Bowen v. City of New York

RESPONDENT: City of New York
LOCATION: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

DOCKET NO.: 84-1923
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 476 US 467 (1986)
ARGUED: Feb 26, 1986
DECIDED: Jun 02, 1986

Edwin S. Kneedler - on behalf of the petitioners
Frederick A.O. Schwarz, Jr. - on behalf of the respondents

Facts of the case


Media for Bowen v. City of New York

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 26, 1986 in Bowen v. City of New York

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Bowen against City of New York.

Mr. Kneedler, I think you may proceed when you are ready.

Edwin S. Kneedler:

Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court, this case presents important questions of subject matter jurisdiction of a Federal District Court in cases arising under the Social Security Act.

Congress granted its consent to such suits when it enacted Section 405(g) of Title 42.

But Congress imposed two specific restrictions on that waiver of sovereign immunity.

First, Congress has provided that judicial review is available only after

"the Secretary's final decision, after a hearing. "

And secondly, judicial review is available only if the individual commences an action within 60 days after the mailing to him of the notice of the final decision or within such further time as the Secretary may allow.

This Court has repeatedly made clear in Yamasaki and Diaz and Salfi that in order for a person to be include as a member of a class, he must individually satisfy the jurisdictional requirements of that section.

In other words, in order to be included in the class, he has to have been to file his own individual suit when the suit was filled.

The Courts of Appeals in this case completely disregard these principles.

Respondents brought this suit to challenge the manner in which evidence of mental impairment was being evaluated by the New York State Agency under several regulation issued by the Secretary to implement the statutory definition of disability.

Any member of the class in this case who disagreed with a state agency's decision that he was able to work and therefore was not disabled within the meaning of the Act was free to take an administrative appeal to the ALJ, to the appeals Counsel, and then to seek judicial review in District Court.

In fact, in this case seven of the eight individuals who are claimants in this case did go to the ALJ stage.

Several of those were awarded benefits by the ALJ.

Others were denied benefits on grounds unrelated to the policy of which the claimants object in this case.

Although the thousands of unnamed class members in this case were explicitly informed that they, too, had a right to seek further review, including going to the ALJ and appeals counsel, they declined to do so.

When they declined to seek review in 60 days, their decisions became final and binding against them, and they therefore accepted the consequence that those decisions were in effect res judicata.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Well, Mr. Kneedler, I guess the problem is that the District Court founds that the Secretary's policy involved in this case was a covert one.

It had been hidden from public scrutiny.

How is somebody who doesn't know of the policy at all or have a reason to know according to the District Court's finding going to meet the requirement, and that is why you have to meet the so-called tolling argument, I think.

Edwin S. Kneedler:

The District Court labeled the policy secret, but all it could have meant by secret, I submit, is that--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Didn't it label it covert?

Edwin S. Kneedler:

--I don't know if that word was used specifically, but--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

And you didn't file any challenge to that in this court?

Edwin S. Kneedler:

--Well, it wasn't... if what the courts below meant by that was there was some affirmative act of concealment of what was going on, then we certainly do dispute that.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

But you didn't raise it in the cert petition, did you?

Edwin S. Kneedler:

Oh, yes, I think it is at Page... on the second to--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

But dispute to that finding?

Edwin S. Kneedler:

--Not as a separate question as such.