158 F.R.D. 251 (E.D.N.Y. 1994), CV-94-2842 (CPS), Brown v. Giuliani

Docket NºCV-94-2842 (CPS).
Citation158 F.R.D. 251
Opinion JudgeSIFTON, District Judge.
Party NameGeraldine BROWN et alia, Plaintiffs, v. Rudolph W. GIULIANI, etc., et alia, Defendants.
AttorneyBrooklyn Legal Services by John C. Gray, Jr., Mark Cohan, Brooklyn, NY for plaintiffs. Paul A. Crotty, Corp. Counsel of the City of New York by Mari Bebon, Asst. Corp. Counsel, New York City, for City defendants. G. Oliver Koppell, Atty. Gen. of the State of N.Y. by Robert Bacigalupi, Asst. Atty....
Case DateOctober 27, 1994
CourtUnited States District Courts, 2nd Circuit, Eastern District of New York

Page 251

158 F.R.D. 251 (E.D.N.Y. 1994)

Geraldine BROWN et alia, Plaintiffs,

v.

Rudolph W. GIULIANI, etc., et alia, Defendants.

No. CV-94-2842 (CPS).

United States District Court, E.D. New York.

October 27, 1994

Page 252

Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) recipients brought action on behalf of themselves and putative class alleging that New York City failed to process public assistance grants pursuant to AFDC program in timely fashion. Recipients moved for preliminary injunction and class certification. The District Court, Sifton, J., held that: (1) New York City officials would be preliminarily enjoined during pendency of action to ensure that AFDC and Emergency Assistance to Families (EAF) benefits were provided in timely fashion, and (2) putative class satisfied class action requirements and, therefore, would be certified.

Motion granted.

Page 253

Brooklyn Legal Services by John C. Gray, Jr., Mark Cohan, Brooklyn, NY for plaintiffs.

Paul A. Crotty, Corp. Counsel of the City of New York by Mari Bebon, Asst. Corp. Counsel, New York City, for City defendants.

Page 254

G. Oliver Koppell, Atty. Gen. of the State of N.Y. by Robert Bacigalupi, Asst. Atty. Gen., New York City, for State defendants.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

SIFTON, District Judge.

This is an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that New York City fails to process public assistance grants pursuant to the federal Aid for Families with Dependent Children (" AFDC" ) program, 42 U.S.C. §§ 607 et seq., in a timely fashion, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 602(a)(10)(A); 45 C.F.R. §§ 206.10(a)(1), 233.120; N.Y.Soc.Serv.L. §§ 17, 20, 20-a, 34, 112; 18 N.Y.C.R.R. §§ 351.8, 372, 386.1; Amendment XIV to the United States Constitution; and the New York State Constitution, Art. I, § 6, Art. 17, § 1. Jurisdiction exists over the case under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

The matter is currently before the Court on plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction pursuant to Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure seeking an order pending trial requiring the City Defendants to take steps to speed up the processing of claims and restraining these defendants from implementing a cost-cutting measure to redeploy 135 supervisory employees in the New York City Department of Social Services from their current tasks in the processing of claims for AFDC benefits to other areas of the Department's activities.

Plaintiffs also seek a determination that this case may proceed as a class action pursuant to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

In support of and in opposition to the motions, the parties have submitted affidavits, agency records produced in discovery, interrogatory responses, and depositions. Because the underlying facts are essentially undisputed and resolution of those disputes which do exist will not affect plaintiffs' entitlement to the relief awarded, no hearing has been held. Nor is one required. Drywall Tapers & Pointers Local 1974 v. Local 530, 954 F.2d 69 (2d Cir.1992); Fengler v. Numismatic Americana, Inc. v. United States, 832 F.2d 745, 747 (2d Cir.1987); SCM v. Xerox, 507 F.2d 358 (2d Cir.1974); CFTC v. American Bd. of Trade, Inc., 473 F.Supp. 1177, 1178 n. 3 (S.D.N.Y.1979).

For the reasons that follow, plaintiffs' motions for preliminary injunction and for class certification are granted. What follows sets forth the findings of fact and conclusions of law on which the determination to grant these motions is based as required by Rules 65 and 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

THE PARTIES

Plaintiffs are seven individual recipients of assistance pursuant to the AFDC program. They sue on their own behalf and on behalf of a class of New York City residents who have applied for, been found eligible and received assistance under the AFDC program; who have sought an increase in their grant based on a change of need, an increase in eligible family members, or an emergency; and who have not received action on their requests in a timely fashion.

