United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS AND MOTION FOR A
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
workforce training organization claims the Maine Governor and
the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor (MDOL)
failed to make funds available to it in a manner and time
frame that federal law requires. The local workforce
organization, Coastal Counties Workforce, Inc. (CCWI), seeks
declaratory and injunctive relief under the Workforce
Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA, the Act) and 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, against Governor Paul R. LePage and Commissioner
John Butera (Defendants). The Defendants filed a motion to
dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, arguing that WIOA does not provide CCWI a private
right of action.
Court denies the Defendants' motion to dismiss because it
concludes that WIOA does provide CCWI a right enforceable
through § 1983: the right to the prompt pass through of
federal funds through the state of Maine on a program year
basis. The Court grants CCWI's motion for a preliminary
injunction because it will likely prevail on the merits, two
of the other factors weigh in its favor, and the last, the
public policy question, is in equipoise.
October 24, 2017, CCWI filed a complaint and a motion for
temporary restraining order (TRO). Compl. (ECF No.
1); Pl.'s Mot. for a TRO (ECF No. 3). Six days
later, on October 30, 2017, the Court held a status
conference with the parties. Min. Entry for Telephone
Conference (ECF No. 7).
the conference, the Court ordered the parties to confer and,
if unable to resolve the lawsuit, to discuss scheduling
further written submissions and discovery issues.
Order (ECF No. 8). The Court indicated that if the
parties could not agree on scheduling issues, the Court would
issue a scheduling order. Id.
November 9, 2017, the Court held a second telephone status
conference. Min. Entry for Telephone Conference (ECF
No. 12). The Defendants agreed to make certain funds
available to CCWI for Program Year 2016 (PY16), but the
parties did not fully resolve the lawsuit, with funds for
Program Year 2017 (PY17) still contested. With some of the
urgency removed, counsel for CCWI agreed to pursue a
preliminary injunction, rather than a TRO. Accordingly, the
Court dismissed CCWI's motion for a TRO without prejudice
on the same day. Order (ECF No. 13). Counsel for the
Defendants stated they intended to file a motion to dismiss.
On November 13, 2017, the Court issued a scheduling order for
the upcoming motions and a testimonial hearing.
Pre-Hr'g Scheduling Order (ECF No. 14).
November 17, 2017, CCWI filed a motion for a preliminary
injunction. Pl.'s Mot. for Prelim. Inj. (ECF No.
16) (Pl.'s Inj. Mot.). On December 6, 2017, the
Defendants filed their response in opposition to the motion
for a preliminary injunction. Defs. Paul R. Lepage and
John Butera's Mem. of Law in Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot.
for a Prelim. Inj. (ECF No. 24) (Defs.' Inj.
Opp'n). On December 14, 2017, CCWI filed its reply.
Pl.'s Reply Mem. of Law in Support of Mot. for
Prelim. Inj. (ECF No. 35) (Pl.'s Inj.
November 17, 2017, the Defendants filed a motion to dismiss
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
Defs. Paul R. LePage and John Butera's Mot. to
Dismiss (ECF No. 17) (Defs.' 12(b)(6)
Mot.). On November 29, 2017, CCWI filed its response in
opposition to the Defendants' motion. Pl.'s
Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss (ECF No. 20)
(Pl.'s 12(b)(6) Opp'n). On December 4, 2017,
the Defendants filed their reply. Defs. Paul R. LePage
and John Butera's Reply Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to
Dismiss (ECF No. 23) (Defs.' 12(b)(6)
December 18, 2017, the Court held an evidentiary hearing and
heard oral argument at the close of the hearing. Min.
Entry for Hr'g (ECF No. 39).
Statutory Background: WIOA
passed WIOA in 2014. Workforce Innovation and Opportunity
Act, Pub. L. No. 113-128, 128 Stat. 1425 (2014). The purposes
of WIOA include “increas[ing] . . . access to and
opportunities for the employment, education, training, and
support services” and the “alignment of workforce
investment, education, and economic development systems in
support of a comprehensive, accessible, and high- quality
workforce development system.” 29 U.S.C. § 3101.
