269 F.Supp. 880 (S.D.N.Y. 1967), 67 Civ. 1540, Lamont v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles

Docket Nº67 Civ. 1540.
Citation269 F.Supp. 880
Party NameCorliss LAMONT, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff, v. COMMISSIONER OF MOTOR VEHICLES and R. L. Polk & Co., Defendants.
Case DateJune 22, 1967
CourtUnited States District Courts, 2nd Circuit, Southern District of New York

Page 880

269 F.Supp. 880 (S.D.N.Y. 1967)

Corliss LAMONT, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,

v.

COMMISSIONER OF MOTOR VEHICLES and R. L. Polk & Co., Defendants.

No. 67 Civ. 1540.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

June 22, 1967

Page 881

Rabinowitz & Boudin, New York City, for plaintiff; Leonard B. Boudin, Joan Goldberg, New York City, of counsel.

Louis J. Lefkowitz, Atty. Gen. of State of New York, New York City, for defendant, Commissioner of Motor Vehicles; Mortimer Sattler, Asst. Atty. Gen., of counsel.

Royall, Koegel, Rogers & Wells, New York City, for defendant, R. L. Polk & Co.; Wyllys S. Newcomb, John M. O'Hara, Russell H. Beatie, Jr., New York City, of counsel.

OPINION

FRANKEL, District Judge.

Suing for himself 'and all other owners of motor vehicles duly registered' in New York, plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief based upon the asserted unconstitutionality of N.Y. Vehicle and Traffic Law, McKinney's Consol.Laws, c. 71, § 202(3), which provides that the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles.

'may, in his discretion, contract with the highest responsible bidder to furnish copies of records of all vehicle registrations for any registration period, or number of periods not exceeding five years in the aggregate, with respect to a given territory. In such event, the fees provided by this section (for searching and supplying copies of such records) shall not apply to copies of records furnished under any such contract.'

The defendants are the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles and R. L. Polk & Co., which is said to be in the business, inter

Page 882

alia, of compiling directories and is alleged to have acquired the registration records as 'the highest responsible bidder' under the statute. In addition to seeking a declaration that § 202(3) is unconstitutional under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments, along with an injunction 'restraining the enforcement and operation' of the statute, plaintiff asks for a judgment of $10,000 against defendant Polk. The court's jurisdiction is said to rest upon 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1343(3), 2201, 2202, 2281, and 2284; 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and the foregoing Amendments to the Federal Constitution.

Plaintiff has moved for the convening of a three-judge court under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2281 and 2284. 1 Defendants oppose the motion, urging that the asserted constitutional issue is 'plainly unsubstantial,' Ex parte Poresky, 290 U.S. 30, 32, 54 S.Ct. 3, 78 L.Ed. 152 (1933); cf. Bailey v. Patterson, 369 U.S. 31, 82 S.Ct. 549, 7 L.Ed.2d 512 (1962), and that the complaint should, accordingly, be dismissed by a single judge.

The allegations generating these opposing views-- taken as true, of course, for present purposes-- are: that plaintiff and others like him are compelled to register their motor vehicles with the Commissioner; that defendant Polk, having acquired the registration records, uses the names itself, or sells or leases the lists to others, 'for the solicitation through the mails, by telephone and in person, of the registered owners of vehicles, for the purchase of merchandise;' and that the result has been 'considerable annoyance, inconvenience and damage to the plaintiff and other registrants by reason of the large volume of advertising and crank mail and other solicitation to which they are subjected.' Defendants' actions and the provisions of § 202(3), the complaint concludes, 'are in violation of the right of privacy of the plaintiff and other registrants, and constitutes (sic) deprivation of their liberty and property under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.' 2

In support of the view that the constitutional issue he raises is sufficiently substantial to warrant the attention of a three-judge court, plaintiff's able counsel presents written argument which reads in its entirety as follows:

