The opinion of the court was delivered by: GILES
Defendants challenge the proposed class on several grounds: (1) there are insufficient questions of law and fact common to the proposed class members; (2) the claims of the representative parties are not typical of the claims of the class; and (3) the proposed class representatives will not adequately protect the interests of the class. Defendants simultaneously filed a motion to dismiss,
challenging plaintiff Mary Grant's standing to seek relief in this court. Because defendants focused on Grant's lack of standing as a factor precluding class certification, defendants did not press the issue of standing as to the remaining named plaintiffs. Def's Mem. in Resp. to Pls' Am. Mot. for Cl. Determ. at 3. However, because this court has plenary power over the issue of standing under Art. III of the Constitution, I will sua sponte rule on whether each has presented a sufficient case or controversy to withstand constitutional and jurisprudential limitations.
Because I find that each of the named plaintiffs has failed to present a justiciable case or controversy, the above-captioned matter is dismissed without prejudice.
The doctrine of standing in the federal court delimits the persons who are permitted to challenge the legality of an act. In order to invoke the jurisdiction of the federal courts, a plaintiff must satisfy the threshold requirement imposed by Art. III of the Constitution by alleging an actual case or controversy. Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 94-101, 20 L. Ed. 2d 947, 88 S. Ct. 1942 (1968). In order to present a live case or controversy, a plaintiff must show that he has "'sustained or is immediately in danger of sustaining some direct injury' as the result of the challenged official conduct and the injury or threat of injury must be both 'real and immediate,' not 'conjectural' or 'hypothetical.'" City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 101-102, 75 L. Ed. 2d 675, 103 S. Ct. 1660 (1983) (quoting, e.g., Golden v. Zwickler, 394 U.S. 103, 109-110, 22 L. Ed. 2d 113, 89 S. Ct. 956 (1969)).
In the case before me, the controversy centers not on plaintiffs' request for monetary damages arising out of allegedly illegal activity, but rather, on a showing that plaintiffs are entitled to the requested equitable relief. The line of Supreme Court cases which guides this court begins with O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 38 L. Ed. 2d 674, 94 S. Ct. 669 (1974). In O'Shea, the Court observed that past exposure to some illegal conduct does not in itself demonstrate a case or controversy regarding injunctive relief, unless such past exposure is accompanied by continuing and present adverse effects. Id. at 495-96. Past wrongs are but evidence bearing on the issue of whether there is a real and immediate threat of repeated injury. The prospect of future injury must be both real and immediate. Id. at 496.
The O'Shea Court found that respondent had failed to demonstrate that it was more than speculation that he would be again exposed to prosecution under state criminal laws. The Court additionally found that even assuming the existence of Art. III standing, respondent had failed to state an adequate basis for equitable relief. In so concluding, the Court recognized the inherent overlap of case or controversy analysis where equitable relief is sought and the determination as to whether a complaint states a sound basis for equitable relief.
In City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 109, 75 L. Ed. 2d 675, 103 S. Ct. 1660 (1983), the result and reasoning of O'Shea was extended to cases where the plaintiff seeks to enjoin a sanctioned state practice assertedly violative of constitutional rights. Id. at 108-109. In Lyons, respondent sought an injunction prohibiting the use of "chokeholds" by Los Angeles police officers. Lyons alleged that he had been the victim of a police stranglehold after having been stopped for a minor traffic violation.
The Court, in reversing the Ninth Circuit's injunction against the City of Los Angeles prohibiting their use of strangleholds, held that Lyons had failed to demonstrate a case or controversy which would justify equitable relief. Id. at 105. While the chokehold may have given rise to a constitutional claim for damages under § 1983, the past injury and injuries did nothing to establish a real and immediate threat that he would again be subjected to such conduct. The Court stated that, for Lyons to establish a case or controversy, he would have to allege not only another encounter with the police but also, that he would again be subjected to another chokehold. The Court concluded that the alleged prospect of repetitious illegal conduct was purely speculative.