Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

BRYANT v. NEW JERSEY DOT

March 18, 1998

LILLIAN E. BRYANT, LILLIAN W. BRYANT, CARL BRISCOE, GUSTAVIA ELLIS, PIERRE HOLLINGSWORTH, MICHAEL F. JOHNSON, ELWOOD S. DAVIS, FIRST WARD CIVIC ASSOCIATION, THIRD WARD CIVIC ASSOCIATION and WEST SIDE PROTECTIVE HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, THE SOUTH JERSEY TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY, MIRAGE RESORTS INCORPORATED, THE NEW JERSEY TRANSPORTATION TRUST FUND AUTHORITY and THE CASINO REINVESTMENT DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ORLOFSKY

 ORLOFSKY, District Judge:

 On February 17, 1998, I determined that the plaintiffs in this action lacked standing to sue under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and I therefore dismissed the Amended Complaint for lack of jurisdiction. See Bryant v. New Jersey Department of Transportation ("Bryant I "), 987 F. Supp. 343, 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1847 (D.N.J. Feb. 17, 1998). Specifically, I found that the plaintiffs' claims did not fall within the "zone of interests" protected by Title VI as that zone had been defined by the seminal case of Simpson v. Reynolds Metals Co., Inc., 629 F.2d 1226 (7th Cir. 1980). On February 25, 1998, eight days after my decision, the United States Supreme Court revisited the zone of interests test in National Credit Union Administration v. First National Bank & Trust Co., 118 S. Ct. 927, 140 L. Ed. 2d 1, 1998 U.S. LEXIS 1448, 1998 WL 75036 (1998). On February 26, 1998, in a telephone conference with all counsel, I requested supplemental briefs from the parties regarding the impact, if any, of National Credit Union on my decision in Bryant I.

 I must decide the question, in its infancy, of whether the National Credit Union decision has altered the standing requirements of Title VI. Treating my request as a sua sponte motion for reconsideration, I conclude that the Supreme Court's decision in National Credit Union has undermined the doctrine articulated in Simpson to such an extent that it no longer controls this case. In light of this intervening change in controlling law, I must reverse my decision in Bryant I. For the reasons set forth below, my order dismissing the Amended Complaint, dated February 17, 1998, will be vacated as to the Title VI claim.

 I. BACKGROUND

 While reconsidering these motions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, I must again assume the truth of the facts alleged in the Amended Complaint. See Suber v. Chrysler Corp., 104 F.3d 578, 581 (3d Cir. 1997) (citing Licata v. U.S. Postal Service, 33 F.3d 259, 260 (3d Cir. 1994)). These facts are set forth in detail in my prior opinion, see Bryant I, 987 F. Supp. 343, 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1847, and will be revisited only briefly here.

 The New Jersey Department of Transportation, the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund Authority, the South Jersey Transportation Authority, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority ("CRDA") and Mirage Resorts, Inc. (collectively "Defendants"), have agreed to cooperate in the financing and construction of a casino and entertainment complex on a particular site in Atlantic City, New Jersey. See Amended Complaint at PP 1, 15-21. To facilitate access to the new complex, Defendants have proposed to construct a highway extension and tunnel (the "Westside Bypass") connecting an existing roadway to the site of the complex. See id. at P 22. Plaintiffs allege that the construction of the Westside Bypass is "an activity for which federal financial assistance is being received under [sic] the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 2000d." Id. at P 44.

 The plaintiffs in this action, Lillian E. Bryant, Lillian W. Bryant, Carl Briscoe, Gustavia Ellis, Pierre Hollingsworth, Michael F. Johnson, Elwood S. Davis, the First Ward Civic Association, the Third Ward Civic Association and the West Side Protective Homeowners Association (collectively "Plaintiffs"), are residents and neighborhood groups of the Atlantic City communities known as the West Side and Venice Park. Id. at PP 5, 30. Referring to those communities, Plaintiffs claim that the negative effects of the Westside Bypass project will fall disproportionately on the "last stable, middle-class African-American neighborhoods" in Atlantic City. See id. at P 2. In addition to "air quality, traffic, water quality, wetlands and community character impacts," the construction of the Westside Bypass would require "the acquisition and destruction of at least nine homes in the Venice Park community." Id.

 After filing Answers, Defendants moved, inter alia, to dismiss the Title VI claim based on Plaintiffs' lack of standing. Defendants argued that, pursuant to the Title VI standing test articulated in Simpson v. Reynolds Metals Co., Inc., 629 F.2d 1226 (7th Cir. 1980), (the "Simpson Doctrine"), Plaintiffs lacked standing because they were not intended beneficiaries of, applicants for, or participants in the Westside Bypass project. This proposition was disputed by Plaintiffs and by amicus curiae, the Public Interest Law Center of New Jersey ("PILC").

 In a cursory response to Defendants' motions to dismiss, Plaintiffs argued that the Simpson Doctrine had been abrogated by the passage of the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1986 ("CRRA"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000d-4a. See Plaintiffs' Brief at 21-22. PILC amplified this argument with a more substantial analysis. See PILC's Brief at 27-33. Plaintiffs also stated, in what I presume to be an alternative argument, that they had standing under the Simpson Doctrine because the intended beneficiaries of the Westside Bypass project must include "all citizens of the State of New Jersey and more particularly citizens of Atlantic City." Id. at 21. PILC similarly contended that Plaintiffs were the intended beneficiaries of the Westside Bypass project "as citizens of Atlantic City." See PILC's Brief at 33.

 Faced with only these arguments, I determined in Bryant I that the CRRA did not abrogate the Simpson Doctrine. See Bryant I, 987 F. Supp. 343, 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1847 at *21-25. I also found that Plaintiffs were not intended beneficiaries of, applicants for, or participants in the Westside Bypass project because, "to the extent that potential casino patrons, residents of Atlantic City or residents of New Jersey would benefit from this project ... the logical nexus with the relevant program is too diffuse to provide a basis for standing and thus for subject matter jurisdiction." See Bryant I, 987 F. Supp. 343, 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1847 at *29. Therefore, I dismissed Plaintiffs' Title VI claim for lack of standing and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' state law claim. See id.

 On February 25, 1998, however, the Supreme Court decided the case of National Credit Union Association v. First National Bank & Trust Co., 118 S. Ct. 927, 140 L. Ed. 2d 1, 1998 U.S. LEXIS 1448, 1998 WL 75036 (1998). On February 26, 1998, in a telephone conference call with all counsel, I asked the parties to submit supplemental briefs discussing the impact, if any, of the National Credit Union decision on Plaintiffs' standing in this case. On March 12, 1998, in order to eliminate any prejudice to Plaintiffs during my reconsideration of Bryant I, and with the consent of all parties, I entered an order pursuant to Rule 4(a)(5) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure extending Plaintiffs' time for filing a Notice of Appeal from the order of dismissal for 30 days.

 II. DISCUSSION

 In the wake of National Credit Union, I must discern the nature of my authority to reconsider the order of dismissal, I must evaluate the implications of National Credit Union, and I must determine whether, at the end of the day, Plaintiffs have standing to maintain this action under Title VI. I conclude that Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes me to reconsider my decision in Bryant I, that, in light of National Credit Union, the Simpson Doctrine no longer controls this case, and that ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.