96 F.3d 600 (2nd Cir. 1996), 1450, United States v. City of Yonkers

Docket Nº:1450, 1451, Dockets 95-6182, 95-6206.
Citation:96 F.3d 600
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, Yonkers Branch--National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. CITY OF YONKERS; Yonkers Community Development Agency; and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Samuel Pierce, Secretary, Defendants, Yonkers Board of Education, Defendant-Appellant, The Sta
Case Date:September 23, 1996
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Page 600

96 F.3d 600 (2nd Cir. 1996)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff,

Yonkers Branch--National Association for the Advancement of

Colored People, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,


CITY OF YONKERS; Yonkers Community Development Agency; and

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,

Samuel Pierce, Secretary, Defendants,

Yonkers Board of Education, Defendant-Appellant,

The State of New York; George E. Pataki, as Governor of the

State of New York; Board of Regents of the State of New

York; Martin C. Barell; R. Carlos Carballada; Adelaide L.

Sanford; Willard A. Genrich; Emlyn I. Griffith; Jorge L.

Battista; Lora Bradley Chodos; Louise P. Matteoni; Edward

Meyer; Floyd S. Linton; Salvadore Sclafini; Mimi Levin

Lieber; Shirley C. Brown; Norma Gluck; Thomas Frey;

James McCabe, Sr., in their official capacities as members

of the State Board of Regents; Department of Education of

the State of New York; Thomas Sobol, as Commissioner of

Education of the State of New York; Urban Development

Corporation of the State of New York; Vincent Tese, as

Director of the Urban Development Corporation, Defendants-Appellees.

Nos. 1450, 1451, Dockets 95-6182, 95-6206.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

September 23, 1996

Argued April 11, 1996.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 602

Michael H. Sussman, Goshen, NY, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Steven J. Routh, Washington, DC (Daniel B. Kohrman, Paul A. Minorini, Hogan & Hartson, Washington, DC, Lawrence W. Thomas, Anderson, Banks, Curran & Donoghue, Mt. Kisco, NY, on the brief), for Defendant-Appellant.

Marion R. Buchbinder, Assistant Attorney General, New York City (Dennis C. Vacco, Attorney General of the State of New York, Victoria A. Graffeo, Solicitor General, Barbara Gott Billet, Deputy Solicitor General, Nancy A. Spiegel, Stephen M. Jacoby, Assistant Attorneys General, New York City, on the brief), for Defendants-Appellees.

Before: KEARSE and ALTIMARI, Circuit Judges, and MORAN, District Judge. [*]

KEARSE, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiffs-appellants National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, et al. ("NAACP"), and defendant Yonkers Board of Education ("Board of Education" or "Board"), a cross-claimant (collectively "plaintiffs"), appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Leonard B. Sand, Judge, dismissing their complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq. ("Title VI"), and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974, 20 U.S.C. § 1701 et seq. ("EEOA"), against defendants The State of New York ("New York State") and various of its officials and agencies, including the Governor and the New York Board of Regents (collectively the "State"), and the New York State Urban Development Corporation and its director (collectively "UDC"). Plaintiffs contended that the housing and school segregation previously found to exist in the City of Yonkers ("Yonkers" or the "City") in violation of the Constitution and federal statutory law, see 624 F.Supp. 1276 (S.D.N.Y.1985), aff'd, 837 F.2d 1181 (2d Cir.1987), cert. denied,

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486 U.S. 1055, 108 S.Ct. 2821, 100 L.Ed.2d 922 (1988), was contributed to by the State and UDC and that those defendants should assist in remedying the vestiges of that segregation. The district court, although finding that the State and UDC had failed to take effective action despite the fact that they knew or should have known of the de jure segregation in Yonkers, concluded principally that plaintiffs' complaint must be dismissed on the grounds that their claims were foreclosed by this Court's decision in Arthur v. Nyquist, 573 F.2d 134 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 860, 99 S.Ct. 179, 58 L.Ed.2d 169 (1978), and that the claims against UDC were barred by the statute of limitations. On this appeal, plaintiffs challenge the court's legal conclusions. For the reasons that follow, we conclude that plaintiffs' claims are not foreclosed by Arthur v. Nyquist, and we accordingly vacate the judgment and remand for further proceedings.