The Act authorizes appropriations for fiscal years 2015 to
2020 and directs those funds to state and local workforce
development efforts. Id. § 3181.
receive the federal funds, the Act requires local areas and
states to set up a series of boards to administer the
program. A state's governor establishes a state workforce
development board (SWDB), composed of the governor, a member
of each chamber of the state legislature, business leaders,
and officials from labor organizations. Id. §
3111(a)-(b). The state board assists the governor in
developing a state plan, as well as in overseeing the
workforce development system, and in identifying aspects in
need of improvement. Id. § 3111(d). A governor
must submit a state plan on a four-year basis to the
Secretary of Labor for approval. Id. § 3112(a),
(c). A state plan must include details about the workforce
development system, including how the federal funds will be
used, the local areas designated in the state, and
performance and accountability measures. Id.
§§ 3112(b), 3141.
governor must designate local areas to administer the
education and training programs within a state based on
considerations such as labor market factors, regional
economic development, and the availability of resources.
Id. § 3121(b). A governor and local chief
elected officials, like county commissioners, must establish
local workforce development boards. Id. §
3122(a), (c). Local boards must be composed of individuals
from groups like local business leaders, officials from labor
organizations, and members of economic and community
development entities. Id. § 3122(b). Each local
board submits a comprehensive local plan to the governor for
approval on a four-year basis. Id. § 3123(a).
The local plan outlines how designated entities and providers
within the local area will implement the workforce
development programs and carry out training, and specifies
performance and accountability measures. Id.
§§ 3123(b), 3141.
governor approves the local plans, the Secretary approves the
state plan, and Congress appropriates federal funds, the
Secretary makes allotments to each state based on funding
formulae specified in the statute. Id. §§
3162, 3172. A governor may reserve certain percentages of the
funds for statewide purposes but then must make allotments to
each of the local areas based on statutory funding formulae.
Id. §§ 3163, 3173. The funds “shall
be available for obligation only on the basis of a program
year” running from July 1 to the following June 30.
Id. § 3249(g). Funds the states and local areas
receive during one program year “may be expended during
that program year and the succeeding program year.”
statute requires the “prompt allocation of funds”
at each level of administration. Id. § 3242.
All funds the Secretary allots to the states “shall be
allotted within 45 days after the date of enactment of the
Act appropriating the funds.” Id. §
3242(c). The funds a governor is required to allot to the
local area “shall be made available . . . for a local
area not later than 30 days after the date the funds are made
available” to the governor “or 7 days after the
date the local plan for the area is approved, whichever is
later.” Id. § 3242(e).
The Parties and Maine's Workforce Training
LePage is the Governor of the state of Maine. Compl.
¶ 8. John Butera is the Commissioner of MDOL.
Id. ¶ 9. CCWI is a Maine non-profit corporation
with a principal place of business in Brunswick, Maine.
Id. ¶ 7.
are three Local Workforce Investment Areas in Maine, each
with its own Local Workforce Development Board. Id.
¶ 14; Stipulation of Facts ¶¶ 9-11
(ECF No. 32) (Stipulations). The local areas consist
of the Coastal Counties Region (York, Cumberland, Sagadahoc,
Lincoln, Waldo, and Knox Counties); the Northeastern Region
(Aroostook, Piscataquis, Penobscot, Hancock, and Washington
Counties); and the Central/Western Region (Somerset,
Franklin, Oxford, Androscoggin, and Kennebec Counties).
Compl. ¶ 15; Stipulations ¶¶
9-11. Under the current system, the local boards and the
local chief elected officials delegate the administration and
oversight of WIOA funds to an entity created for that purpose
for each of the three local areas (the workforce groups).
Compl. ¶ 22; Stipulations ¶¶
12-13. The workforce groups are largely or entirely funded by
money Congress allocated under WIOA. Compl. ¶
the entity the local board and the chief elected officials
created to oversee the use of WIOA funds for the Coastal
Counties Region. Compl. ¶ 27;
Stipulations ¶ 13. CCWI uses the allocation of
approximately $3 million each year to fund programs designed
to help dislocated workers, low income adults, and young
adults with barriers to employment throughout the Coastal
Counties Region. Compl. ¶ 28.
letter dated June 6, 2016, the former Commissioner of MDOL,
writing as the designee for Governor LePage, confirmed that
CCWI had been granted local area designation for the Coastal
Counties Region. Compl. ¶ 29. By letter dated
September 12, 2016, the former Commissioner of the MDOL
granted conditional approval of the Coastal Counties
Workforce Board's 2016-2020 local plan. Id.
