O'Day, et al v. Nassau County, et al
ORDER granting in part and denying in part [529, 533] : The motions to intervene are granted. The motions for vacatur of the April Order are denied. The County is directed to provide the updated addresses to the claims administrator within ten (10) days of the date of this Order. See attached Memorandum & Order. Ordered by Judge Denis R. Hurley on 7/26/2017. (Gapinski, Michele) (Main Document 537 replaced on 7/26/2017) (Lundy, Lisa).
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
In re NASSAU COUNTY STRIP
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
A P P E A R A N C E S:
Herbst Law PLLC
420 Lexington Avenue - Suite 300
New York, New York 10170
Robert L. Herbst, Esq.
Nassau County Attorney's Office
Carnell T. Foskey
One West Street
Mineola, New York 11501
Liora M. Ben-Sorek, Esq.
Robert F. Van der Waag, Esq.
For Proposed Intervenors New York State Office of Temporary and Family Disability
Assistance, Office of Children and Family Services and Department of Health
Eric T. Schneiderman
Attorney General, State of New York
120 Broadway, 25th Floor
New York, New York 10271
Barbara D. Underwood, Solicitor General
Steven C. Wu, Deputy Solicitor General
Matthew w. Grieco, Assistant Solicitor General
For Proposed Intervenors United States Departments of Agriculture and Health and
Bridget M. Rohde
Acting United States Attorney
Eastern District of New York
610 Federal Plaza, 5th Floor
Central Islip, New York 11722
By: Mary M. Dickman, AUSA
HURLEY, Senior District Judge:
The purpose of this Memorandum is to address the motions of (1) Proposed Intervenors
New York State Offices of Temporary and Family Disability Assistance (“OTDA”), Office of
Children and Family Services (“OCFS”) and Department of Health (“DOH”) (collectively “NYS
Intervenors”) and (2) Proposed Intervenors United States Departments of Agriculture (“USDA”)
and Health and Human Services (“HHS”) (collectively “USA Intervenors”) to intervene in this
action and for an order vacating the Court’s Order of April 10, 2017 (the “April Order”)1 insofar
as it directs Nassau County Plaintiffs requested access to this information so that the
computerized list of class members can be updated in an effort to locate class members and
provide them with the monetary relief to which they are entitled under the judgment entered in
this action on April 10, 2014.2
By way of background, the April Order addressed an application by the plaintiff class for
the County “to grant access to the electronic database maintained by or available to its
Department of Social Services [“NCDSS”] for the purpose of cross-matching it with the
electronic database of class members to uncover updated contact information for those class
members.” April Order at 1. That application was originally opposed by the County on the
grounds that “access to New York State’s electronic database known as the Welfare Management
System (“WMS”) was granted to NCDSS for the limited purpose of implementing various
That decision is reported at 2017 WL 1322128 (E.D.N.Y 2017).
A brief description of the background of this litigation may be found in In re Nassau
County Strip Search Cases, 639 Fed. App’x. 746 (2d Cir. 2016).
federal and state social services assistance programs and it has no authority to use WMS for any
other purpose or to grant access to any unauthorized third party, including plaintiffs and to do so
would be a violation of federal and state law.” Id. at 4 (internal quotation marks omitted).
Affidavits from the Deputy Counsel to the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
(“OTDA”), the Deputy Assistant Counsel with the New York State Office of Children and
Family Services (successor to the New York State Department of Social Services) and the
Director of the Bureau of Health Insurance Programs within the Division of Legal Affairs of the
New York State Department of Health were submitted in support of the County’s position.
Neither New York State nor any of the cited agencies sought to intervene in this matter. After
considering the positions of the parties, the Court directed the County in the April Order to “run
the names of said class members [i.e. those who had not yet filed claims] and their contact
information through WMS for updated addresses and provide to the Claims Administrator any
updated addresses garnered from WMS and from [Nassau County Corrections Center] records at
the same time.” No deadline for compliance was set.
Thereafter, the Court received an application from the County for a conference.
