the matter had not been adequately presented and that there was not sufficient information before the court "upon which to found a decision that a properly defined class exists." Finally, the court raised a serious question regarding the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter and ordered the parties to submit briefs and to appear for oral argument on June 14, 1976.
On May 12, 1976, defendant Riti, by counsel, moved for summary judgment or in the alternative for an order dismissing the complaint as to him for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The basis for this motion is the assertion contained in Riti's affidavit that he has no power or authority to promulgate regulations in conjunction with the AFDC program, and, therefore, cannot be ordered to promulgate such regulations.
Plaintiff filed a counter motion for summary judgment on June 10, 1976 which was made returnable on June 14, 1976 so as to be heard at the same time as the other pending matters.
The hearing was held on June 14, 1976, following which the decision of the matter was submitted to the court on undisputed facts. At this hearing, it was brought to the court's attention that the New Jersey Commissioner of Institutions and Agencies had issued a new set of regulations providing for emergency fair hearings to review denials of requests for emergency assistance. Plaintiff's attorney conceded that, should this court require the plaintiff to exhaust her state administrative procedures as a prerequisite to bringing this action in the district court, the newly established state procedures were adequate. Consequently, it would appear that the relief sought under the second count of the complaint has been mooted.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the court indicated that it would await the decision by the Supreme Court in a case then pending which concerned exhaustion requirements in § 1983 suits. Burrell v. McCray, 423 U.S. 923 96 S. Ct. 264, 46 L. Ed. 2d 249 (1976), decision below reported at 516 F.2d 357 (4th Cir. 1975). By order of June 14, 1976, the Supreme Court dismissed the writ of certiorari as improvidently granted, thereby letting stand the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In these circumstances, it would appear that the plaintiff should not be required to exhaust her state administrative remedies before coming here.
The complaint states a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides a cause of action for a deprivation, under color of state law, of any "rights, privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws" of the United States. The plaintiff alleges that the New Jersey regulations implementing the federal emergency assistance program for AFDC recipients conflict with the applicable federal regulations and, thus, deprive her of the right to receive the federally mandated benefits. Compare, 42 U.S.C. § 606(e)(1) and 45 C.F.R. § 233.120 with New Jersey Administrative Code 10:82-12.11. The plaintiff further alleges that as a result of the narrower eligibility requirements established under the New Jersey regulation, she has been deprived, under color of state law, of rights secured by both the Constitution and laws of the United States. The only constitutional claim the plaintiff presents is that the alleged conflict between the state and federal statutes and regulations violates rights secured for her by the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. The claim that she has been deprived of rights secured by the laws of the United States is essentially the same: that is, that she has a right under the federal statutes and regulations to receive emergency assistance benefits which are being denied her by state and local officials acting under color of state law.
Plaintiff seeks to posit jurisdiction over these § 1983 claims upon 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343. It is unquestionable that the plaintiff has stated a claim arising under the Constitution or laws of the United States and that, if the amount here in controversy exceeded $10,000, exclusive of costs and interest, this court would have jurisdiction under § 1331. However, it is apparent on the face of the complaint that the plaintiff seeks only $163 in damages together with declaratory and injunctive relief. Even as a class action, the amount in controversy requirement cannot be met because the individual claims of the members of this class cannot be aggregated. Snyder v. Harris, 394 U.S. 332, 89 S. Ct. 1053, 22 L. Ed. 2d 319 (1969). Therefore, this court has no jurisdiction to entertain the complaint under § 1331. St. Paul Mercury Indemnity Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 58 S. Ct. 586, 82 L. Ed. 845 (1938).
Plaintiff's claim of jurisdiction under § 1343 is more substantial. There is no doubt that when a complaint states a non-frivolous constitutional claim under § 1983, a district court has the power under 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3) to decide other statutory claims based upon § 1983 even though it has not determined that there is an independent basis for district court jurisdiction over those claims. Hagans v. Lavine, 415 U.S. 528, 94 S. Ct. 1372, 39 L. Ed. 2d 577 (1974). Indeed, the court in Hagans, and in Townsend v. Swank, 404 U.S. 282, 92 S. Ct. 502, 30 L. Ed. 2d 448 (1971) and King v. Smith, 392 U.S. 309, 88 S. Ct. 2128, 20 L. Ed. 2d 1118 (1968) held that the case should be disposed of on the non-constitutional grounds if at all possible. Consequently, the Supreme Court has passed upon questions of federal statutory rights under the Social Security Act without having to decide whether, absent a non-frivolous constitutional claim to which to pend these claims, there is an independent basis for federal jurisdiction under § 1343(3) or (4).
Section 1983 creates a federal cause of action for a deprivation, under color of state law,
of any rights . . . secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States.