¶ 30; Stipulations ¶ 16. This conditional
approval remains in effect today. Id. CCWI has
satisfied the conditions MDOL imposed. Id. USDOL
approved Maine's State Plan on October 20, 2016.
Stipulations ¶ 4.
the process for making WIOA funds available to the local
workforce groups is the execution of an agreement for each
program year between the state of Maine and each local
workforce group. Compl. ¶ 31. For all previous
years in which MDOL distributed WIOA funds, the local
workforce group agreements covered the entire program year.
Id. ¶ 32. The local workforce groups say they
require agreements for full program years in order to
effectively plan and operate their programs. Id.
¶ 34. As a general practice, WIOA funds are expended on
a FIFO (first in, first out) accounting basis, as to
particular types of expenditures. Stipulations
¶33. Before expending PY17 WIOA funds, CCWI's
service provider must expend its PY16 funds; similarly before
expending its PY17 WIOA administrative funds, CCWI must
expend its PY16 administrative funds. Id.
Defendants' Dissatisfaction with the Current
Administration of the Workforce Development System
LePage has repeatedly sought to eliminate the local areas and
local boards in favor of a single state-wide system.
Id. ¶ 17. In November, 2012, the Secretary of
the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) rejected
Governor LePage's plan to re-designate the local areas to
more closely match Maine's Chamber of Commerce regions,
under WIOA's predecessor statute, WIA. Pl.'s
Ex. 1. In a letter dated July 11, 2017, Governor LePage
wrote to Secretary Acosta, requesting that Maine be granted
“single State local area designation.”
Id. ¶ 18; Joint Ex. 1. This was at
least the second time the Governor had made a similar
request. Compl. ¶ 19. By letter sent on August
30, 2017, the Secretary rejected the Governor's request
because it was not permissible under WIOA. Id.
¶ 20; Joint Ex. 2. In September, 2017, the
Governor sought to remove the State from the funding process
in order to have the federal agency fund the local areas
directly. Pl.'s Ex. 3-4.
The Conflict over Program Year 2016 and 2017 Funds
PY16, the Secretary made $9, 372, 636 in WIOA funds available
to Governor LePage. Compl. ¶ 35; Notice
Regarding PY 2016 WIOA Allotments, 81 Fed. Reg. 22640
(April 18, 2016). The PY16 funds were made available to
Governor LePage in June 2016. Id. ¶ 36. On July
7, 2016 the state of Maine entered into a contract with CCWI
for CCWI's full share of the PY16 WIOA funds.
Id. ¶ 37; Joint Ex. 10;
Stipulations ¶ 18.
PY17, the Secretary made $8, 393, 050 in WIOA funds available
to Governor LePage. Compl. ¶ 38; Notice
Regarding PY 2017 WIOA Allotments, 825 Fed. Reg. 27529
(June 15, 2017). The Secretary made the PY17 funds available
to Governor LePage in a series of awards on June 22, 2017,
July 14, 2017, and October 24, 2017. Compl. ¶
39; Stipulations ¶¶ 19-21.
7, 2017, MDOL offered CCWI a partial-year agreement for some
of the PY17 funds. Compl. ¶ 43; Defs.'
Ex. 1 ¶ 9-10; Defs.' Ex. 14 at 2. On
August 2, 2017, CCWI sent a letter to Commissioner Butera to
“formally complain/grieve” a violation of WIOA
because MDOL had not yet made a portion of the PY17 funds
available on a full program year basis. Defs.'
Ex. 11. On August 15, 2017, MDOL found no contractual
violation because it believed partial year contracts were
permissible under WIOA, based on guidance from a USDOL grant
officer. Defs.' Ex. 12. On September 20, 2017,
CCWI wrote to the Secretary in order to
“complain/grieve” MDOL's decision.
Defs.' Ex. 13.