According to that application, a copy of the April Order was sent to both the County’s
Department of Social Services and the Deputy General Counsel for the OTDA, which agencies
were advised that the County would be complying with the Order. “In response, the State raised a
number of questions regarding the manner in which the search was conducted and noted various
objections.” DE 519 at 2. Despite several communications and conversations, the State has “yet
to withdraw their objections” and rejected a suggestion that “the State social services agencies
conduct the requisite search to satisfy any concerns about the methodology of the search, or in
the alternative, that they intervene in this action and address their concerns about the breadth of
the Court’s Order” “on the basis that State is not a party to this action.” Id. In addition, an e-mail
from the USDA Food & Nutrition Service which states that its “National Office has determined
that Nassau County Social Services cannot legally release this PII [personal identification
information] of SNAP recipients” was forwarded to the County; an “offer to re-run the records
search without any SNAP information” was “rejected by the State.” Id. In an Order dated May 2,
2017 (the “May Order”), the Court denied the request for a conference “[a]s neither New York
State nor the USDA is before this Court, the Court cannot compel their attendance.” May Order
at 2-3. The Court went on to state that “[s]hould either New York State or the USDA wish to be
heard on this matter, the appropriate course would be for them to move to intervene in the action,
which motion, if made, should include the nature of their interest, as well as their specific
objections, and concomitant legal arguments, to the April Order.” The present motions followed.
Applicable Standard - Motion to Intervene
Intervention in a civil action is governed by Rule 24 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Intervention as of right is appropriate when the party seeking to intervene “claims an
interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action, and is so situated
that disposing of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede the movant’s ability to
protect its interest, unless existing parties adequately represent that interest.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
24(a). Permissive intervention by a government agency or officer may be permitted “if a party’s
claim or defense is based on . . . any regulation, order, requirement, or agreement issued or made
under [a] statute or executive order administered by the officer or agency.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
24(b)(B). The party seeking to intervene “bears the burden of demonstrating that it meets all the
requirements for intervention.” Mehedi v. Memry Corp., 2017 WL 2873224, * 4 (D. Conn. July
5, 2017). “In considering a motion to intervene, the court must accept as true the non-conclusory
allegations of the motion . . . .” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).
The Motions to Intervene Are Granted
Here, both the USA Intervenors and the State Intervenors claim an interest in the property
at issue in the present dispute - the WMS database - by virtue of statutes and regulations
governing the disclosure of the information relating to various social service assistance programs
contained on that database.3 Specifically, the USA Intervenors assert that “USDA and HHS
have an interest in the property at issue, viz. the PII contained in the WMS database that
Congress, by statute has required that they protect.” DE 533-1 at p. 6 (citing 7 U.S.C. §
2020(e)(8)(A)-(D); 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(7)(A); 7 C.F.R. 272.1, 42 C.F.R. 431.301). Thus, it
asserts that it is entitled to intervene as of right. However, proposed intervenors do not address
whether Nassau County, as an existing party, adequately represents that interest, a required part
of the intervention as of right analysis. The Court need not address the issue because, as
discussed below, it finds permissive intervention is proper.
Here, Nassau County opposed release of the PII on the WMS database as violative of
State Intervenors describe WMS as the “New York State database for ‘receiving,
maintaining and processing information relating to persons who have applied for or been
determined eligible for benefits’ under public assistance and care programs and SNAP.” State
Intervenors Mem. at 3 (citing N.Y. Soc. Serv. Law (“SSL”) §21(1)).
both state and federal statutes governing the social service assistance programs’ information
contained in the WMS database. These programs are administered by the proposed intervenors.
Permissive intervention by the Federal and State Intervenors is therefore appropriate and said
portions of the present motions are granted.
The Court will now address that portion of the Intervenors’ motions which address the
propriety of the disclosure ordered in the Court’s April Order, beginning with the USA
Disclosure Under the Federal Statutes
The WMS database contains information relating to two federal programs - the
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”), which is overseen by the USDA, and
Medicaid, which is overseen by HHS.
SNAP provides eligible households with an allotment to purchase food pursuant to the
Food and Nutrition Assistance Act (“FNA”). 7 U.S.C. § 2013(a). States that participate in SNAP
must provide a plan of operation for approval to an agency of the USDA and are required to
administer the program in compliance with the FNA and regulations promulgated thereunder. 7
U.S.C. 2020(a)(3), (d), (e); 7 C.F.R. 272.2(a)-(d).