'The substantiality of the constitutional question raised by the complaint in this case is shown by the recent cases dealing with the sanctity of a man's home and the privacies of life. Griswold v. Conn., 381 U.S. 479 (85 S.Ct. 1678, 14 L.Ed.2d 510); Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (81 S.Ct. 1684, 6 L.Ed.2d 1081); Breard v. (City of) Alexandria, 341 U.S. 622 (71 S.Ct. 920, 95 L.Ed. 1233); Public Utilities Comm'n v. Pollack, (sic) 343 U.S. 451 (72 S.Ct. 813, 96 L.Ed. 1068); Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167 (81 S.Ct. 473, 5 L.Ed.2d 492); Frank v. (State of) Maryland, 359 U.S. 360 (79 S.Ct. 804, 3 L.Ed.2d 877); Skinner v. (State of) Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535 (62 S.Ct. 1110, 86 L.Ed. 1655).' 3

To be sure, brevity, a somewhat rare delight in courthouses, is not to be discouraged by equating it with 'unsubstantiality.' It should also be observed that counsel argued engagingly, and at considerably greater length, in oral support of the view that expanding judicial concern for 'the privacies of life' shows enough movement in the law to preclude dismissal of his complaint as frivolous.

Page 883

In the end, however, plaintiff's single sentence of written argument, followed by the citation of seven cases, among which one hurts him and six are inapposite, may fairly be taken as the legal measure of his novel claim.

It would be pedantic to linger over the many distinctions between this case and those involving searches and seizures (Mapp v. Ohio, supra; Monroe v. Pape, supra; cf. Frank v. State of Maryland, supra 4 ), the sanctity of the marital relationship (Griswold v. Connecticut, supra), the power of States to limit solicitation (Breard v. City of Alexandria, supra), and laws for compulsory sterilization (Skinner v. State of Oklahoma, supra). The citation closest to the mark in plaintiff's list is Public Utilities Comm'n v. Pollak, and that is adverse to him. There, the dispute was over governmental approval of radio broadcasts, including commercial messages, to the captive audiences in publicly franchised...

