NYTDA, Inc. v. The City Of New York. et al
MEMORANDUM & ORDER: Plaintiff's 47 Motion for Preliminary Injunction and for other equitable relief is DENIED. So Ordered by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on 1/18/2013. (Lee, Tiffeny)
IN CLERK'S OFFICE
U.S. DISTRICT COURT E. D. N.Y.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
NYTDA, INC. alk/a NEW YORK TRUCKING
& DELIVERY ASSOCIATION, individually
and on behalf of all others similarly situated,
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
11-CV-1836 (NGG) (MDG)
-againstTHE CITY OF NEW YORK, ACTING THROUGH
THE TRAFFIC CONTROL DIVISION OF THE
NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT AND
THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF
FINANCE; STEPHEN GOLDSMITH; DAVID M.
FRANKEL; JAMES TULLER; HARRY J. WEDIN;
and JOHN AND JANE DOES 1-10, ALL IN THEIR
NICHOLAS G. GARAUFIS, United States District Judge.
Plaintiff New York Trucking & Delivery Association ("NYTDA") brought this class
action against Defendants City of New York, acting through the Traffic Control Division ofthe
New York City Police Department and the New York Department of Finance; Stephen
Goldsmith; David M. Frankel; James Tuller; Harry J. Wedin; and John and Jane Does 1-10, all in
their official capacities (collectively, "the City"), under 42 U.S.C. § !983 for violations of the
Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. (See Compl. (Dkt. !).)
Plaintiff also alleges violations of the New York State Constitution and state law and seeks
declaratory relief and damages. (See iQJ Before the court is Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary
injunction and other equitable relief. (Pl. Mot. for Prelim. Inj. (Dkt. 47).) Plaintiffs motion is
Plaintiff maintains that the City's implementation and operation of its Stipulated Fine
Program (the "Program") deprived Plaintiff and other putative class members of their right to be
free from unreasonable searches and seizures and right to property and due process in violation
of the United States Constitution, the New York State Constitution, and New York contract law.
(Compl. '1!'1!160-74.) Plaintiff seeks to recoup $5 million oflosses and seeks an estimated $50
million of damages for all class members, as well as rescission and return of all fines collected
under the illegal parking scheme. (!d. '1!'1!151, 160-74.) Plaintiff also seeks and declaratory and
permanent injunctive relief. (See id.)
After appearing, the City filed a motion styled as a motion to dismiss the Complaint for
failure to state a claim. (See City's First Mot. to Dismiss (Dkt. 15).) The court denied the City's
motion because the City "primarily dispute[ d) the truth of the plaintiffs allegations rather than
the sufficiency of the complaint," as evidenced by the affidavits it attached to its motion. (Nov.
19,2011, Order (Dkt. 27).) The City answered (Answer (Dkt. 38)) and the parties proceeded
with discovery. Plaintiff then filed a motion for a preliminary injunction asking that the court
"issue an Order prohibiting the City from engaging in any further retaliatory actions or conduct
against NYTDA or any of its members or other class members." (See Pl. Mem. in Supp. of Mot.
for Prelim. lnj. (Dkt. 48) at 21.) Attached to its motion, Plaintiff included the declaration of Ken
Thorpe, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer ofNYTDA. (See Dec!. of Ken Thorpe in
Supp. of Pl. Mot. for Prelim. Inj. (Dkt. 49) ("Thorp Dec!.").) The City opposed this motion, (see
City Opp'n to Mot. for Prelim. lnj. (Dkt. 51)), and it is now before the court.
MOTION FOR A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
Plaintiff has moved for a preliminary injunction: (1) enjoining Defendants from
retaliating against NYTDA or any other proposed class member for bringing this lawsuit; and
(2) enjoining the City from enforcing its newly adopted enrollment policy for admission into the
Program. (See Pl. Mot. for Prelim. Inj.) According to Plaintiff, since it brought the lawsuit, the
City has retaliated against Plaintiff and its members by sending threatening "dunning" letters to
members demanding payment for outstanding parking violations and has changed various
policies within the Program, causing its members to suffer various financial consequences and,
in some instances, essentially to be denied enrollment in the Program. (See Thorp Dec!. ~~ 1520.) Plaintiff argues that it is entitled to this relief under the All Writs Act and Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure 23(d) (governing class actions), 26(c) (governing protective orders in discovery),
and 65 (providing for entry of injunctive relief). (See Pl. Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Prelim. Inj.)
The City opposes this motion primarily by disputing the factual allegations underlying
Plaintiffs motion, but also arguing that Plaintiff fails to show entitlement to a preliminary
injunction. (See City Opp'n to Mot. for Prelim. lnj.) For the reasons explained below, the court
concludes that Plaintiff has not demonstrated entitlement to the preliminary injunction.
"To obtain a preliminary injunction, the moving party must demonstrate '(I) irreparable
harm absent injunctive relief; (2) either a likelihood of success on the merits, or a serious
question going to the merits to make them a fair ground for trial, with a balance of hardships
tipping decidedly in the plaintiffs favor; and (3) that the public's interest weighs in favor of
granting an injunction."' Red Earth LLC v. United States, 657 F.3d 138, 143 (2d Cir. 2011)
(citation omitted); see also Singas Famous Pizza Brands Com. v. N.Y. Adver. LLC, 468 F.
