Peruta v. City of Hartford

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
Decision Date24 August 2012
Docket NumberCIVIL ACTION NO. 3:09-cv-1946 (VLB)
PartiesEDWARD A. PERUTA, on behalf of himself and other persons similarly situated, PLAINTIFFS, v. CITY OF HARTFORD, DEFENDANT.
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION GRANTING DEFENDANT CITY OF HARTFORD'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [Dkt. # 52]

The Plaintiff, Edward A. Peruta, brings this action for an injunction on behalf of himself and other persons similarly situated to enjoin the operation of the Pay and Display Parking Meter System (hereinafter the "P&D System") in Hartford, Connecticut, and to prohibit and restrain the Defendant, the City of Hartford (hereinafter "the City"), from issuing parking citations and collecting fines and penalties for failure to deposit funds in parking pay stations installed by the City as part of the P&D System. The Plaintiff also seeks compensatory and punitive damages. The Plaintiff alleges that the P&D System violates his rights under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments and Article VI, Section II of the United States Constitution as enforced by 42 .U.S.C. § 1983, claiming deprivation of his rights to substantive (Count 1) and procedural due process (Count 2) in connection with his right to travel, violations of the Supremacy Clause (Count 3), false arrest and malicious prosecution (Court 5). In addition, the Plaintiff asserts a state law claim for violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 42-110b et seq. ("CUTPA") (Count 4). Beforethe Court is the City's Motion for Summary Judgment as to all of Plaintiff's claims as stated in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. For the reasons stated below, the Court construes the Motion for Summary judgment as a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. The Court agrees with the City of Hartford that Plaintiff cannot state a claim for which relief can be granted, and for that reason, Plaintiff's present action as to all claims is accordingly DISMISSED and the Court GRANTS Defendant's dispositive motion.

Facts

Before setting forth the factual background, the Court notes that in support of its Motion for Summary Judgment, the City of Hartford submitted a Local Rule 56(a)1 Statement with a total of two numbered paragraphs, both of which cited solely to the unverified Amended Complaint which fails to satisfy the requirements under Local Rule 56(a)3. [Dkt. # 52-2]. Local Rule 56(a)3 requires that "[e]ach statement of material fact by a movant in a Local Rule 56(a)1 Statement . . . must be followed by a specific citation to (1) the affidavit of a witness competent to testify as to the facts at trial and/or (2) evidence that would be admissible at trial." Local Rule 56(a)3. The unverified Amended Complaint is not an affidavit or evidence that would be admissible at trial and is therefore insufficient to support a motion for summary judgment. Further, the City's arguments on its motion for summary judgment are based on the Amended Complaint's allegations and therefore the Court construes the City's Motion for Summary Judgment as a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. The following facts are provided as alleged by Plaintiff in the Amended Complaint. [Dkt. # 32].

The City of Hartford is a Connecticut municipality as defined under General Statutes §§ 7-148(a), 7-202, having the power to establish regulations for on-street parking. [Id. at ¶ 9]. The Municipal Code of the City of Hartford ("Municipal Code") defines a "parking meter" as "a mechanism having a visible time indicator, a coin-receiving and a coin-actuating mechanism, all enclosed and mounted on top of a post." Municipal Code, § 22-1. [Dkt. # 32, Amended Complaint at ¶ 1]. In 2008, the Hartford Parking Authority ("HPA") implemented the replacement of coin operated parking meters with a "Pay and Display Parking Meter System" ("P&D System") which accepts multiple forms of payment through parking pay stations serving multiple parking spaces. [Id. at ¶ 2].

Plaintiff alleges that the City, the HPA acting in the City's name and in accordance with the City's delegation of statutory power to the HPA, and Central Parking System of Connecticut, Inc. ("Central Parking"), under authority delegated by the HPA in the City's name and in accordance with the City's delegation of statutory power to the HPA, by and through three individual Parking Controllers employed by the City and twelve individual Parking Enforcement Officers employed by Central Parking, in the implementation, maintenance, and operation of the P&D System, exceeded applicable statutory powers to enforce parking regulations, as codified in ordinances passed by the Hartford Court of Common Council ("City Council"), and failed to meet the national uniform standards for traffic control devices, as supplemented by state standards, for providing notice of traffic laws and regulations." [Id. at ¶ 3].