Under the FNA, a state plan of operation “shall provide,” among other things:
safeguards which prohibit the use or disclosure of information
obtained from applicant households, except that-(A) the safeguards shall permit–
(i) the disclosure of such information to persons directly
connected with the administration or enforcement of the
provisions of this chapter, regulations issued pursuant to
this chapter, Federal assistance programs, or
federally-assisted State programs; and
(ii) the subsequent use of the information by persons
described in clause (i) only for such administration or
(B) the safeguards shall not prevent the use or disclosure of such
information to the Comptroller General of the United States for
audit and examination authorized by any other provision of law;
(C) notwithstanding any other provision of law, all information
obtained under this chapter from an applicant household shall be
made available, upon request, to local, State or Federal law
enforcement officials for the purpose of investigating an alleged
violation of this chapter or any regulation issued under this chapter;
(D) the safeguards shall not prevent the use by, or disclosure of
such information, to agencies of the Federal Government
(including the United States Postal Service) for purposes of
collecting the amount of an over issuance of benefits, as
determined under section 2022(b) of this title, from Federal pay
(including salaries and pensions) as authorized pursuant to section
5514 of Title 5 or a Federal income tax refund as authorized by
section 3720A of Title 31;
(E) notwithstanding any other provision of law, the address, social
security number, and, if available, photograph of any member of a
household shall be made available, on request, to any Federal,
State, or local law enforcement officer if the officer furnishes the
State agency with the name of the member and notifies the agency
(i) the member–
(I) is fleeing to avoid prosecution, or custody or
confinement after conviction, for a crime (or
attempt to commit a crime) that, under the law of
the place the member is fleeing, is a felony (or, in
the case of New Jersey, a high misdemeanor), or is
violating a condition of probation or parole imposed
under Federal or State law; or
(II) has information that is necessary for the officer
to conduct an official duty related to subclause (I);
(ii) locating or apprehending the member is an official duty;
(iii) the request is being made in the proper exercise of an
official duty; and
(F) the safeguards shall not prevent compliance with paragraph
(15) or (18)(B) or subsection (u) . . . .
7 U.S.C. §2020(e)(8).
Regulations governing requirements for participating state agencies provide that:
(1) Use or disclosure of information obtained from SNAP applicant
or recipient households shall be restricted to:
(i) Persons directly connected with the administration or
enforcement of the provisions of the Food and Nutrition Act of
2008 or regulations, other Federal assistance programs,
federally-assisted State programs providing assistance on a
means-tested basis to low income individuals, or general assistance
programs which are subject to the joint processing requirements in
(ii) Persons directly connected with the administration or
enforcement of the programs which are required to participate in
the State income and eligibility verification system (IEVS) as
specified in § 272.8(a)(2), to the extent the SNAP information is
useful in establishing or verifying eligibility or benefit amounts
under those programs;
(iii) Persons directly connected with the verification of
immigration status of aliens applying for SNAP benefits, through
the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE)
Program, to the extent the information is necessary to identify the
individual for verification purposes.
(iv) Persons directly connected with the administration of the Child
Support Program under part D, title IV of the Social Security Act
in order to assist in the administration of that program, and
employees of the Secretary of Health and Human Services as
necessary to assist in establishing or verifying eligibility or benefits
under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act;
(v) Employees of the Comptroller General's Office of the United
States for audit examination authorized by any other provision of
(vi) Local, State, or Federal law enforcement officials, upon their
written request, for the purpose of investigating an alleged
violation of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 or regulation. . . .
(vii) Local, State, or Federal law enforcement officers acting in
their official capacity, upon written request by such law
enforcement officers that includes the name of the household
member being sought, for the purpose of obtaining the address,
social security number, and, if available, photograph of the
household member, if the member is fleeing to avoid prosecution
or custody for a crime, or an attempt to commit a crime, that would
be classified as a felony (or a high misdemeanor in New Jersey), or
is violating a condition of probation or parole imposed under a
Federal or State law. . . . The State agency shall disclose only
such information as is necessary to comply with a specific written
request of a law enforcement agency authorized by this paragraph.
(viii) Local educational agencies administering the National School
Lunch Program . . . for the purpose of directly certifying the
eligibility of school-aged children for receipt of free meals . . . .
(2) Recipients of information released under paragraph (c)(1) of
this section must adequately protect the information against
unauthorized disclosure to persons or for purposes not specified in
7 C.F.R. § 272.1(c).
Title XIX of the Social Security Act provides grants to states for medical assistance
programs for categorically needy persons. State plans for such programs are required to provide
“safeguards which restrict the use or disclosure of information concerning applicants and
recipients to purposes directly connected with (i) the administration of the plan; and (ii) the
exchange of information necessary to certify or verify the eligibility of children for free or
reduced price” meals. 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(A)(7). Medicare regulations require states to
“safeguard” the names and addresses of applicants and beneficiaries, as well as other
enumerated types of information. 42 C.F.R. § 431.305. Moreover, the state “must have criteria
specifying the conditions for release and use of information about applicants and beneficiaries.”