September 7, 2017, Governor LePage wrote to the Secretary and
stated that “Maine is no longer participating in the
WIOA Title 1B program. We ask that no more of these funds be
sent to the Maine Department of Labor.” Id.
¶ 44; Joint Ex. 3. On September 20, 2017,
Secretary Acosta responded that he “hope[d] to continue
to work with” Governor LePage and suggested “two
vehicles” for the Governor to consider, redesignation
of the local areas within the State and seeking congressional
action to modify WIOA. Joint Ex. 4.
letter dated October 23, 2017, MDOL purported to terminate
CCWI's contract for the remaining PY16 funds.
Compl. ¶ 41; Joint Ex. 5. That letter
indicated that MDOL would only reimburse costs CCWI incurred
until November 30, 2017. Id. Three days later, on
October 26, 2017, shortly after CCWI filed this lawsuit, the
Defendants rescinded the October 23, 2017 letter and agreed
to make the PY16 WIOA funds available to the local workforce
groups as before. Joint Ex. 6-7.
LePage, either personally in his official capacity, or
through his designees, including Commissioner Butera, has
refused or otherwise failed to make the PY17 WIOA funds
available in their entirety to the three local workforce
groups. Compl. ¶ 42. The Defendants have
refused to issue contracts with the local workforce groups
for all of PY17. Id. ¶ 43. Instead, on November
1, 2017, MDOL offered to enter into a funding agreement with
the local areas, conditioned upon submitting a budget that
complied with a new sixty-percent training spending
requirement. Stipulations ¶ 26; Joint
State Plan contained a similar forty-percent training
requirement, but the current State Plan rescinded that
policy, and the sixty-percent requirement is not in the
current State Plan. Stipulations ¶¶ 29-30.
On December 1, 2017, the State Board met, considered the
sixty-percent requirement at the Governor's request, and
rejected the policy. Stipulations ¶ 31.
LePage directed and approved of all actions taken by state
officials with regards to: (1) the PY16 and PY17 funds
allocated to the local boards, including CCWI; (2) all
efforts to change Maine's participation in WIOA; (3) all
efforts to change the administrative structure of the WIOA
program in Maine; and (4) all efforts to impose a
sixty-percent minimum training expenditure requirement on the
local boards. Stipulations ¶ 25. Commissioner
Butera, with authority from the Governor, directed and
approved of all actions taken by state officials with regard
to the issuance of partial year award agreements for PY17.
The Impact of the Funding Conflict
July 1, 2017, CCWI has continued to submit expenses and draw
down 2016 funds. Stipulations ¶ 22. On October
26, 2017, approximately $731, 153.56 remained of the PY16
funds allocated to CCWI. Id. As of November 30,
2017, $583, 715.28 remained available to CCWI from PY16
funds. Stipulations ¶ 23. Since it filed this
lawsuit on October 24, 2017, CCWI has drawn down funds in the
amount of $218, 880 from PY16 funds. Stipulations
PY16 WIOA funds are keeping CCWI's doors open and
allowing it to offer limited services to workers and
businesses through this first half of PY17. Id.
¶ 54. If the PY17 WIOA funds are not promptly made
available, CCWI will be forced to cease all workforce
training operations under WIOA by the end of January 2018,
and CCWI's other independent funding will run out later
in the year, forcing it to shut down completely by the end of
June 2018. Id. ¶ 55; see also Pl.'s
Inj. Mot. at 6 (ECF No. 16). WIOA funds represent
seventy-five-percent of CCWI's budget for the PY17
period. Compl. ¶ 55. The remaining
twenty-five-percent comes from stand-alone grants which
support programs that rely on the infrastructure funded by
WIOA funds. Id.
year, CCWI received 49, 213 customer visits through the local
CareerCenters and affiliate offices. Id. ¶ 47.
Of those visits, 16, 512 customers required additional
workforce services. Id. ¶ 48. In PY16, CCWI
assisted 564 workers in obtaining employment at an average
annual wage of $29, 456, adding approximately $16.7 million
to the state's economy. Id. ¶ 49. There are
currently approximately 908 adult, youth, and dislocated
workers enrolled in workforce intensive services or training.
Id. ¶ 50. A majority of these visits and
services will be adversely affected or completely eliminated
if the local workforce groups lose funding. Id.