The early history of this litigation and the events leading to it have been explored extensively in prior published opinions of this Court and the district court. The action, charging housing and school segregation in violation of the Equal Protection Clause and various federal civil rights statutes, was commenced by the United States in 1980, was joined by NAACP, and was pursued as a class action against the City, the Board, and the Yonkers Community Development Agency. After a lengthy trial, the district court found those defendants liable for intentional discrimination in housing and education, see 624 F.Supp. 1276 (1985) ("Yonkers I "), fashioned remedial orders, see 635 F.Supp. 1538 and 1577 (1986) ("Yonkers II "), and entered judgment accordingly. This Court affirmed the judgment of the district court in all respects. See 837 F.2d 1181 (1987) ("Yonkers III "), cert. denied, 486 U.S. 1055, 108 S.Ct. 2821, 100 L.Ed.2d 922 (1988). Familiarity with those opinions is assumed.

At the time of those decisions, the State and UDC were not parties to the action.

  1. The Addition of the State and UDC as Defendants

    In 1987, NAACP moved to add the State and UDC as parties defendant. The Board, which the district court found had by then, "[a]s a result of [the Board's] good faith and zealous implementation" of the district court's 1986 remedial order, "achieved desegregation of enrollments among the schools," 833 F.Supp. 214, 216 (1993) ("Yonkers IV ") (internal quotation marks omitted), sought leave to file a cross-claim against the State and UDC. NAACP and the Board alleged that while the Board's implementation of the court's remedial order had had an immediate inter-school desegregative effect, it would not be effective either (a) to eliminate, to the extent practicable, inequalities in the educational program, intra-school segregation, and other vestiges of the prior unlawful segregation in Yonkers, or (b) to maintain desegregation. Plaintiffs contended that the State and UDC had known of the de jure segregation in Yonkers; had nonetheless, in response to pressures they knew to be race-related, failed to take effective action to eliminate that segregation and had contributed to it; and should be compelled to assist in eliminating the vestiges of that segregation. After holding the motions in abeyance pending plaintiffs' attempts to obtain the State's consensual assistance, the district court in 1989 granted the motion to add the State and UDC as defendants.

    After several unsuccessful attempts by the State and UDC, both in the district court and on appeal, to have the case against them dismissed summarily, the district court held trials on the questions of (a) whether unaddressed vestiges of unlawful segregation continued to exist in the Yonkers schools, and (b) if so, whether and to what extent the State and UDC were liable. In its vestiges decision, rendered after a three-week trial in 1993, the court defined "vestige of segregation" as "a policy or practice which is traceable to the prior de jure system of segregation and which continues to have discriminatory effects," Yonkers IV, 833 F.Supp. at 218-19, and found that vestiges of segregation remained in the Yonkers schools, noting, inter alia, "that although minority students in

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    Yonkers attend school in the same buildings as majority students, they are undergoing different educational experiences," id. at 225. The court found that compliance with the existing remedial orders would be inadequate to eliminate the vestiges of segregation.

    The vestiges decision was not embodied in a final judgment and the State's immediate appeal seeking review of that decision was dismissed. The merits of the vestiges decision are not before us on this appeal.

    In 1994, the court held a six-week trial on whether or not the State and UDC should be held liable for Yonkers's unlawful school segregation and its vestiges. Plaintiffs contended, inter alia, that those defendants were liable because (1) State education officials knew that de jure segregation existed and was increasing in Yonkers schools but took no steps to prevent or remedy that segregation; (2) State education officials failed to implement established New York State policy which required eradication of even de facto segregation, and their conduct was motivated by racially-based community and political opposition to that policy; and (3) UDC, though initially proposing scattered-site family-housing construction that would have lessened housing segregation in Yonkers, capitulated to what it knew to be race-based community and City pressure and participated in placing all of its subsidized family-housing projects in the already predominantly minority southwest section of the City, see, e.g., Yonkers III, 837 F.2d at 1240-41 (Appendices A and B), thereby exacerbating school segregation. In support of their contentions, plaintiffs presented evidence of, inter alia, the knowledge of the State and UDC of segregation and related inequalities in Yonkers; defendants' knowledge of the motivations of local officials and their constituents in opposing desegregation; and the power of the State to take steps to achieve desegregation, including the authority conferred on its Commissioner of Education ("Commissioner") by N.Y. Educ. Law § 310 (McKinney 1995) to initiate quasi-judicial proceedings sua sponte to enforce New York's education policies.

    The court received thousands of exhibits and received testimony from more than 30 witnesses, including members and former members of the New York Board of Regents, a former Commissioner, a former...

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