42 C.F.R. § 431.306(a). These “policies must apply to all requests for information from outside
sources, including governmental bodies, the courts or law enforcement officials.” 42 C.F.R. §
431.306(e). And “[i]f a court issues a subpoena for a case record . . . the agency must inform the
court of the applicable statutory provisions, policies, and regulations restricting disclosure of
information.” 42 C.F.R. § 431.306(f).
Federal Intervenors’ Argument
In urging this Court to vacate its April Order, Federal Intervenors argue that the statues
and regulations governing Medicare and SNAP provide for limited disclosure of the PII of
applicants for and beneficiaries of these programs and the disclosure ordered by this Court does
not fall within the parameters of that limited disclosure.
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow for “discovery regarding any nonprivileged
matter that is relevant to a party’s claims or defenses” as well as “[i]n aid of [a] judgment.” Fed.
R. Civ. Pro. 26(b)(1) and 69(a)(2).
The statutes and regulations relied upon by the Federal Intervenors provide for the
confidentiality of PII of applicants and beneficiaries. But the designation of information as
confidential does not necessarily prohibit its disclosure. See Assoc. for Women in Science v.
Califano, 566 F.2d 339, 343-344 (D.C. Cir. 1977). Accord Zambrano v. I.N.S., 972 F.2d 1122,
1125 (9th Cir. 1992), vacated and remanded on other grounds, 113 S. Ct. 3028 (1993); Steinberg
v. Mount Sinai Med. Ctr., Inc., 2014 WL 1311572 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 31, 2014); In re Zyprexa
Prods. Liab. Litig., 254 F.R.D. 50 (E.D.N.Y. 2008); In Re Grand Jury Subpoena Duces Tecum,
2001 WL 896479 (W.D. Va. June 12, 2001); Zaccaro v. 50 East 196th Assoc., L.P., 1997 WL
661905 (S.D.N.Y. 1997); 23 Fed. Prac. & Proc. Evid. § 5437 (1st ed.) (noting that the bulk of
federal statutes do no more than forbid disclosure; privilege from disclosure “can be inferred
from language that makes the information immune from process or providing that a person
cannot be compelled to reveal it”).
There is no doubt here that the information sought is relevant to the execution of the relief
awarded in the judgment. Given the statutorily based confidentiality provisions and the
aforementioned Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, it appears that the appropriate analysis is
whether the information Plaintiffs seek is protected from disclosure by privilege. See, e.g., Assoc.
for Women in Science, 566 F.2d at 344; Steinberg, 2014 WL 1311572, at *3. See generally
Baldrige v. Shapiro, 455 U.S. 345, 360 (1982) (“If a privilege exists, information may be
withheld, even if relevant to the lawsuit and essential to the establishment of plaintiff’s claim.”).
“It is well recognized that a privilege may be created by statute. A statute granting a
privilege is to be strictly construed so as to ‘avoid construction that would suppress otherwise
competent evidence.’” Baldrige, 455 U.S. at 360 (quoting St. Regis Paper Co. v. United States,
368 U.S. 208, 218 (1961)); accord Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. England, 234 F.R.D.
7, 11 (D.D.C. 2006) (“[I]t is well established that courts are to avoid construing confidentiality
provisions in statutes as barring disclosure for discovery purposes unless the statute clearly and
unambiguously requires such suppression.”). Courts have observed that “when Congress has
intended [information] not to be subject to compulsory process it has said so.” St. Regis Paper,
368 U.S. at 218; see also Friedman v. Bache Halsey Stuart Shields, Inc., 738 F.2d 1336, 1343
(D.C. Cir. 1984) (“Congress must ‘clearly’ and ‘strongly’ indicate its intent to contradict th[e]
broad objective favoring disclosure in judicial proceedings,” and “where Congress has thought it
necessary to protect against court use of records, it has expressly so provided by specific
language.”); Freeman v. Seligson, 405 F.2d 1326, 1348–52 (D.C. Cir. 1968). Thus, certain
statutes expressly provide, for example, that various information is “immune from legal process”
and/or “shall not be subject to discovery.” See, e.g., 15 U.S.C. § 2055(e)(2) (2000) (certain
consumer product safety reports “shall be immune from legal process and shall not be subject to
subpoena or other discovery in any civil action in a State or Federal court or in any administrative
proceeding”); 20 U.S.C. § 9573(d)(1)(B) (2000) (“Individually identifiable information . . . shall
be immune from legal process and shall not, without the consent of the individual concerned, be
admitted as evidence or used for any purpose in any action, suit, or other judicial or
administrative proceeding”); 22 U.S.C. § 3144(d) (2000) (foreign investment information “shall
be immune from legal process and shall not be used as evidence or for any purpose in any
Federal, State, or local government action, suit, or other administrative or judicial proceeding
except as necessary to enforce . . . the provisions of . . . this section.”); 23 U.S.C. § 409 (2000)
(certain highway safety data “shall not be subject to discovery or admitted into evidence in a
Federal or State court proceeding or considered for other purposes in any action for damages”);
42 U.S.C. § 3789g(a) (2000) (certain information collected of the Office of Justice Programs
“shall be immune from legal process, and shall not, without the consent of the person furnishing
such information, be admitted as evidence or used for any purpose in any action, suit, or other
judicial, legislative, or administrative proceedings”).
