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Ullman v. Florida Department of Corrections

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Ocala Division

May 15, 2017

GINJER ULLMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, GUSTAVO MAZORRA, CARLOS RIOS, VAUGHN FOUST, JR., and JOHN DOE, Defendants.

          ORDER

          JAMES S. MOODY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Ginjer Ullman sued the Florida Department of Corrections and Gustavo Mazorra, the warden of Lowell Correctional Institution where Ullman was incarcerated, based on alleged rampant sexual misconduct by employees at Lowell. FDOC and Mazorra now move to dismiss alleging immunity under Florida law and the Eleventh Amendment, and arguing Ullman failed to allege proper pre-suit notice. The Court concludes neither FDOC nor Mazorra have stated grounds upon which any of the claims should be dismissed.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Ginjer Ullman was an inmate at Lowell Correctional Institution from March 18, 2011, to September 30, 2013. During that time, Ullman alleges she was subjected to sexual misconduct by Lowell employees. The alleged sexual misconduct included being coerced to have sex with Defendants Carlos Rios and Vaughn Foust, Jr. Ullman claims the sexual misconduct was a violation of Florida law and her Eighth Amendment rights.

         Defendant Gustavo Mazorra was the warden at Lowell while Ullman was incarcerated, and allegedly knew or should have known about the sexual misconduct. Ullman alleges Mazorra was negligent in hiring, supervising, and investigating the claims at Lowell, and that both Mazorra and the Florida Department of Corrections policies, practices, and customs encouraged or failed to prevent the sexual misconduct.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Ullman filed suit in Florida state court against FDOC, Mazorra, Rios, Foust, and a John Doe who supervised Rios and Foust. (Doc. 2). Before Ullman served Mazorra, Rios, and John Doe, Defendants FDOC and Foust removed the action to this Court. (Doc. 1).

         After removal, Ullman filed an Unopposed Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint (Doc. 25), which the Court granted. (Doc. 26). Ullman filed the Amended Complaint (Doc. 27), which is the subject of FDOC and Mazorra's motions to dismiss. The relevant claims against FDOC and Mazorra are as follows:

• Count III - Florida law claim against FDOC alleging respondeat superior liability for Mazorra's negligent hiring, supervision, and investigation;
• Count IV - 42 U.S.C. § 1983 allegations of municipal liability against FDOC alleging municipal liability;[1]
• Count VIII - 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against FDOC and Mazorra for deprivation of Ullman's Eight Amendment rights

         MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a complaint to be dismissed for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted. When reviewing a motion to dismiss, courts must limit their consideration to the well-pleaded allegations, documents central to or referred to in the complaint, and matters judicially noticed. See La Grasta v. First Union Securities, Inc., 358 F.3d 840, 845 (11th Cir. 2004) (internal citations omitted); Day v. Taylor, 400 F.3d 1272, 1276 (11th Cir. 2005). Courts must accept all factual allegations contained in the complaint as true, and view the facts in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93-94.

         Legal conclusions, however, “are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 664 (2009). In fact, “conclusory allegations, unwarranted factual deductions or legal conclusions masquerading as facts will not prevent dismissal.” Davila v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., 326 F.3d 1183, 1185 (11th Cir. 2003). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must instead contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). This plausibility standard is met when the plaintiff pleads ...


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