Defendants are the Mayor of the City of New York, Rudolph W. Giuliani; the Commissioner of the City's Department of Social Services (the " City Agency" ); Marva L. Hammons (collectively with the Mayor, the " City Defendants" ); and Michael J. Dowling, the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Social Services (the " State Defendant" ), all sued in their official capacities. No preliminary injunctive relief has been sought at this stage of the proceedings against the State Defendant.

THE REGULATORY SCHEME

AFDC is a federal and state cash assistance program designed to provide ongoing aid to poor families with at least one minor child who has been deprived of parental support or care by reason of death, continued absence from the home, unemployment, or physical or mental incapacity of a parent. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 601 et seq. The program is administered by state governments such as New York according to state plans meeting federal statutory and regulatory criteria, 42 U.S.C. § 602, and by local governments such

Page 255

as New York City in accordance with state and local regulations. Id.

AFDC also includes the Emergency Assistance to Families (" EAF" ) program, a program which is mandatory for any state participating in AFDC. EAF aids families without available resources where immediate assistance is necessary to avoid emergency or unusual crisis situations threatening an infant member of the family with destitution. See C.F.R. § 233.120. In addition, 45 C.F.R. § 233.20(a)(2)(v) authorizes but does not require states to provide federal and state assistance to pay special need items defined by a state AFDC program to all applicants and recipients requiring them. New York State has elected to provide such assistance for special needs including: (1) the additional cost of meals for persons who are unable to prepare meals at home; (2) necessary and essential furniture required for the establishment of a home or to replace furnishing and clothing lost due to a fire, flood or like catastrophe; (3) the repair of heating equipment or household appliances; (4) replacement of lost or stolen checks; (5) money to pay rent, property tax, or mortgage arrears to forestall eviction; and (6) additional needs arising because of pregnancy. See N.Y.C.C.R. § 352.7.1

Both federal and state law establish time constraints on the processing of requests for benefits under AFDC. Federal law provides in this regard that:

aid to families with dependent children shall, subject to paragraphs (25) [relating to income and eligibility verification] and (26) [relating to an applicant's or recipient's cooperation e.g., in establishing paternity and entitlement to third-party payments], be furnished [to recipients] with reasonable promptness.

42 U.S.C. § 602(a)(10)(A). Under federal regulations,

[f]inancial assistance ... included in the plan shall be furnished promptly to eligible individuals without any delay attributable to the agency's administrative process....

45 C.F.R. § 206.10(a)(5)(i).

Where an individual has been determined to be eligible, eligibility shall be reconsidered or redetermined 2 ... (ii) promptly after a report is obtained which indicates changes in the individual's circumstances that may affect the amount of assistance to which he is entitled.3

45 C.F.R. § 206.10(a)(9)(ii).

New York State's regulations make more definite the federal requirement for prompt disposition of requests for a change in benefits arising because of changed circumstances:

(e) When a social services district receives an indication of ... change in degree of need, action shall be taken to review these situations as they occur. An investigation shall be initiated promptly and completed within 30 days.

(f) When a social services district verifies ... an increase in need, action shall be taken immediately to increase the grant

Page 256

for the next payment period possible under the existing payment procedure.4

18 N.Y.C.R.R. § 351.22 (emphasis added).

New York State regulations further provide that an emergency assistance applicant must be given an immediate interview and that eligibility must be determined " immediately." See 18 N.Y.C.R.R. § 372.2; New York State Department of Social Services Administrative Directives 87 ADM-18, 86 ADM-7, and 75 ADM-78.

In New York City, public assistance programs such as AFDC are administered by the City Department of Social Services under the supervision of its Commissioner, defendant Hammons. The City Agency has 39 local sites throughout New York City known as Income Support Centers (" ISC's" ), at which individuals can apply for public assistance and where active cases are managed. An individual or family seeking to apply for public assistance must go in person to an ISC. Once an initial application for assistance has been investigated, eligibility established, needs verified, and benefits granted by the application section of the agency, the applicant becomes a recipient of assistance, and his or her case is transferred to an " undercare" section of the ISC, where the recipient is assigned an individual caseworker known as an eligibility specialist.

Recipients in need of assistance for an additional family member or for a special need must make a request for those benefits with their undercare eligibility specialist. Plaintiffs state and defendants do not dispute that as a matter of practice the City Agency gives recipients the name and telephone number of their eligibility specialist and encourages recipients to mail or telephone their eligibility specialist to request assistance.

When the recipient requests an additional allowance, the eligibility specialist is supposed to...