Unlike the foregoing statutes, neither the statutes or regulations relied upon by Federal
Intervenors specifically provides that information is not subject to discovery. Indeed, while the
Medicaid regulations provide that a state’s policies regarding disclosure must apply to courts, it
does not require that the information be shielded from disclosure. Rather, it simply requires that
the agency “inform the court of the applicable statutory provisions, policies, and regulations
restricting disclosure of information.”
USA Intervenors do not address the issue of privilege. Rather they argue that “Courts
analyzing the federal statutes and regulations governing SNAP and Medicaid have authorized
disclosure only in the most limited of circumstances.” USA Intervenors Mem. at 9. In support of
that proposition they cite a number of cases. These cases suggest, however, that disclosure
outside the parameters enumerated in the statutes is permissible, in other words that the
information is not privileged.4 For example, in Hassan v. United States, 2006 WL 681038 (W.D.
Wash. Mar. 15, 2006) merchants challenging their disqualification under the Food Stamp Act for
allegedly unlawful food stamp trafficking sought disclosure of the identities of individuals who
Roberts v. Austin, 632 F.2d 1202, 1214 (5th Cir. 1980), cited by USA Intervenors, is
distinguishable. That court granted a preliminary injunction barring wholesale disclosure of PII
of Food Stamp recipients to a prosecutor where the prosecutor had no basis to suspect fraud.
allegedly trafficked with them. The Hassan court granted a motion to compel, specifically
rejecting the argument that the confidentiality provisions of the Food Stamp Act5 prohibited the
disclosure. Id. at *2-3. See also In re Zyprexa, 254 F.R.D. at 78, 88-89 (ordering disclosure of
de-identified medical records of Medicaid patients prescribed the drug at issue in litigation
seeking damages for unlawful marketing);6 Protection & Advocacy System, Inc. v. Freudenthal,
412 F. Supp. 2d 1211 (D. Wyo. 2006) (authorizing disclosure of PII of Medicaid recipients living
in state institution to corporation designated to assure protection of civil rights of individuals
with mental illness); In re Grand Jury Subpoena Dated Nov. 14, 1989, 728 F. Supp. 368, 369,
374 (W.D. Pa. 1990) (applying a balancing test in denying a motion by the Government to
enforce a subpoena seeking PII of Food Stamp recipients as part of an investigation of a heroin
and cocaine distribution ring).
In sum, Federal Intervenors provide no basis for vacatur of the Court’s April Order.
Disclosure Under State Statutes
State Intervenors rely upon a number of statutes and regulations regarding the
confidentiality of information in the WMS database in addition to those previously discussed.
State Intervenors Mem. at 3-9. It is not necessary to detail each of them, it is sufficient to state
that they provide for the confidentiality of the information of persons applying for benefits and
limit to whom the information may be disclosed. See, e.g., SSL §§ 21(3), 136(2), 459-b, 459-c;
Until 2008, the FNA was known as the Food Stamp Act.
Interestingly, the Zyprexa court noted that the “Notices of Privacy Practices issued by all
the States’ [involved in that litigation] make clear that health information obtained by the
agencies may be disclosed pursuant to court order.” 254 F.R.D. at 58 & n.11 (citing said privacy
42 U.S.C. § 602(a)(1)(A)(iv) (requiring that states, such as New York, that receive funds for
certain public assistance restrict the use and disclosure of information).
