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DE SANTIS v. RICCI

June 28, 1985

ANTHONY DESANTIS, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS RICCI, PETER TORRO, JOHN DOES, AND NEW JERSEY SPORTS AND EXPOSITION AUTHORITY, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAROKIN

 Plaintiff Anthony DeSantis brings this action against the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority ("the Authority") and certain of its security guards pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and various state tort theories. In particular, plaintiff alleges that, on January 21, 1984, he went to the Byrne Meadowlands Arena, owned and operated by the Authority, for purposes of attending a basketball game. Upon entry, plaintiff inquired as to where he could obtain a drinking mug, which was advertised as a promotional give-away free to patrons of the Arena that evening. Plaintiff was told that all such mugs had already been given away. Perplexed, plaintiff asked to speak to someone in charge.

 According to plaintiff, various Arena security guards, who are defendants herein, responded to this complaint by beating plaintiff, handcuffing him and ultimately filing a criminal complaint against him, for creating a disturbance. See Complaint, Exh. A. Such complaint was dismissed on February 8, 1984 for failure to prosecute. On February 22, 1985, plaintiff filed the instant Complaint, alleging violations of his constitutional rights, as well as malicious abuse of process, false arrest, assault and battery, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and negligence. Defendant now moves to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), arguing that the eleventh amendment bars the prosecution of plaintiff's claim in federal court.

 The eleventh amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides:

 
The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.

 Such amendment was added after the Supreme Court decision in Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 U.S. 419, 2 Dall. 419, 1 L. Ed. 440 (1793), allowing a citizen of South Carolina to sue the State of Georgia in federal court.

 
The decision "created such a shock of surprise that the Eleventh Amendment was at once proposed and adopted." Monaco v. Mississippi, 292 U.S. 313, 325 [78 L. Ed. 1282, 54 S. Ct. 745] (1934).
 
* * * *
 
The Amendment's language overruled the particular result in Chisholm, but [the Supreme] Court has recognized that its greater significance lies in its affirmation that the fundamental principle of sovereign immunity limits the grant of judicial authority in Article III. Thus, in Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1 [33 L. Ed. 842, 10 S. Ct. 504] (1890), the Court held that, despite the limited terms of the Eleventh Amendment, a federal court could not entertain a suit brought by a citizen against his own State. After reviewing the constitutional debates concerning the scope of Art. III, the Court determined that federal jurisdiction against unconsenting States "was not contemplated by the Constitution when establishing the judicial power of the United States." Id. at 15. See Monaco v. Mississippi, supra, 292 U.S. at 322-23.

 Pennhurst State School & Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 104 S. Ct. 900, 906-07, 79 L. Ed. 2d 67 (1984) (footnote omitted).

 Here, the issue presented is whether the Authority is to be deemed the State for eleventh amendment purposes. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has listed the following as the criteria to be applied in deciding such issue.

 
Local law and decisions defining the status and nature of the agency involved in its relation to the sovereign are to be considered, but only one of a number that are of significance. Among the other factors, no one of which is conclusive, perhaps the most important is whether, in the event plaintiff prevails, the payment of the judgment will have to be made out of the state treasury; significant here also is whether the agency has the funds or the power to satisfy the judgment. Other relevant factors are whether the agency is performing a governmental or proprietary function; whether it has been separately incorporated; the degree of autonomy over its operations; whether it has the power to sue and be sued and to enter into contracts; whether its property is immune from state taxation, and whether the sovereign has immunized itself from responsibility for the agency's actions.

 Blake v. Kline, 612 F.2d 718, 722 (3d Cir. 1979), cert. denied, 447 U.S. 921, 65 L. Ed. 2d 1112, 100 S. Ct. 3011 (1980), quoting Urbano v. Board of Managers of New Jersey State Prison, 415 F.2d 247, 250-51 (3d Cir. 1969), cert. denied, 397 U.S. 948, 25 L. Ed. 2d 128, 90 S. Ct. 967 (1970). See also Hall v. Medical College of Ohio at Toledo, 742 F.2d 299, 302 (6th Cir. 1984); Fouche v. Jekyll Island - State Park Authority, 713 F.2d 1518, 1520 (11th Cir. 1983), citing Mt. Healthy City School District Board of Education v. Doyle, 429 U.S. 274, 280, 50 L. Ed. 2d 471, 97 S. Ct. 568 (1977) ("The issue here . . . turns on whether the Mt. Healthy Board of Education is to be treated as an arm of the State partaking of the State's Eleventh Amendment immunity, or is instead to be treated as a municipal corporation or other political subdivision to which the Eleventh Amendment does not extend. The answer depends, at least in part, upon the nature of the entity created by state law."). The court here endeavors to apply such criteria, essentially without the assistance of the parties, whose cursory submissions do not do justice to this important issue of first impressions.

 By way of background, the Authority was created by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority Law, enacted in 1971. N.J. Stat. Ann. 5:10-1 et seq. ("the Law"). The purposes of the Authority are spelled out in the Law, and include "the general welfare, health and prosperity of the people of the State," the provision of recreation, forums and expositions for the public, the promotion of industry, and the "needed development of [the] meadowlands." N.J. Stat. Ann. 5:10-2. The Law describes the Authority as "an instrumentality of the State exercising public and essential governmental functions" such that its activities "shall be deemed and held ...


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