¶¶ 46, 51. Approximately 500 Maine employers will
be adversely affected by not being able to obtain trained
workers or receive business services. Id. ¶ 52.
Other grants involving non-WIOA funds that are administered
by CCWI for the benefit of Maine businesses and employers
will be terminated should CCWI cease operating. Id.
has already begun curtailing the services it is funding for
workers and employers. Id. ¶ 56. Service
providers for CCWI and the other local workforce groups are
beginning to lay off employees. Id. ¶ 57. If
forced to shut down its operations, CCWI anticipates that its
personnel will seek other job opportunities, it will lose its
other grants, and that it will be difficult, if not
impossible, to resume operations even if the funds are made
available at a later date. Id. ¶ 58. CCWI
anticipates the withholding of the funds to directly result
in approximately thirty workforce system jobs lost in the
Coastal Counties Region and seventy-five jobs statewide.
Id. ¶ 59. CCWI alleges this will cause
individual harm to those workers, and a greater harm though
the effect on the workforce training system. Id.
Once shut down, CCWI alleges the workforce training system
will be very difficult and expensive to rebuild. Id.
alleges that the Defendants' attempt to reject Title I
funds from WIOA could adversely affect the ability of the
State's workforce system to administer the other federal
programs, like Adult Education (Title II), Employment
Services (Title III), and Vocational Rehabilitation (Title
IV). Id. ¶ 60. CCWI claims that this could in
turn place the state of Maine out of compliance with the
mandates set forth by USDOL and WIOA, and that the loss of
Title 1 funding under WIOA will also cause harm to the
financial sustainability of multi-agency career centers, and
other multi-program service delivery sites that depend on it
to contribute to fixed operating expenses. Id.
Motion to Dismiss
12(b)(6) requires dismissal of a complaint that
“fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Under the general
pleading standards, a complaint must contain “a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). In
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), the United
States Supreme Court elaborated on this pleading standard in
the context of a motion to dismiss: “To survive a
motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.'” 556 U.S. at
678 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007)).
First Circuit explained that “[t]he plausibility
inquiry necessitates a two-step pavane.”
García-Catalán v. United States, 734
F.3d 100, 103 (1st Cir. 2013) (citing
Rodríguez-Reyes v. Molina-Rodríguez,
711 F.3d 49, 53 (1st Cir. 2013)). “First, the court
must distinguish ‘the complaint's factual
allegations (which must be accepted as true) from its
conclusory legal allegations (which need not be
credited).'” Id. (quoting Morales-Cruz
v. Univ. of P.R., 676 F.3d 220, 224 (1st Cir. 2012)).
“Second, the court must determine whether the factual
allegations are sufficient to support ‘the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.'” Id. (quoting Haley v. City
of Boston, 657 F.3d 39, 46 (1st Cir. 2011) (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678)).
Motion for a Preliminary Injunction
preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy
that is never awarded as of right.” Peoples Fed.
Sav. Bank v. People's United Bank, 672 F.3d 1, 8-9
(1st Cir. 2012); Voice of the Arab World, Inc. v. MDTV
Med. News Now, Inc., 645 F.3d 26, 32 (1st Cir. 2011);
accord Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555
U.S. 7, 24 (2008). When deciding whether to grant a motion
for preliminary injunction, the Court must carefully weigh
(1) the likelihood of success on the merits; (2) the
potential for irreparable harm [to the movant]; (3) the
balance of the relevant impositions, i.e., the hardship to
the nonmovant if enjoined as contrasted with the hardship to
the movant if no injunction issues; and (4) the effect (if
any) of the court's ruling on the public
Esso Standard Oil Co. v. Monroig-Zayas, 445 F.3d 13,
17-18 (1st Cir. 2006) (quoting Bl(a)ck Tea Soc'y v.
City of Boston, 378 F.3d 8, 11 (1st Cir. 2004)).
party seeking the preliminary injunction bears the burden of
establishing that these four factors weigh in its
favor.” Id. at 18. However, “[t]he sine
qua non of this four-part inquiry is likelihood of success on
the merits: if the moving party cannot demonstrate that he is
likely to succeed in his quest, the remaining factors become
matters of idle curiosity.” New Comm. Wireless
Servs., Inc. v. SprintCom, Inc., 287 F.3d 1, 9 (1st Cir.