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32 practice notes
  • 331 N.W.2d 184 (Mich. 1982), 65596, Tobin v. Michigan Civil Service Com'n
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court of Michigan
    • December 23, 1982
    ...(1969); Timberlane Regional Education Ass'n v. Crompton, 114 N.H. 315, 319 A.2d 632 (1974). See also Lamont v. Comm'r of Motor Vehicles, 269 F.Supp. 880 (SD NY, 1967), holding that the federal right of privacy does not prohibit the State of New York from selling to the highest bidder names ......
  • 652 N.E.2d 1351 (Ill.App. 1 Dist. 1995), 1-92-3944, Dwyer v. American Exp. Co.
    • United States
    • Illinois United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • June 30, 1995
    ...of privacy. The court considered a Federal district court case from New York, Lamont v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles (S.D.N.Y.1967), 269 F.Supp. 880, aff'd (2d Cir.1967) 386 F.2d 449 cert. denied (1968), 391 U.S. 915, 88 S.Ct. 1811, 20 L.Ed.2d 654, to be insightful. In Lamont, the plainti......
  • 669 S.W.2d 215 (Mo. 1984), 65167, Ryan v. Kirkpatrick
    • United States
    • Missouri United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • April 16, 1984
    ...vehicle registration lists, presumably to be used by others for solicitation purposes. See Lamont v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, 269 F.Supp. 880 (S.D.N.Y.1967), aff'd 386 F.2d 449 (2d Cir.1967), cert. denied, 391 U.S. 915, 88 S.Ct. 1811, 20 L.Ed.2d 654 (1968), holding the sale by the st......
  • Privacy and power: computer databases and metaphors for information privacy.
    • United States
    • Stanford Law Review Vol. 53 Nbr. 6, July 2001
    • July 1, 2001
    ...is to tap a small source of much-needed revenue by offering a convenient `packaging' service." Lamont v. Comm'r of Motor Vehicles, 269 F. Supp. 880, 883 (S.D.N.Y. 1967). (230.) 72 F.3d 1133 (3d Cir. 1995). (231.) Id. at 1136. (232.) Id. at 1139-40. (233.) John Schwartz, DoubleClick Tak......
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27 cases
  • 331 N.W.2d 184 (Mich. 1982), 65596, Tobin v. Michigan Civil Service Com'n
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court of Michigan
    • December 23, 1982
    ...(1969); Timberlane Regional Education Ass'n v. Crompton, 114 N.H. 315, 319 A.2d 632 (1974). See also Lamont v. Comm'r of Motor Vehicles, 269 F.Supp. 880 (SD NY, 1967), holding that the federal right of privacy does not prohibit the State of New York from selling to the highest bidder names ......
  • 652 N.E.2d 1351 (Ill.App. 1 Dist. 1995), 1-92-3944, Dwyer v. American Exp. Co.
    • United States
    • Illinois United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • June 30, 1995
    ...of privacy. The court considered a Federal district court case from New York, Lamont v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles (S.D.N.Y.1967), 269 F.Supp. 880, aff'd (2d Cir.1967) 386 F.2d 449 cert. denied (1968), 391 U.S. 915, 88 S.Ct. 1811, 20 L.Ed.2d 654, to be insightful. In Lamont, the plainti......
  • 669 S.W.2d 215 (Mo. 1984), 65167, Ryan v. Kirkpatrick
    • United States
    • Missouri United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • April 16, 1984
    ...vehicle registration lists, presumably to be used by others for solicitation purposes. See Lamont v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, 269 F.Supp. 880 (S.D.N.Y.1967), aff'd 386 F.2d 449 (2d Cir.1967), cert. denied, 391 U.S. 915, 88 S.Ct. 1811, 20 L.Ed.2d 654 (1968), holding the sale by the st......
  • 321 N.E.2d 791 (Ohio Com.Pl. 1974), 915246, Shibley v. Time, Inc.
    • United States
    • Ohio Court of Common Pleas of Ohio
    • May 14, 1974
    ...to others might be an invasion of privacy in itself. Another such case is Lamont v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles (D.C., S.D.N.Y.1967), 269 F.Supp. 880, affirmed, 2 Cir., 386 F.2d 449. In this case, plaintiff alleged that he, and others like him, who are compelled to register their motor v......
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5 books & journal articles
  • Privacy and power: computer databases and metaphors for information privacy.
    • United States
    • Stanford Law Review Vol. 53 Nbr. 6, July 2001
    • July 1, 2001
    ...is to tap a small source of much-needed revenue by offering a convenient `packaging' service." Lamont v. Comm'r of Motor Vehicles, 269 F. Supp. 880, 883 (S.D.N.Y. 1967). (230.) 72 F.3d 1133 (3d Cir. 1995). (231.) Id. at 1136. (232.) Id. at 1139-40. (233.) John Schwartz, DoubleClick Tak......
  • Technologies of control and the future of the First Amendment.
    • United States
    • William and Mary Law Review Vol. 53 Nbr. 2, November 2011
    • November 1, 2011
    ...a ban on advertisement of contraceptives). (156.) Bolger, 463 U.S. at 71. (157.) Id. at 72 (quoting Lamont v. Comm'r of Motor Vehicles, 269 F. Supp. 880, 883 (S.D.N.Y.), aff'd summarily, 386 F.2d 449 (2d Cir. 1967)); accord Fla. Bar v. Went for It, Inc., 515 U.S. 618, 631 (1995) (quoting Bo......
  • The mechanics of First Amendment audience analysis.
    • United States
    • William and Mary Law Review Vol. 55 Nbr. 5, May - May 2014
    • May 1, 2014
    ...463 U.S. 60, 61 (1983). (248.) Id. at 62. (249.) Id. at 68-69. (250.) Id. at 72. (251.) Id. (quoting Lamont v. Comm'r of Motor Vehicles, 269 F. Supp. 880, 883 (S.D.N.Y. 1967), aff'd, 386 F.2d 449 (2d Cir. 1967), cert, denied, 391 U.S. 915 (1968)). (252.) Id. at 75. (253.) See Fla. Bar v. We......
  • Sealed With an Acquittal: When not Guilty Means Never Having to Say You Were Tried
    • United States
    • Capital University Law Review Nbr. 32-1, October 2003
    • October 1, 2003
    ...(Ky. 1966) (tax record); Rome Sentinel Co. v. Boustedt, 252 N.Y.S.2d 10 (1964) (death certificate); Lamont v. Comm'r of Motor Vehicles, 269 F.Supp. 880 (S.D.N.Y. 1967), aff'd, 386 F.2d 449 (2d Cir. 1967), cert. denied, 391 U.S. 915 (1968) (vehicle registration). [127] See Neff v. Time, Inc.......
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