With respect to the federal statutes relied upon, as previously discussed those statutes do
not protect against court use of records and courts have ordered disclosure outside the parameters
enumerated in the statutes and regulations. That conclusion applies equally to SSL §§ 21 and
136. As the State Intervenors note, “New York federal and state courts have in several instances
ordered the disclosure of public assistance data for litigation purposes notwithstanding the
confidentiality provision of SSL §§ 21 and 136.” State Intervenors’ Mem at 15. They argue,
however, that the proposed disclosure “is distinguishable from these precedents in at least three
respects (a) the search here is far broader, attempting to obtain the personal information of
thousands of people across data compiled from every public benefit program; (b) there is no
colorable connection at all to a public benefit program; and (c) several categories of information
in the WMS are governed by other confidentiality provisions of federal and state law aside from
SSL §§ 21 and 136.” Id. It is to these arguments that the Court now turns.
That the search here encompasses information of a large number of individuals does not
preclude disclosure. For example, in Zyprexa, disclosure of a “statistically significant sampling”
of de-identified medical records maintained by five state (Connecticut, Louisiana, Mississippi,
Montana and New Mexico) for Medicaid patients who were prescribed the drug at issue was
ordered. 254 F.R.D. at 59. The decision does not disclose the volume of records at issue.
However, other filings in that case indicate that a statistically significant sampling of just one
state would be 4,000. See In re Zyprexa Prod. Liab. Litig., 04-MD-1596 at DE 1937 (Aff. from
New Mexico Official referring to a statistically significant sampling from that state as involving
the records of 4,000 individuals).
Moreover, there are numerous state court cases, some of which are cited in the April
Order, in which disclosure was ordered despite the fact that the request was made in a case
untethered to any public benefit program. See, e.g., Zaccaro v. 50 E. 196th Assocs., 1997 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 23 1997) (granting motion to compel disclosure of social services
files for claimant in action for damages due to injuries sustained as a result of infant claimant’s
ingestion of lead paint on premises on the theory the files might contain information relevant to
an alternative causation defense); W. v. U., 44 A.D.2d 727 (2d Dept. 1974) (holding that putative
father in paternity action was entitled to subpoena welfare department to support his claim that
mother had made inconsistent statements concerning parentage of children); In re Estate of
Robinson, 140 Misc.2d 599 (1988) (in action by mother of decedent to compromise and settle
cause of action for minor decedent, limited access granted to guardian ad litem appointed for
decedent’s father where guardian was not requesting information concerning income or benefits
of recipient but only information relevant to the identity of his ward as demand for identify of
unknown father necessitated minimal intrusion onto confidentiality of records so that guardian
could perform his function): Paine v. Chick, 50 A.D.2d 686 (3d Dept. 1975) (in action for
damages for personal injury and lost wages lower court properly denied motion to quash a
subpoena served on Commissioner of Social Security as it did not jeopardize the real purpose
and function of statute restricting disclosure and was justified as there were no other relevant
The confidentiality provisions of the federal statutes relied on by State Intervenors have
already been addressed. They also point to SSL § 459-h(1) which makes confidential “[t]he street
address of any residential program for victims of domestic violence” which they proffer
“preserves the ability of residential programs to provide security for victims of domestic violence
who may be at serious risk of physical and emotional harm by their partners.” State Intervenors’
Mem. at 21. Certainly, this provision and its purpose would, at the very least, warrant a carefully
nuanced application of a balancing of interests. The Court has been advised, however, that none
of the 5,088 class members for whom updated addresses were found in the WMS represent
residents of domestic violence shelters. See Ex. 1 to Pl.’s Opp. Mem. (email from Nassau County
Attorney Bureau Chief stating there is no such data).
In sum, State Intervenors provide no basis for vacatur of the Court’s April Order.
It is important to reiterate that the purpose of the disclosure authorized by the April Order
is solely to notify the as yet unheard from class members about the monetary relief to which they
are entitled under the judgment in this case. Moreover, that disclosure was limited to obtaining
updated addresses for such class members,7 nothing more. Neither plaintiffs’ counsel, the class
administrator, or even the Court will have access to the database or know from what social
service program or programs the addresses were garnered. The Court directs that the information
is not to be used for any other purpose or otherwise disseminated.
The time for exclusion from the class has long passed. Having failed to be excluded, the
class members whose information is sought are, in a sense, parties to this litigation. Thus the
ordered disclosure is not of information of strangers to this lawsuit.
The motions to intervene are granted. The motions for vacatur of the April Order are
denied. The County is directed to provide the updated addresses to the claims administrator
within ten (10) days of the date of this Order.
Dated: Central Islip, New York
July 26, 2017
/s Denis R. Hurley
Denis R. Hurley
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?