2002); see Sindicato Puertorriqueño de
Trabajadores v. Fortuño, 699 F.3d 1, 7 (1st Cir.
2012) (confirming that this factor is the “most
important part of the preliminary injunction
assessment”) (citation omitted). Ultimately,
“trial courts have wide discretion in making judgments
regarding the appropriateness of [preliminary injunctive]
relief.” Francisco Sánchez v. Esso Standard
Oil Co., 572 F.3d 1, 14 (1st Cir. 2009).
THE PARTIES' POSITIONS
Likelihood of Success on the Merits
argues that it is likely to prevail on the merits because the
Defendants are depriving it “of a right secured by the
‘laws' of the United States” that is
enforceable under § 1983. Pl.'s Inj. Mot.
at 8-10. The Defendants respond that CCWI is unlikely to
prevail on the merits because WIOA does not confer a
“right” on CCWI that is enforceable under §
1983. Defs.' Inj. Mot. at 10-15. The Defendants
also respond that, if CCWI has a right under the statute,
they have not violated that right because they made offers
and CCWI refused to execute an agreement. Id. at
15-17. CCWI replies that the Defendants have violated their
right because the State may not impose unilateral
requirements on WIOA funds. Pl.'s Inj. Reply at
parties' arguments on the first prong of the preliminary
injunction analysis are inextricably bound up in the question
of whether CCWI has a right of action against the Governor
and the Commissioner, which implicates the arguments the
parties have made in their memoranda regarding the motion to
Governor LePage and Commissioner Butera's 12(b)(6)
Defendants argue that CCWI fails to state a claim because
their lawsuit is based on the erroneous assumption that WIOA
creates a federal right enforceable through 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Defs.' 12(b)(6) Mot. at 2. The Defendants
point out that when a plaintiff sues “under a federal
statute that does not confer an express or implied cause of
action, the lawsuit is properly dismissed for failure to
state a claim” under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). Id. (citing, among others,
Arroyo-Torres v. Ponce Federal Bank, F.B.S., 918
F.2d 276, 280 (1st Cir. 1990)). The Defendants contend that
all the most recent Supreme Court cases found the statute in
question did not confer a right in similar circumstances.
Id. at 6-8 (citing Armstrong v. Exceptional
Child Center, Inc., 135 S.Ct. 1378 (2015); Gonzaga
University v. Doe, 536 U.S. 273 (2002); Blessing v.
Freestone, 520 U.S. 329 (1997)).
Defendants further assert that alternate enforcement
mechanisms in WIOA indicate that Congress did not intend to
create a private right enforceable through § 1983.
Id. at 8, 10 (citing Middlesex County Sewerage
Authority v. National Sea Clammers Ass'n,
453 U.S. 1 (1981)). The Defendants insist that the funds are
subject to “negotiation of a contract” which
makes any entitlement CCWI might possess “vague and
amorphous” and thus unenforceable. Id. at 11.
The Defendants also maintain that the local workforce boards
are not the intended beneficiaries of WIOA, and are at most
“incidental beneficiaries.” Id.
Defendants next point to several cases decided under the
predecessor statute to WIOA, the Workforce Investment Act,
Pub. L. No. 105-220, 112 Stat. 936 (1998) (WIA).
Defs.' 12(b)(6) Mot. at 8-9 (citing Brown v.
Rotenberg, No.15-CV-6678 EAW, 2017 WL 3332241 (W.D.N.Y.
August 3, 2017); Machie v. Nguyen, 824 F.Supp.2d
146, 151 (D.D.C. 2011); Municipality of San Juan, et al.,
v. Human Resources Occupational Development Council, 371
F.Supp.2d 52 (D.P.R. 2005)). The Defendants concede that a
“limited number of cases allow[ed] a plaintiff to
pursue a § 1983 claim under WIA, ” but the
Defendants distinguish those cases on the basis that they
“involved claims of political discrimination” in
violation of provisions that are markedly different than the
one CCWI asserts. Id. at 9 (citing Caraballo
Seda v. Javier Rivera, 261 F.Supp.2d 76 (D.P.R. 2003)).
