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Crespo v. Florida Commission On Defender Review

United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division

April 2, 2017




         On December 1, 2016, Defendant filed a second motion to dismiss, ECF No. 19, the pro se Plaintiff's amended complaint, ECF No. 17. Plaintiff was advised of his obligation to file a memorandum in opposition to the motion and directed to do so no later than January 13, 2017. ECF No. 20.

         Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend the complaint, ECF No. 21, on December 13, 2016, simultaneously providing the proposed amended pleading, ECF No. 22. Plaintiff also filed a motion for joinder, ECF No. 23, in which Plaintiff states he wants to add another Defendant (Chairperson Coonrod) in this case. Defendant opposes Plaintiff's requests. ECF No. 24.

         On January 13, 2017, Plaintiff filed his response to Defendant's motion. ECF No. 25. Accordingly, all pending motions are addressed in this Report and Recommendation.

         Motions to Amend and for Joinder

         Plaintiff's proposed second amended complaint names the Florida Commission on Offender Review and Chairperson Melinda Coonrod as Defendants. ECF No. 22 at 2. The claims brought (1) challenge Rule 23-21.0155 (which permits suspending a presumptive parole release date) as unconstitutional; (2) the Commission violated Plaintiff's right to equal protection; (3) the Commission violated Plaintiff's due process right; (4) the Commission randomly suspends or extends prisoner's presumptive parole release dates in violation of due process. ECF No. 22 at 8-12. None of the factual allegations pertain to Chairman Coonrod; rather, the allegations address actions of the Commission. Therefore, the motions to amend and for joinder should be denied because the complaint does not sufficiently allege a basis for a claim against Chairman Coonrod.

         Moreover, the motions should be denied because adding Chairman Coonrod is duplicative and redundant. “[W]hen an officer is sued under Section 1983 in his or her official capacity, the suit is simply ‘another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is an agent.'” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. [159] at 165, 105 S.Ct. [3099] at 3105 [1985] (citing Monell v. Department of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690 n.55, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 2035 n.55, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978)) (quoted in Busby v. City of Orlando, 931 F.2d 764, 776 (11th Cir. 1991)). Claims brought against state officers in their official capacity are therefore, in actuality, suits directly against the state agency that the officer represents. Busby, 931 F.2d at 776; see also Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (“Obviously, state officials literally are persons. But a suit against a state official in his or her official capacity is not a suit against the official but rather is a suit against the official's office.”). Because adding Chairman Coonrad as a Defendant in her official capacity is redundant to the claim brought against the Commission, the motion for joinder should be denied. The claim is unnecessary and the proposed second amended complaint fails to state a claim against Defendant Coonrad. The motion to amend should also be denied.

         Motion to Dismiss

         The Commission filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's first amended complaint, ECF No. 17, as untimely. ECF No. 19 at 5. The Commission argues that Plaintiff is seeking to challenge “the suspension of his PPRD that occurred in December, 2011.” Id. Because this case was not initiated until July 25, 2016, [1] more than four years after entry of the challenged decision, the Commission contends the case is barred by Florida's four year limitation period. Id. at 5-6. The Commission also argues it is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity, id. at 6-8, and contend the amended complaint fails to state a claim. Id. at 8-13.

         Plaintiff's Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff's complaint alleges that on December 14, 2011, the Commission suspended Plaintiff's presumptive parole release date [PPRD] which had been established as November 26, 2011. ECF No. 17 at 5. Plaintiff alleged that the suspension violated his right to due process because the Commission order erroneously stated “it was based on a firearm that did not exist.” Id. at 5. On July 31, 2015, the Commission “entered a corrected order[2] removing the firearm factor, ” but reaffirmed that Plaintiff's PPRD remained “suspended based instead on a knife.” Id.

         Plaintiff further claimed that the Commission “discriminated against him by not extending his PPRD” for 2 years but, instead, “suspended his PPRD indefinitely.” Id. at 6, 9. He notes that other similarly situated inmates “had their PPRD's extended but not suspended.” Id. Plaintiff alleges that Florida law permits the Commission to extend or modify a PPRD, but he contends that the Commission is not authorized “to suspend or override the PPRD.” Id. at 7. As relief, Plaintiff requests declaratory and injunctive relief. Id. at 10.

         Standard of Review

         The issue on whether a complaint should be dismissed pursuant Rule 12(b)(6) for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted is whether the plaintiff has alleged enough plausible facts to support the claim stated. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (retiring the standard from Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). “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.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955).[3] “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the ...

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