Supreme Court has distinguished between individual suits and
class actions in applying the doctrine of mootness. However, we
disagree with Williams' contention that the Supreme Court would
relax the Lyons standing requirements in class actions.
In Sosna v. Iowa, 419 U.S. 393, 95 S.Ct. 553, 42 L.Ed.2d 532
(1975), the Supreme Court held that although the named
plaintiff's individual claim became moot after a class had been
certified, the entire action was not rendered moot. Id., 419
U.S. at 401-02, 95 S.Ct. at 558-59. The Court extended this
class action exception to certain cases in which the named
plaintiff's case expired before the district court ruled on the
class certification motion in Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103,
110 n. 11, 95 S.Ct. 854, 861 n. 11, 43 L.Ed.2d 54 (1975). And
in United States Parole Commission v. Geraghty, 445 U.S. 388,
100 S.Ct. 1202, 63 L.Ed.2d 479 (1980), the Court held that a
named plaintiff whose claim had become moot could still
challenge the district court's refusal to certify a class. Id.,
445 U.S. at 404, 100 S.Ct. at 1212.
However, in each of those cases — unlike Williams' situation
— the named plaintiffs had standing to sue for injunctive
relief at the beginning of the litigation. This distinction is
critical. As the Court noted in Sosna, "Our conclusion that
this case is not moot in no way detracts from the firmly
established requirement that the judicial power of Art. III
courts extends only to `cases and controversies' specified in
that Article. There must . . . be a named plaintiff who has
such a case or controversy at the time the complaint is
filed. . . ." Sosna, 419 U.S. at 402, 95 S.Ct. at 559.*fn3
Thus, we do not believe the Supreme Court would allow a
plaintiff like Williams, who never had standing to sue for
injunctive relief on her own behalf, to claim standing to sue
for such relief on behalf of a class.
One reported case, however, does adopt Williams' position. In
Lewis v. Tully, 99 F.R.D. 632 (N.D.Ill. 1983), another judge in
this district held that a plaintiff could seek injunctive
relief on behalf of a class in spite of the fact that he did
not satisfy the Lyons standing test. The court in Lewis held
that the Lyons test should be applied to the class as a whole
rather than to the named plaintiff, and that the named
plaintiff had a sufficient personal stake in the litigation
where he had been subjected to the allegedly illegal conduct in
the past — although he personally was no longer subjected to
the challenged conduct and could not allege a real and
immediate threat that he would suffer injury in the future.
We respectfully disagree with the Lewis court's conclusions.
In the first place, the court gives short shrift to certain
aspects of Lyons. Although Lyons does not appear to involve a
class action, the plaintiff in that case sought preliminary and
permanent injunctive relief which would benefit not only
himself but every person who dealt with the Los Angeles police.
Moreover, to justify the general bar against chokeholds that he
sought, the plaintiff alleged that numerous persons had been
injured or killed from such holds, and that he and others
similarly situated were threatened with irreparable injury. In
ruling that the plaintiff lacked standing, the Supreme Court
relied heavily on O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 94 S.Ct.
669, 38 L.Ed.2d 674 (1974), a class action in which the Court
held that none of the named plaintiffs had alleged a case or
controversy. The Court also ruled that the claim in Lyons was
not one which is "capable of repetition, yet evades review,"
stating that "the capable-of-repetition doctrine applies only
in exceptional situations, and generally only where the named
plaintiff can make a reasonable showing that he will again be
subjected to the alleged illegality." Lyons, 461 U.S. at 109,
103 S.Ct. at
1669 (emphasis added and citation omitted).*fn4
The Lewis court recognizes the Supreme Court's reliance on
O'Shea, but distinguishes O'Shea "because, unlike in that case,
the prospect of future injury here was not `conjectural.'"
Lewis, 99 F.R.D. at 641 n. 9. However, the future injury the
court refers to is that of the class, not the named plaintiff.
Later in the Lewis opinion the court acknowledges, and then
quickly avoids, the harsh fact that O'Shea was a class action:
"As far as any class action problem posed by O'Shea is
concerned, we note only that O'Shea preceded Gerstein
and Geraghty, on which we have relied here." Id. at 644 n.
The Lewis court in fact bases much of its reasoning on the
Supreme Court's purportedly flexible attitudes towards class
actions, as expressed in Geraghty. Id. at 639-40. Moreover, the
court considers the issues of mootness and standing to be
essentially indistinguishable. Id. at 639. However, the court
overlooks the fact that in Geraghty the Supreme Court expressly
limited its holding to the appeal of the denial of a class
certification motion. Geraghty, 445 U.S. at 404, 100 S.Ct. at
1213.*fn6 Given this explicit limitation, as well as the
distinction between mootness and standing the Supreme Court has
made (as in the portion of Sosna quoted above), we think it
ill-advised to read too much flexibility in the Court's views
The Supreme Court has conceded that "the prior cases [on
standing and mootness] may be said to be somewhat confusing,
and that some, perhaps, are irreconcilable with others."
Id., 445 U.S. at 406 n. 11, 100 S.Ct. at 1214 n. 11. While the
Court has indeed sent out conflicting signals concerning these
issues, the message of Lyons is clear: a plaintiff may not sue
for injunctive relief without showing a real and immediate
threat of future injury. We believe the Court would insist that
this standing requirement be satisfied in both individual and
class actions.*fn7 Thus, Williams does not have standing to
seek a preliminary injunction or any other injunctive (or
Accordingly, the City's motion to dismiss is granted.*fn8 It
is so ordered.