Defendants also argue that any claim that might have existed
is now moot as to the PY16 funds, which were made available
without restriction shortly after CCWI filed this lawsuit.
Id. at 5.
CCWI's 12(b)(6) Opposition
recites the three factors to determine whether a statute
creates a right enforceable under § 1983. Pl.'s
12(b)(6) Opp'n at 2-3 (citing Colon-Marrero v.
Velez, 813 F.3d 1, 38 (1st Cir. 2016);
Blessing, 520 U.S. at 340-41).
argues that the first factor, whether the provision was
intended to benefit the plaintiff, weighs in favor of finding
a right. Id. at 3-4. CCWI argues that 29 U.S.C.
§ 3242 uses language with an “unmistakable
focus on the benefited class” when it said that
funds shall be made available “for a local area.”
Id. (quoting Gonzaga, 536 U.S. at 284)
(emphasis in original); also citing Wilder v. Va. Hosp.
Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 468-469 (1990); Wright v.
Roanoke Redevelopment & Housing Authority, 479 U.S.
418 (1987)). CCWI distinguishes cases where the Supreme Court
did not find an individual right because in its view the
provisions had an aggregate focus, suggesting they were
“not concerned with whether the needs of any particular
person have been satisfied.” Id. at 3-5
(quoting Gonzaga, 536 U.S. at 288; also citing
Blessing, 520 U.S. at 342-344; Suter v. Artist
M., 503 U.S. 347, 363 (1992)).
characterizes the cases under WIA, the predecessor statute to
WIOA, as “inapt.” Id. at 7. CCWI points
out that WIA did not contain the provision at issue in this
case, and that none of those cases addressed similar issues
of funding pass-through requirements. Id. at 7-8.
Instead, CCWI analogizes to a recent decision from another
circuit finding an individual right. Id. at 8-9
(citing D.O. v. Glisson, 847 F.3d 374 (6th Cir.
contends that the other factors used to determine whether a
provision confers a right weigh in its favor. Id. at
9-10. CCWI claims the statute is not “so ‘vague
and amorphous' that its enforcement would strain judicial
competence” because it only requires a court to decide
a binary question, whether the funds have been made available
or not. Id. at 9. CCWI also emphasizes that the
provision uses mandatory rather than precatory terms, thereby
imposing a binding obligation. Id. at 9-10.
explains that once a court finds a provision confers a right,
that right is presumptively enforceable under § 1983 and
this presumption is only overcome if Congress indicated an
intent to foreclose that remedy. Id. at 10-11. CCWI
maintains that WIOA does not contain any comprehensive
alternate enforcement mechanism resembling the ones courts
have found sufficient to displace the availability of §
1983 relief. Id. at 11-13.
argues its claim is not moot as to the PY16 funds because the
“voluntary cessation of a challenged practice does not
deprive a federal court of its power to determine the
legality of the practice.” Id. at 13-15
(quoting Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Envtl.
Servs. (TOC), Inc., 528 U.S. 167, 189 (2000)).
CCWI insists that this case is not a contract dispute, where
the parties have the power to make offers with conditions
attached and decline to enter an agreement if they do not
agree to those conditions. Id. at 15-18. CCWI
emphasizes that, despite the use of the term
“contract” and “sub-recipient award
agreement, ” the state has no authority to create an
offer with additional conditions or decline to enter into an
agreement. Id. at 16-18. CCWI claims “the
State is responsible for ensuring that program funds are
spent according to the requirements of WIOA, the State Plan,
the Local Plan, and applicable federal grant accounting
regulations” but has no further discretion in making
funds available at the subaward stage. Id. at 17-18.
Governor LePage and Commissioner Butera's 12(b)(6)
Defendants argue that the intended beneficiaries of WIOA are
the “individuals needing employment, education,
training and support services, ” not the local
workforce entities, and Congress denied the beneficiaries any
right or entitlement to service. Defs.' 12(b)(6)
Reply at 2-3.
Defendants submit that the analytical framework set forth in
earlier cases from the Supreme Court relied upon by CCWI have
been “significantly undercut, if not ...