this conversion discriminated against Plaintiff and bus riders who are Black, Latino, elderly and/or disabled by eliminating several bus stops and creating offset traffic lanes.

In Community District 10, the conversion to the M60 SBS eliminated the following stops: (1) 125th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard; (2) 125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard; and (3) 125th Street and Fifth Avenue. Consequently, the M60 SBS would make two stops, rather than five stops, in Community District 10: (1) 125th Street and Saint Nicholas Avenue; and (2) 125th Street and Lenox Avenue.

The conversion to the M60 SBS also involved creating offset lanes dedicated to buses and right turns along 125th Street. The offset lanes are one lane away from the curb, and the lane next to the curb is used for parking and bus stops. The conversion also includes: (1) lengthening bus stops to make it easier for buses to get to the curb; (2) using off-board fare payment; and (3) updating parking regulations. Defendants assert that these changes were made to ease congestion on 125th Street and reduce travel time on the M60, which was one of the busiest bus routes on 125th Street.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

The Court reviews motions for judgment on the pleadings brought pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure under the same standard as Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss. Bank of N.Y. v. First Millennium, Inc., 607 F.3d 905, 922 (2d Cir. 2010). The Court accepts as true all of the nonmoving party's well-pleaded factual allegations and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. See Standard Inv. Chartered, Inc. v. Nat'l Ass'n of Sec. Dealers, Inc., 637 F.3d 112, 115 (2d Cir. 2011). A complaint does not "suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s]' devoid of further factual enhancement.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (alteration in original) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 557 (2007)). Judgment on the pleadings may be granted "where material facts are undisputed and where a judgment on the merits is possible merely by considering the contents of the pleadings." Sellers v. M.C. Floor Crafters, Inc., 842 F.2d 639, 642 (2d Cir. 1988).

On a Rule 12(c) motion, the Court may consider "the complaint, the answer, any written documents attached to them, ... any matter of which the court can take judicial notice for the factual background of the case[, ]... any written instrument attached... as an exhibit, materials incorporated... by reference, and documents that, although not incorporated by reference, are integral" to the pleadings. L-7 Designs, Inc. v. Old Navy, LLC, 647 F.3d 419, 422 (2d Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted). Judicial notice may be taken of material that is a matter of public record. See Blue Tree Hotels Inv. (Canada), Ltd. v. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., 369 F.3d 212, 217 (2d Cir. 2004); accord Oneida Indian Nation v. New York, 691 F.2d 1070, 1086 (2d Cir. 1982) (holding that judicial notice of "law, legislative facts, or factual matters that are incontrovertible" are admissible).

III. DISCUSSION

A. The ADA Claims

The Complaint fails to state a claim for discrimination under the ADA. Title II of the ADA covers discrimination in the provision of public services and is "divided into Parts A and B: Part A governs public services generally, and Part B governs the provision of public transportation services." Noel v. N.Y.C. Taxi & Limousine Comm'n, 687 F.3d 63, 68 (2d Cir. 2012) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). To state a claim under Title II of the ADA, Plaintiff must establish that: (1) he is a qualified individual with a disability; (2) the Defendants are subject to the ADA; and (3) Plaintiff was denied the opportunity to participate in or benefit from Defendants' services, programs, or activities, or was otherwise discriminated against by Defendants, by reason of his disability. Disabled in Action v. Bd. of Elections in City of New York, 752 F.3d 189, 196-97 (2d Cir. 2014). "[T]he phrase services, programs, ...


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