The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. RICHARD CAPUTO, District Judge
Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary
Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction. (Doc. 2.) I will
grant the motion because I find that there is a likelihood of
success on the merits, there is a risk of irreparable harm to the
Plaintiffs if the injunction were not issued, there is no risk of
irreparable harm to the Defendants if I issue the injunction, and
the public interest is served by issuance of the injunction. The
Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
The facts of this case are undisputed. The Scranton Housing
Authority (hereinafter Housing Authority) owns and operates low
income housing for residents of Scranton, Pennsylvania, including
the Washington Plaza Apartments (hereinafter Washington Plaza).
The Housing Authority receives funds from the United States
Department of Housing and Urban Development (hereinafter HUD).
For several years, the Housing Authority has planned to renovate
and modernize Washington Plaza. They sought out and received
funds from HUD to perform the modernization. The Housing
Authority included the modernization in their five year plan. The
plan called for all residents to vacate Washington Plaza, thus permitting all
buildings to be renovated simultaneously. Residents could choose
to moved to other Housing Authority developments, Section Eight
housing, or private residencies. The Housing Authority offered to
compensate residents for the relocation. The plan further called
for new residents to move into the units after they were
reopened. On or about October 6, 2004, the Housing Authority sent
residents a letter informing them that they had ninety days to
begin relocation. The same letter informed residents that
information on relocation options and available housing could be
received from a person on site at Washington Plaza. Residents had
already begun moving out by the time the action was filed.
On November 19, 2004, Plaintiffs filed an Emergency Complaint
against the Scranton Housing Authority and its Executive
Director, David Baker, in his official capacity. (Doc. 1.) The
complaint alleged that the renovation plan violated the Uniform
Relocation Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. § 4601, et seq., as well
as the federal regulations governing HUD funded projects,
24 C.F.R. § 968.105, et seq., and the Due Process clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment. On November 19, 2004, I held a hearing on
the Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary
Injunction. After hearing testimony from both sides, I
conditionally certified the class and issued a temporary
restraining order enjoining the Housing Authority from moving
residents out of Washington Plaza. (Doc. 6.) I scheduled a
hearing on the preliminary injunction for December 1, 2004,
(id.) but it was canceled because the parties informed the
Court that a settlement was forthcoming (Docs. 10 & 11). After
several months of negotiations, the parties informed the Court
that settlement was not possible. (Doc. 22.) I held a hearing on
the preliminary injunction on April 18, 2005. Prior to the
hearing, the parties submitted legal memoranda. (Docs. 30 & 32.) The motion is now ripe for
There are two issues presently before the Court: whether I
should certify the class for purposes of this action, and whether
I should grant a preliminary injunction. I will address each of
these in turn.
At the November 19, 2004 hearing, I conditionally certified the
class. Now, I will revisit the issue to determine whether the
class should be certified for the purposes of this litigation.
Class relief is appropriate when the "issues involved are common
to the class as a whole" and when they "turn on questions of law
applicable in the same manner to each member of the class."
Califano v. Yamasaki, 442 U.S. 682, 701 (1979). Rule 23 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sets forth the requirements for
class certification. To be certified, a putative class must first
satisfy the four threshold requirements of Rule 23(a): (1)
numerosity; (2) commonality; (3) typicality; and (4) adequacy of
representation. See Amchem Products, Inc. v. Windsor,
521 U.S. 591, 613 (1997); FED. R. CIV. P. 23(a). In addition, a plaintiff
seeking class certification must show the action is maintainable
under Rule 23(b) (1), (2), or (3). Id. at 614.
For purposes of class certification, the Court does not
consider the merits of the plaintiff's claim. Eisen v. Carlisle
& Jacquelin, 417 U.S. 156, 178 (1974). Rule 23 is given liberal
rather than restrictive construction. See In re A.H. Robins
Co., 880 F.2d 709 (4th Cir. 1989). The "interests of justice
require that in a doubtful case . . . any error, if there is to
be one, should be committed in favor of allowing a class action."
In re Flat Glass Antitrust Litig., 191 F.R.D. 472, 476 (W.D. Pa. 1999)
(quoting Eisenberg v. Gagnon, 766 F.2d 770, 785 (3d Cir.
1985)). The ultimate burden, however, is on the plaintiff to
demonstrate that a class should be certified. See Davis v.
Romney, 490 F.2d 1360, 1366 (3d Cir. 1974).
A class action may be maintained only if "the class is so
numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable." Rule
23(a)(1). "The question of what constitutes [numerosity] . . .
depends on the particular facts of each case and no arbitrary
rules regarding the size of classes have been established by the
courts." 7A WRIGHT, MILLER & KANE, FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE
§ 1762 (1986). In the present case, Washington Plaza contains
sixty units. Of these units, fifty to fifty-five families lived
in the units when the modernization planning began. Thus, I find
that the potential plaintiffs are numerous enough.
The commonality requirement states that there must be
"questions of law or fact common to the class." Rule 23(a)(2).
This requirement does not mean that every question must be common
to the entire class. See Weiss v. York Hosp., 745 F.2d 786, 809
(3d Cir. 1984); Edmondson v. Simon, 86 F.R.D. 375, 380 (N.D.
Ill. 1980). In the present case, the conduct in question is the
manner in which the Scranton Housing Authority planned and
intends to execute the modernization of Washington Plaza. Thus,
the legal issues as they relate to the individual plaintiffs are
"Typicality entails an inquiry into whether the named
plaintiffs' individual circumstances are markedly different or the legal theory upon
which the claims are based differs from that upon which the
claims of other class members will perforce be based." Reilly v.
Gould, Inc., 965 F. Supp. 588, 598 (M.D. Pa. 1997) (quoting
Hassine v. Jeffes, 846 F.2d 169, 177 (3d Cir. 1988)). Although
typicality measures the sufficiency of the named plaintiffs, it
does not require that "all putative class members share identical
claims." Neal v. Casey, 43 F.3d 48, 56 (3d Cir. 1994). Rather,
the typicality requirement is intended "to screen out class
actions involving legal or factual positions of the class
representative which are markedly different from those of other
class members." Reilly, 965 F. Supp. at 600 (quoting Liberty
Lincoln Mercury v. Ford Marketing, 149 F.R.D. 65, 77 (D.N.J.
1993)). In the present case, the named Plaintiffs represent a
large cross-section of the residents of the complex. They are
mothers rearing children, people caring for elderly parents,
people suffering from ongoing medical conditions which require
frequent hospital visits, people who work, and people who rely
upon public transportation. Thus, I find the typicality
requirement is met.
Last is the question of adequacy of representation. This
requirement actually encompasses two factors. First, "the
interests of the named plaintiffs must be sufficiently aligned
with those of the absentees." Georgine v. Amchem Prods.,
83 F.3d 610, 630 (3d Cir. 1996). I find that this requirement has
been met. Plaintiffs are seeking to enforce their rights of
relocation assistance and participation provided under the
applicable statutes and regulations. The second component of Rule
23(a)(4) is that "class counsel must be qualified and must serve
the interests of the entire class." Id. at 630. After observing
Plaintiffs' counsel in two hearings and in camera meetings, and