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West v. Doccs

United States District Court, W.D. New York

January 23, 2018

JAMES A. WEST A/K/A WESS, Plaintiff,
v.
DOCCS, Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          HON. FRANK P. GERACI, JR. CHIEF JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff James West a/k/a James Wess (“Plaintiff'), commenced this action alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (“Rehabilitation Act”), and various federal Constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. ECF. No. 29.

         Currently pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. ECF No. 153.

         BACKGROUND

         This matter has a convoluted history spanning nearly thirteen years. As of July 31, 2017, one claim survived Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. The remaining claim asserted violation of the ADA and Rehabilitation Act on the basis that Defendant failed to provide Plaintiff with a requested reasonable accommodation in connection with his service on the Inmate Grievance Committee. ECF Nos. 102, 115.

         Following unsuccessful attempts at mediation, see ECF No. 121, a trial on the ADA/Rehabilitation Act claim was scheduled for January 22, 2018.

         On December 29, 2017, Defendant sent Plaintiff an Offer of Judgment in the amount of $500.00 pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 68, which Plaintiff rejected.

         During the final pre-trial conference on January 16, 2018, Plaintiff's counsel informed the Court that Plaintiff would move forward seeking only nominal damages. On January 19, 2018, Defendant delivered to Plaintiff's counsel one dollar in United States currency. ECF No. 156-1 at 4-5. Defendant argues that as of January 19, 2018, there is no longer a case in controversy because it has tendered the full payment of nominal damages to Plaintiff's counsel for the benefit of Plaintiff. It requests that the Court enter judgment against DOCCS in the amount of one dollar ($1.00). ECF No. 153.

         In connection with the pending motion, the parties appeared telephonically on January 19, 2018. At that time Plaintiff did not oppose dismissal or object to entry of judgment against DOCCS in the amount of one dollar ($1.00), but rather reserved his right to appeal his previously-dismissed claims pursuant to this Court's July 31, 2017, Decision and Order granting partial summary judgment in favor of Defendant. See ECF No. 115.

         For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is granted.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Subject-Matter Jurisdiction

         “If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). A court must ensure at all times that it has subject- matter jurisdiction because any ruling or judgment issued without it would be only hypothetical in nature. See Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't,523 U.S. 83, 101 (1998). One factor that can deprive a court of subject-matter jurisdiction is the absence of a live controversy. “To qualify as a case fit for federal-court adjudication, an actual controversy must be extant at all stages of review, not ...


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