App'x 43, 43 (2d Cir. Mar. 19, 20 12). This court has "wide discretion in determining whether to
grant a preliminary injunction," which is "one of the most drastic tools in the arsenal of judicial
remedies." Grand River Enter. Six Nations. Ltd. v. Pryor, 481 F.3d 60, 66 (2d Cir. 2007)
(citations omitted). "When, as here, the preliminary injunction will affect government action
taken in the public interest pursuant to a statutory or regulatory scheme, it should be granted only
if the moving party meets the more rigorous likelihood-of-success standard." Red Earth, 657
F.3d 138 (citation omitted).
Article III of the United States Constitution limits the power of the federal judiciary to
decide "cases and controversies," which means that a party invoking federal jurisdiction must
demonstrate standing to bring the case. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560
( 1992). Plaintiffs standing to bring a case is a threshold issue to the issuance of injunctive
relief. See Cacchillo v. Jnsmed, Inc., 638 F.3d 401, 404 (2d Cir. 2011) ("[l]n order to seek
injunctive relief, a plaintiff must show the three familiar elements of standing .... "); Denney v.
Deutsche Bank AG, 443 F.3d 253, 263 (2d Cir. 2006) ("[Standing] is the threshold question in
every federal case, determining the power of the court to entertain the, suit.").
Plaintiff's Standing to Bring this Case
In opposition to Plaintiffs motion for a preliminary injunction, the City argues that
Plaintiff lacks standing to bring this lawsuit. (City Opp'n to Mot. for Prelim. Inj. at 16.)
However, "nothing prevents an organization from bringing a§ 1983 suit on its own behalf so
long as it can independently satisfy the requirements of Article III standing as enumerated in
Lujan." Nnebe v. Daus, 644 FJd 147, 156 (2d Cir. 2011). "[O]nly a 'perceptible impairment'
of an organization's activities is necessary for there to be 'injury in fact.'" !d. (citation omitted).
Here, Plaintiffs Complaint alleges that it is paid by its members partly by percentage fees on
money which it saves its members on parking tickets, and that by collecting improper fines the
City caused it to suffer lower profits. (See Compl.
1-18.) These allegations are also sufficient
to show that Plaintiffs injuries were suffered as a direct result of the City's actions, and that they
could be redressed by a favorable decision from the court. See Lujan, 504 U.S. at 561
(explaining the elements of standing and that at the pleading stage, general factual allegations
suffice to show standing). Accordingly, at this stage in the proceedings, the court is satisfied that
Plaintiff has standing to seek redress for its own injuries.'
Plaintiff's Likelihood of Success on the Merits
Plaintiff argues that the court should look to whether there are serious questions as to the
merits of the case, rather than a likelihood of success on the merits, because there are public
interests on both sides of the case. (Pl. Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Prelim. Inj. at 19-20.)
It is true that in some cases against the government, where "no party has exclusive claim
on the public interest," courts have required only the lower showing. Time Warner Cable, 118
F.3d at 923 (citing cases). Where the injunction would stay "'governmental action taken in the
public interest pursuant to a statutory scheme or might 'adversely affect the public interest in a
manner which cannot be compensated for by an injunction bond,"' however, the Second Circuit
has required a strong showing of entitlement under the first prong. !d. (citations omitted).
Plaintiffs application for a preliminary injunction plainly seeks to stay governmental action
taken pursuant to a regulatory scheme for parking enforcement. The "retaliatory acts'' Plaintiff
claims are changes in operation of the Program or actions taken as part of the Program's
enforcement. (See Pl. Mot for Prelim. Inj. at 7-9.) Accordingly, the higher standard applies.
See Red Earth, 657 F. 3d al43; Grand River, 481 F.3d at 66.
Plaintiffs only argument as to how it has shown a likelihood of success on the merits is
that "[t]he statistical evidence of Defendant's liability is overwhelming and, quite candidly,
At this time, the court expresses no opinion as to whether Plaintiff has standing to raise particular claims on
behalf of its members, or has class standing. The court will address these issues in its Order on the City's pending
Motion for Judgment under Federal Rule of Procedure 12(c).
virtually impossible to discredit or overcome." (Pl. Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Prelim. Inj.
at 21.) Plaintiff argues that the statistics show "compelling proof of intentional misconduct," but
does not provide any further explanation or cite any authority as to how this constitutes a
violation of its rights under the Fourth or Fourteenth Amendment. What is more, the City has
raised the argument that participants in the Program waived their right to contest parking
violations, and thus waived the ability to bring this suit. (City Opp'n to to Prelim. lnj. at 16-17.)
The merit of this complete defense is yet to be determined, and the parties have submitted
lengthy arguments on the subject in their briefing on the City's Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings, which is fully briefed and pending before the court. (See City Mem. in Supp. of Mot.
for J. (Dkt. 76-4) at 11-18); Pl. Opp'n to Mot. for J. (Dkt. 76-5) at 9-17.) Thus, the court cannot
conclude that Plaintiff has demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of this lawsuit.
Plaintiff also argues that the court should issue injunctive relief under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 23 and 65, which govern class actions and discovery, or under the All Writs Act.
(See Pl. Mem. in Supp. of Prelim. lnj. at 9-19.) Based on the parties' submissions, the court
concludes that such authority need not be exercised here. It is certainly within the City's
purview to make changes to the administration and operation of its regulatory programs, and it is
at this point in the case unclear to the court how these changes threaten the ability of the parties
to go forward with discovery, or threaten the ability of potential class members to participate in
the lawsuit. The court thus declines to grant the extraordinary relief sought by Plaintiff.
For the reasons explained above, the Plaintiffs motion for a preliminary injunction and
for other equitable relief is DENIED.
s/Nicholas G. Garaufis
Dated: Brooklyn, New York
NICHOLAS G. GARAUFIS
United States District Judge
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