Ingerman v. Delaware River Port Authority, Civil No. 08-5117.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
Writing for the CourtRodriguez
Citation630 F.Supp.2d 426
PartiesPeter Zilahy INGERMAN, Plaintiff, v. DELAWARE RIVER PORT AUTHORITY, Defendant.
Decision Date30 June 2009
Docket NumberCivil No. 08-5117.
630 F.Supp.2d 426
Peter Zilahy INGERMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
DELAWARE RIVER PORT AUTHORITY, Defendant.
Civil No. 08-5117.
United States District Court, D. New Jersey.
June 30, 2009.

Page 427

COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

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Frederic J. Gross, Esq., Mt. Ephraim, NJ, for Plaintiff.

Roxanne Leander La Roc, Esq., Delaware River Port Authority, Camden, NJ, for Defendant.

OPINION

RODRIGUEZ, Senior District Judge:


This matter comes before the Court on motion of Defendant Delaware River Port Authority ("Defendant" or "DRPA" where appropriate) to dismiss Plaintiff Peter Zilahy Ingerman's Complaint in lieu of answer pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff opposes Defendant's motion and cross moves for partial summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a). The central issue in this case is whether the DRPA is in violation of Section 7 of the Privacy Act of 1974 by including the disclosure of one's social security number ("SSN") as a prerequisite for membership in its E-ZPass Senior Citizen Program ("the Program" where appropriate). Additionally, the Court must determine whether the DRPA violated Plaintiff's equal protection and due process rights by denying him membership in the Program solely because he refused to disclose his social security number.

In his prayer for relief, Plaintiff demands that the DRPA be permanently enjoined from rejecting an applicant for its E-ZPass Senior Citizen Program solely because of refusal to disclose his or her SSN. Plaintiff also demands damages in the amount of half his E-ZPass tolls accumulated since he first submitted his application for membership. Finally, Plaintiff seeks attorneys fees, costs, interests, and such other relief that this Court deems appropriate.

I. Facts

The facts are not in dispute. Defendant Delaware River Port Authority is a bi-state agency. See N.J. Stat. Ann. § 32:3-1; 36 P.S. § 3503 ("a single agency of both States"). The DRPA was created by parallel enactments of the State of New Jersey and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania followed by an Act of Congress which approved the parallel enactments as an interstate compact ("Compact"). See id. Article VIII of the Compact, codified at N.J. Stat. Ann. § 32:3-9; 36 P.S. § 3588, vests the DRPA with power to levy and collect tolls, among other things, for the interstate bridges that it owns and operates between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. (Id. at ¶ 5.)

Recently, the DRPA created the E-ZPass Senior Citizen Program. (Pl. Ex. A.) This Program allows persons over the age of sixty-five years who use E-ZPass as the method of paying bridge tolls to pay a reduced or discounted toll rate when crossing the DRPA's bridges. (Id.) The toll rate is set at fifty percent of the standard rate. (Id.) In order to avail oneself of this Program, one must have attained the age of sixty-five and have a New Jersey E-ZPass account. (Id.) Additionally, and significant for purposes of this case, one must provide the DRPA with his or her SSN. (Id.)

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Plaintiff Peter Zilahy Ingerman, Ph.D., ("Plaintiff" or "Ingerman"), applied for the Program on September 7, 2008. (Id.) After completing the application form—sans disclosure of his SSN—he submitted it to the DRPA. (Compl. at ¶ 8.) Ingerman also submitted a photocopy of his passport containing his date of birth. (Id. at ¶ 8.) Based solely on the fact that Ingerman did not disclose his SSN on the application form, he was refused membership in the Program. (Id. at ¶ 9.) A DRPA employee confirmed the basis of DRPA. Ingerman thereafter received an instruction form in the mail which read in relevant part:

To register for this Program, you must complete the application on the reverse, and include your Social Security Number.

(Id.)

