him that the Medical Assistance Program would not provide this service because he had no eye pathology (Complaint of Intervening Plaintiff -- Darragh).
William B. Johnson is a citizen of Pennsylvania. He is poor, receiving $21 every two weeks. Johnson is twenty-one years old and has worn eyeglasses for 10 years. He suffers from myopia and astigmatism neither of which is an eye disease or pathology, but both of which can be corrected by eyeglasses. He accidentally broke his glasses and requested eyeglasses from his caseworker at the Philadelphia County Board of Assistance. He was informed by his caseworker that the Medical Assistance Program would not pay for eyeglasses because he had no eye disease or pathology. (Amended Complaint).
A. Eleventh Amendment
The Eleventh Amendment of the United States Constitution has been held to forbid a federal court from rendering a judgment against an unconsenting state in favor of a citizen of that state.
Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 663, 39 L. Ed. 2d 662, 94 S. Ct. 1347 (1974); Employees of Dept. of Public Health and Welfare of Missouri v. Dept. of Public Health and Public Welfare of Missouri, 411 U.S. 279, 280, 36 L. Ed. 2d 251, 93 S. Ct. 1614 (1973). If a state agency is the named defendant, it is necessary to determine the relationship of the agency to the state to ascertain whether the state is the real or substantial party in interest. Urbano v. Board of Managers of New Jersey State Prison, 415 F.2d 247, 250 (3d Cir. 1969).
Some courts have determined that the relief sought is the controlling factor and that if a state agency is sued and equitable relief rather than money damages is sought, the Eleventh Amendment is inapplicable. See, e.g., 21 Properties, Inc. v. Romney, 360 F. Supp. 1322, 1326 (N.D. Tex. 1973). The better reasoning, however, is to determine the status of the agency without regard to the type of relief sought. See Byram River v. Village of Port Chester, New York, 394 F. Supp. 618 (S.D.N.Y. 1975). This is logical since the Supreme Court has held that the Eleventh Amendment is applicable when a state is sued for equitable relief, Duhne v. New Jersey, 251 U.S. 311, 64 L. Ed. 280, 40 S. Ct. 154 (1920), and the language of the Eleventh Amendment states that it applies to both suits in law and equity.
In analyzing the functions of the Department of Public Welfare in light of standards used in determining the status of a state agency, see, e.g., King v. Caesar Rodney School Dist., 396 F. Supp. 423 (D. Del. 1975); it is clear that the Department is an alter ego of the state and, hence, is immune from suit before this court by virtue of the Eleventh Amendment. Downs v. Dept. of Public Welfare, 368 F. Supp. 454 (E.D. Pa. 1973) (Green, J.). The Eleventh Amendment does not immunize state officials from suit in federal court insofar as prospective relief is sought which relief has only an ancillary impact on the public treasury. Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 668, 39 L. Ed. 2d 662, 94 S. Ct. 1347 (1974); Byram River v. Village of Port Chester, New York, supra at 628. To the extent that plaintiffs' demand for relief sought is prospective having an ancillary impact on the state treasury and because full relief can be obtained from the named state officials in the form of an equitable remedy, the named state officials are not immune from suit. See Fialkowski v. Shapp, 405 F. Supp. 946 (E.D. Pa. 1975).
Defendants contend that this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiffs allege jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 28 U.S.C. § 1343.
28 U.S.C. § 1343
Plaintiffs' statutory claim that Pa. Stat. Ann. tit. 62 § 443.4 and DPW-Pa. Manual §§ 9740 and 9743 are in conflict with the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1396 et seq., and the regulations promulgated thereunder, 45 CFR § 249.10 et seq., and thus violative of the Supremacy Clause of Article VI of the United States Constitution presents serious jurisdictional questions if that claim is brought under 28 U.S.C. § 1343. The pertinent sections of that statute provide the following:
The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action authorized by law to be commenced by any person:
(3) To redress the deprivation, under color of any State law, statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage, of any right, privilege or immunity secured by the Constitution of the United States or by any Act of Congress providing for equal rights of citizens or of all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States. (emphasis added).