Plaintiff Edward A. Peruta conducts business in the City of Hartford and purports to bring this action on behalf of himself as "representative of the class of persons receiving notice that a vehicle owned or operated by Plaintiff or such members of the class has been parked unlawfully in a single parking space subject to the P&D System." [Id. at ¶ 4].

The regulation of the City's on-street parking is codified in the Municipal Code at Chapter 22, "Motor Vehicles and Parking."[Id. at ¶ 10]. Section 22-61 of the Municipal Code authorizes the City's traffic authority to regulate on-street parking. It specifically authorizes the authority to install parking meters, designate parking meter zones, fix the zone parking fees and times, designate the hours during which the use of parking meters shall be required. [Id. at ¶ 11].

The Hartford City Council has the sole authority to amend the parking regulations including amending the Municipal Code, § 22-26(a). The City Council passed an ordinance on May 26, 2009, approving an increase in on-street parking fines and penalties. [Id. at ¶ 12].

The HPA assumed responsibility for enforcement of the City's parking regulations on or about February 15, 2006, specifically the assumption of all parking-related duties of the traffic engineer as delineated in Chapter 22 of the Municipal Code, including the authority to use parking meters to regulate and control on-street parking. [Id. at ¶ 13]. The HPA exercises all powers in the name of the City in accordance with Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-204. [Id. at ¶ 14].

In 2005, the HPA published a Request for Proposals (RFP) to privatize the management and operation of on-street parking in the City throughimplementation of a Comprehensive and Integrated On-Street Parking and Citation Management System ("On-Street Parking System"). [Id. at ¶ 18]. Central Parking System of Connecticut, Inc. is a Tennessee corporation engaged in the business of parking management authorized to do business in Connecticut with its principal place of business located in Knoxville, Tennessee. [Id. at ¶ 17]. The HPA, acting in the name of the City, awarded Central Parking a five-year contract to implement, operate, and maintain the On-Street Parking System ("Contract"). [Id. at ¶¶ 19-20]. The Parking Enforcement Officers employed by Central Parking and the Parking Controllers employed by the City of Hartford implemented the P&D System at all times alleged under the Amended Complaint, under the authority of Municipal Code, §§ 22-25(a), 22-26, by attaching to a vehicle alleged as parked in violation of a City ordinance or regulation a notice to the owner or operator thereof stating that such vehicle has been parked unlawfully and assessing fines and penalties. [Id. at ¶ 22-27].

Plaintiff alleges that "[t]raffic control devices are defined as all signs, signals, markings, and other devices used to regulate, warn, or guide traffic, placed on, over, or adjacent to a street, highway, pedestrian facility, or bikeway by authority of a public agency having jurisdiction," and that the "purpose of traffic control devices, as well as the principles for their use, is to promote highway safety and efficiency by providing for the orderly movement of all road users on streets and highways throughout the United States." [Id. at ¶¶ 28-29]. Plaintiff alleges that "[t]raffic control devices notify road users of regulations and provide warning and guidance needed for the reasonably safe, uniform, andefficient operation of all elements of the traffic stream." [Id. at ¶ 30]. Plaintiff further alleges that "[r]egulatory signs provide notice of traffic laws or regulations, including laws and regulations regarding parking," and that "[s]igns that regulate the parking of vehicles are regulatory and must contain legible reference to applicable regulations and conform to the standards of shape, color, and location for regulatory traffic control device signs." [Id. at ¶¶ 31-32].

Plaintiff alleges that the U.S. Secretary of Transportation decrees that traffic control devices on all streets and highways be in "substantial conformance" with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices ("MUTCD"), which is approved by the Federal Highway Administration ("FHWA") as the "national standard" for the design and application of all traffic control devices. [Id. at ¶¶ 33-34]. Plaintiff alleges that the Connecticut State Traffic Commission (STC) supplements MUTCD with sections 14-298-500 through 14-298-554, inclusive, of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies. [Id. at ¶¶ 35-36]. Plaintiff further notes that the City of Hartford regulates and collects revenues from parking meters and enforces rules regarding meters and on-street parking throughout the City under the authority of Municipal code § 10-1 and Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-207a, and as provided in Chapter 22 of the Municipal code. [Id. at ¶¶ 37-38].

Plaintiff also alleges that Section 2B-40 of MUTCD

requires that parking signs state applicable regulations and conform to the national uniform standards of shape, color, dimensions, legends, illumination or reflectorization, and
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