Ingerman's counsel, Frederic J. Gross, Esq., subsequently wrote a letter to the General Counsel of the DRPA on October 3, 2008, complaining that the aforesaid requirement violated Section 7 of the Privacy Act of 1974. (Id. at ¶ 10; Pl. Ex. B.) Included in that letter was the relevant portion of the Privacy Act which provides:

It shall be unlawful for any Federal, State or local government agency to deny to any individual any right, benefit or privilege provided by law because of such individual's refusal to disclose his social security account number.

(Pl. Ex. B) (quoting Privacy Act of 1974, Pub. L. 93-579, 88 Stat.1909, 5 U.S.C. § 552a (2004) (note)). Also included in that letter was notification that, if Ingerman was not allowed into the Program within thirty days, a suit would be brought against the DRPA. (Pl. Ex. B.)

Responding by letter on October 8, 2008, Assistant General Counsel of the DRPA, Roxanne Leander La Roc, Esq., took issue with the charge that the DRPA was in violation of the Privacy Act. (Pl. Ex. C.) She stated in relevant part,

The Act makes it unlawful for a Federal, State or local government agency to deny any individual any right, benefit or privilege provided by law because of such individual's refusal to disclose his social security account number. Participation in DRPA's EZ-Pass [sic] Senior Citizen Program is not a right, benefit, or privilege provided by law. Therefore, DRPA is permitted to require that Mr. Ingerman provide is [sic] social security number in order to participate in the program.

(Id.) Plaintiff commenced this litigation shortly thereafter on October 17, 2008. (Dkt. Entry No. 1.)

II. Standards
A. Motion to Dismiss

A complaint should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) if the alleged facts, taken as true, fail to state a claim. Fed. R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); see In re Warfarin Sodium, 214 F.3d 395, 397-98 (3d Cir.2000). Although "detailed factual allegations" are not necessary, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the `grounds' of his `entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of a cause of action's elements will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (internal citations omitted). Thus, a motion to dismiss should be granted unless the plaintiff's factual allegations are "enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all of the complaint's allegations are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Id. (internal citations omitted).

When deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), only the allegations in the complaint, matters of public record, orders, and exhibits attached to the complaint, are taken into consideration. See Chester County Intermediate Unit v. Pa.

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Blue Shield, 896 F.2d 808, 812 (3d Cir. 1990). A district court must accept as true all allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom. See Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 (3d Cir.1994). These allegations and inferences must be viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id. However, the Court need not accept "`unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences,'" Baraka v. McGreevey, 481 F.3d 187, 195 (3d Cir.2007) (citation omitted), and "[l]egal conclusions made in the guise of factual allegations ... are given no presumption of truthfulness." Wyeth v. Ranbaxy Labs., Ltd., 448 F.Supp.2d 607, 609 (D.N.J.2006) (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286, 106 S.Ct. 2932, 92 L.Ed.2d 209 (1986)); see also Kanter v. Barella, 489 F.3d 170, 177 (3d Cir.2007) (quoting Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 351 (3d Cir.2005) ("[A] court need not credit either `bald assertions' or `legal conclusions' in a complaint when deciding a motion to dismiss.")).

It is not necessary for the plaintiff to plead evidence. Bogosian v. Gulf Oil Corp., 561 F.2d 434, 446 (3d Cir.1977). The question before the Court is not whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail. Watson v. Abington Twp., 478 F.3d 144, 150 (2007). Instead, the Court simply asks whether the plaintiff has articulated "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955.

B. Summary Judgment

"Summary judgment is proper if there is no genuine issue of material fact and if, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Pearson v. Component Tech. Corp., 247 F.3d 471, 482 n. 1 (3d Cir.2001) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986)); accord Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Thus, this Court will enter summary judgment only when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).

An issue is "genuine" if supported by evidence such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A fact is "material" if, under the governing substantive law, a dispute about the fact might affect the outcome of the suit. Id. In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must view the facts and all reasonable inferences drawn from those facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986).