To continue reading

Request your trial
45 practice notes
  • 191 F.R.D. 329 (D.Conn. 2000), 3:96CV01679 (GLG), Duprey v. Connecticut Dept. of Motor Vehicles
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • March 20, 2000
    ...by plaintiff, this Circuit has traditionally allowed class actions that seek to enjoin governmental action. See, e.g., Brown v. Giuliani, 158 F.R.D. 251, 269 (E.D.N.Y.1994)(collecting Additionally, it appears that the requirements for certification under Rule 23(b)(3) are met. Common issues......
  • 202 F.R.D. 377 (E.D.N.Y. 2001), 00-CV-2229, Nicholson v. Williams
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • August 16, 2001
    ...benefit all class members. See Marisol I, 929 F.Supp. 662, 692 (S.D.N.Y.1996), aff'd, 126 F.3d 372 (2d Cir.1997); Brown v. Giuliani, 158 F.R.D. 251, 269 (E.D.N.Y.1994); Jane B. ex rel. Martin v. New York City Dep't of Social Servs., 117 F.R.D. 64, 71 (S.D.N.Y.1987); Wilder v. Bernstein, 499......
  • 205 F.R.D. 92 (E.D.N.Y. 2001), 00-CV-2229, Nicholson v. Williams
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • August 16, 2001
    ...all class members. See, e.g., Marisol I, 929 F.Supp. 662, 692 (S.D.N.Y.1996), aff'd, 126 F.3d 372 (2d Cir.1997); Brown v. Giuliani, 158 F.R.D. 251, 269 (E.D.N.Y.1994); Jane B. ex rel. Martin v. New York City Dep't of Social Servs., 117 F.R.D. 64, 71 (S.D.N.Y.1987); Wilder v. Bernstein, 499 ......
  • 210 F.R.D. 27 (E.D.N.Y. 2002), Civ. A. 99-CV-8418, Alexander A. ex rel. Barr v. Novello
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • September 12, 2002
    ...in violation of the ADA are at the core of plaintiffs' complaint. Thus, the commonality requirement is met. See Brown v. Giuliani, 158 F.R.D. 251, 268 (E.D.N.Y.1994) (" [T]he existence of factual variations in the types of irreparable injury suffered or in the length of the delay does ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
43 cases
  • 191 F.R.D. 329 (D.Conn. 2000), 3:96CV01679 (GLG), Duprey v. Connecticut Dept. of Motor Vehicles
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • March 20, 2000
    ...by plaintiff, this Circuit has traditionally allowed class actions that seek to enjoin governmental action. See, e.g., Brown v. Giuliani, 158 F.R.D. 251, 269 (E.D.N.Y.1994)(collecting Additionally, it appears that the requirements for certification under Rule 23(b)(3) are met. Common issues......
  • 202 F.R.D. 377 (E.D.N.Y. 2001), 00-CV-2229, Nicholson v. Williams
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • August 16, 2001
    ...benefit all class members. See Marisol I, 929 F.Supp. 662, 692 (S.D.N.Y.1996), aff'd, 126 F.3d 372 (2d Cir.1997); Brown v. Giuliani, 158 F.R.D. 251, 269 (E.D.N.Y.1994); Jane B. ex rel. Martin v. New York City Dep't of Social Servs., 117 F.R.D. 64, 71 (S.D.N.Y.1987); Wilder v. Bernstein, 499......
  • 205 F.R.D. 92 (E.D.N.Y. 2001), 00-CV-2229, Nicholson v. Williams
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • August 16, 2001
    ...all class members. See, e.g., Marisol I, 929 F.Supp. 662, 692 (S.D.N.Y.1996), aff'd, 126 F.3d 372 (2d Cir.1997); Brown v. Giuliani, 158 F.R.D. 251, 269 (E.D.N.Y.1994); Jane B. ex rel. Martin v. New York City Dep't of Social Servs., 117 F.R.D. 64, 71 (S.D.N.Y.1987); Wilder v. Bernstein, 499 ......
  • 210 F.R.D. 27 (E.D.N.Y. 2002), Civ. A. 99-CV-8418, Alexander A. ex rel. Barr v. Novello
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • September 12, 2002
    ...in violation of the ADA are at the core of plaintiffs' complaint. Thus, the commonality requirement is met. See Brown v. Giuliani, 158 F.R.D. 251, 268 (E.D.N.Y.1994) (" [T]he existence of factual variations in the types of irreparable injury suffered or in the length of the delay does ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles