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Buffalo Teachers Fed'n v. Tobe

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

March 7, 2006, Argued ; September 21, 2006, Decided

Docket No. 05-4744-cv


 [*365]  CARDAMONE, Circuit  [**2]   Judge:

] When a state is sued for allegedly impairing the contractual obligations of one of its political subdivisions even though it is not a signatory to the contract, the state will not be held liable for violating the Contracts Clause of the United States Constitution unless plaintiffs produce evidence that the state's self-interest rather than the general welfare of the public motivated the state's conduct. On this issue, plaintiffs have the burden of proof because the record of what and why the state has acted is laid out in committee hearings, public reports, and legislation, making what motivated the state not difficult to discern. In the appeal before us, the record of why the state acted is available, and plaintiffs have not met their burden.

Plaintiffs are the Buffalo Teachers Union and a number of other unions in Buffalo, New York (Buffalo or City), representing public employees of the school district of the City of Buffalo -- including teachers, principals, bus drivers, cooks, food service helpers, etc. (plaintiffs, unions, or appellants). Defendants are the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority (Buffalo Fiscal Authority, BFSA, or Board), its members, and New York State [**3]  Governor George E. Pataki (collectively defendants). Plaintiffs, alleging that a wage freeze instituted by defendant Buffalo Fiscal Authority violates the Contracts Clause and the Takings Clause of the United States Constitution, sued defendants and sought a declaratory judgment with respect to the wage freeze's constitutionality and also an injunction against its enforcement. Both sides moved for summary judgment. The United States District Court for the Western District of New York (Skretny, J.) granted summary judgment for defendants in a judgment dated and entered August 19, 2005.


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464 F.3d 362 *; 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 24006 **; 11 Wage & Hour Cas. 2d (BNA) 1623; 153 Lab. L. Rep. (CCH) 60274

Buffalo Teachers Federation, Buffalo Educational Support Team, NEA/NY, Transportation Aides of Buffalo, NEA/NY, Substitutes United Buffalo NEA/NY, Buffalo Council of Supervisors and Administrators, AFSCME Local 264, Professional Clerical and Technical Employees' Association and Local 409 International Union Operating Engineers, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Richard Tobe, Thomas E. Baker, Alair Townsend, H. Carl McCall, John J. Faso, Joel A. Giambra, Mayor Anthony Masiello, Richard A. Stenhouse, Roger G. Wilmers, in their official capacities as directors/members of the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority and George E. Pataki, Defendants-Appellees.

Subsequent History: US Supreme Court certiorari denied by Buffalo Teachers Fed'n v. Tobe, 550 U.S. 918, 127 S. Ct. 2133, 167 L. Ed. 2d 864, 2007 U.S. LEXIS 4563 (2007)

Motion denied by, Motion denied by, As moot Buffalo Teachers Fed'n v. Tobe, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17123 (W.D.N.Y., Feb. 8, 2012)

Prior History:  [**1]  Plaintiffs, various unions that represent public employees of the City of Buffalo, appeal the judgment entered on August 19, 2005 in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York (Skretny, J.). Plaintiffs contend a wage freeze enacted by defendants, the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority and its members, violates the Contracts and Takings Clauses of the United States Constitution. Plaintiffs sought declaratory judgment of the wage freeze's unconstitutionality as well as an injunction against its enforcement. The district court, finding no constitutional violation, denied plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and granted summary judgment in favor of defendants.

Buffalo Teachers Fed'n v. Tobe, 446 F. Supp. 2d 134, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43688 (W.D.N.Y., 2005)

Disposition: Affirmed.


wage freeze, impairment, fiscal, deference, contracts, freeze, emergency, regulatory taking, budget, cases, temporary, legitimate public purpose, wage increase, contractual right, fiscal crisis, self-serving, employees, courts, taxes, substantial impairment, summary judgment, public contract, district court, obligations, regulation, municipal, stability, Reserves, payroll, salary

Constitutional Law, Congressional Duties & Powers, Contracts Clause, General Overview, Governments, State & Territorial Governments, Claims By & Against, Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Appropriateness, Appeals, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review, Genuine Disputes, Application & Interpretation, Legislation, Scope, The Judiciary, Bill of Rights, Fundamental Rights, Eminent Domain & Takings