Initially, the moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Once the moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party must identify, by affidavits or otherwise, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id.; Maidenbaum v. Bally's Park Place, Inc., 870 F.Supp. 1254, 1258 (D.N.J.1994). Thus, to withstand a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the...

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4 practice notes
  • Gonzalez v. Vill. of West Milwaukee, No. 10–2356.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • February 14, 2012
    ...the district court here—have adhered to § 7's plain language. See Schwier, 340 F.3d at 1288–89; Ingerman v. Del. River Port Auth., 630 F.Supp.2d 426, 437–38 (D.N.J.2009).5 Schwier and Ingerman rely on United States v. Welden, 377 U.S. 95, 84 S.Ct. 1082, 12 L.Ed.2d 152 (1964), a case that ex......
  • Houck v. Ferrari, Civil No. 12–1010 NLH/JS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • October 22, 2014
    ...liable under Section 7 of the Federal Privacy Act, that claim fails as a matter of law. See Ingerman v. Delaware River Port Authority, 630 F.Supp.2d 426, 446 (D.N.J.2009) (explaining that Section 7 of the Privacy Act). Any claim based on plaintiffs' alleged violation of their Miranda rights......
  • Gonzalez v. Village of West Milwaukee, No. 10-2356
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • February 2, 2012
    ...the district court here—have adhered to § 7's plain language. See Schwier, 340 F.3d at 1288-89; Ingerman v. Del. River Port Auth., 630 F. Supp. 2d 426, 437-38 (D.N.J. 2009).5 Schwier and Ingerman rely on United States v. Welden, 377 U.S. 95 (1964), a case that exposes the flaws in the Sixth......
  • Cal. Pawnbrokers Ass'n, Inc. v. Carter, No. 2:16-cv-02141-JAM-KJN
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • November 7, 2016
    ...an authority required that individual to give their SSN in order to receive a right or privilege. Ingerman v. Del. River Port Auth., 630 F. Supp. 2d 426 (D. N.J. 2009) (senior citizen required to provide SSN for senior citizen discount program); Stollenwerk v. Miller, No. Civ.A. 04-5510, 20......
4 cases
  • Gonzalez v. Vill. of West Milwaukee, No. 10–2356.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • February 14, 2012
    ...the district court here—have adhered to § 7's plain language. See Schwier, 340 F.3d at 1288–89; Ingerman v. Del. River Port Auth., 630 F.Supp.2d 426, 437–38 (D.N.J.2009).5 Schwier and Ingerman rely on United States v. Welden, 377 U.S. 95, 84 S.Ct. 1082, 12 L.Ed.2d 152 (1964), a case that ex......
  • Houck v. Ferrari, Civil No. 12–1010 NLH/JS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • October 22, 2014
    ...liable under Section 7 of the Federal Privacy Act, that claim fails as a matter of law. See Ingerman v. Delaware River Port Authority, 630 F.Supp.2d 426, 446 (D.N.J.2009) (explaining that Section 7 of the Privacy Act). Any claim based on plaintiffs' alleged violation of their Miranda rights......
  • Gonzalez v. Village of West Milwaukee, No. 10-2356
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • February 2, 2012
    ...the district court here—have adhered to § 7's plain language. See Schwier, 340 F.3d at 1288-89; Ingerman v. Del. River Port Auth., 630 F. Supp. 2d 426, 437-38 (D.N.J. 2009).5 Schwier and Ingerman rely on United States v. Welden, 377 U.S. 95 (1964), a case that exposes the flaws in the Sixth......
  • Cal. Pawnbrokers Ass'n, Inc. v. Carter, No. 2:16-cv-02141-JAM-KJN
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • November 7, 2016
    ...an authority required that individual to give their SSN in order to receive a right or privilege. Ingerman v. Del. River Port Auth., 630 F. Supp. 2d 426 (D. N.J. 2009) (senior citizen required to provide SSN for senior citizen discount program); Stollenwerk v. Miller, No. Civ.A. 04-5510, 20......

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