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Rossy v. Lupkin

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

May 17, 2017

FRANCIS O. ROSSY, Plaintiff,
SGT. LUPKIN, et al., Defendants.


          MARCIA MORALES HOWARD United States District Judge

         I. Status

         Plaintiff Francis O. Rossy, a former inmate of the Florida penal system, initiated this action on April 7, 2014, by filing a Civil Rights Complaint (Doc. 1) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He filed an Amended Complaint (Doc. 11) on November 28, 2014, and a Second Amended Complaint (SAC; Doc. 38) on January 9, 2017. In the SAC, Rossy names the following individuals as Defendants: (1) Clinch County, Georgia, Deputy Sheriff Gary Allen, (2) Hamilton County, Florida, Sheriff J. Harrell Reid, (3) Hamilton County Deputy Sergeant Lupkin, (4) Hamilton County Deputy Matthew Cribbs, (5) Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) Detainer and Release Coordinator Helen Arrington, and (6) FDOC Senior Counselor Matthew Herring. He asserts that the Defendants violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to procedural due process of law when they unlawfully arrested, detained, and extradited him to Georgia. He sues the Defendants in their individual and official capacities. As relief, Rossy seeks compensatory and punitive damages and declaratory and injunctive relief.

         This matter is before the Court on the following motions to dismiss: Defendants Reid, Lupkin, and Cribbs' Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint (Motion; Doc. 42) with exhibits (Def. Ex.); Defendant Clinch County Deputy Sheriff Gary Allen's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Allen Motion; Doc. 43); and Motion to Dismiss of Defendant Helen Arrington (Arrington Motion; Doc. 44). The Court advised Rossy that granting a motion to dismiss would be an adjudication of the case that could foreclose subsequent litigation on the matter, see Order (Doc. 17), and gave him an opportunity to respond, see Orders (Docs. 46, 49). Plaintiff filed responses in opposition to the motions to dismiss. See Plaintiff's Answer to Defendants Reid, Lupkin and Cribbs Motion to Dismiss (Response; Doc. 52); Brief in Support of His Answer to Defendant Allen's Motion to Dismiss (Brief; Doc. 54) with exhibits (P. Ex.); Brief in Support of His Answer to Defendant Arrington's Motion to Dismiss (Brief II; Doc. 58). The motions to dismiss are ripe for judicial review.

         II. Motion to Dismiss Standard

         In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept the factual allegations set forth in the complaint as true. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 508 n.1 (2002); see also Lotierzo v. Woman's World Med. Ctr., Inc., 278 F.3d 1180, 1182 (11th Cir. 2002). In addition, all reasonable inferences should be drawn in favor of the plaintiff. See Omar ex. rel. Cannon v. Lindsey, 334 F.3d 1246, 1247 (11th Cir. 2003) (per curiam). Nonetheless, the plaintiff must still meet some minimal pleading requirements. Jackson v. BellSouth Telecomm., 372 F.3d 1250, 1262-63 (11th Cir. 2004) (citations omitted). Indeed, while "[s]pecific facts are not necessary[, ]" the complaint should "'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Further, the plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); see Miljkovic v. Shafritz & Dinkin, P.A., 791 F.3d 1291, 1297 (11th Cir. 2015) (citation and footnote omitted). A "plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do[.]" Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotations omitted); see also Jackson, 372 F.3d at 1262 (explaining that "conclusory allegations, unwarranted deductions of facts or legal conclusions masquerading as facts will not prevent dismissal") (internal citation and quotations omitted). Indeed, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions[, ]" which simply "are not entitled to [an] assumption of truth." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 680. Thus, in ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court must determine whether the complaint contains "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face[.]'" Id. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

         III. Second Amended Complaint[1]

         Rossy asserts that Defendants Reid, Lupkin, Cribbs, Allen, and Arrington violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to procedural due process of law when they unlawfully arrested, detained, and extradited him to Georgia. According to Rossy, the FDOC released him from Hamilton Correctional Institution (HCI) in Hamilton County, Florida, on the morning of March 14, 2012, after Rossy had served a six-year term of incarceration, see SAC at 5; Defendant Herring "turned over" the custody of Rossy to Defendant Cribbs "without any papers, but under the oral view that an extradition warrant had been issued, " id.; Cribbs frisked, shackled and handcuffed Rossy and transported him to the Hamilton County Jail (HCJ) "under the apparent properly processed Governor's warrant" that the Georgia Governor requested, id.; Rossy requested to see documents supporting his detention, see id.; the documents were memoranda from Clinch County District Attorney Cathy Helms to Hamilton County Captain Williams stating that procedures had been initiated to obtain a Governor's warrant, see id.; Defendant Arrington instructed the FDOC to transfer Rossy to the custody of the Hamilton County Sheriff while the Governor's warrant and requisition were processed, see id. at 6; Rossy challenged his detention, pending extradition, and "authenticity of the documents" by filing a habeas petition in state court on April 9, 2012, id.; Rossy also requested counsel to assist him in litigating his case in state court, see id.; Defendant Allen, in the presence of Defendant Lupkin and other deputies, unlawfully removed Rossy from the HCJ before he had an opportunity to litigate his case in state court, see id.; Defendants Lupkin and Cribbs knew Rossy's habeas petition was still pending in state court when Rossy was extradited to Georgia, see id.; and Rossy objected to the extradition as a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and Florida law, see id.

         IV. Defendants' Motions to Dismiss

         Defendants Reid, Lupkin, and Cribbs seek dismissal of Rossy's claims against them because Rossy fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Motion at 1. They assert that: (1) Rossy's detention in the HCJ and subsequent extradition to Clinch County, Georgia, was lawful in accordance with Florida's Uniform Criminal Extradition law and did not violate a federal constitutional right, see id. at 5-7; (2) Rossy's SAC is the "functional equivalent" of a second habeas corpus petition, and therefore, the Court must dismiss it as a second or successive petition, id. at 7-8; (3) the defense of res judicata bars Rossy's action, see id. at 9-11; and (4) Rossy is neither entitled to monetary damages nor equitable relief, see id. at 11-13.

         Defendant Allen seeks dismissal of Rossy's claim against him. He asserts that Rossy's claim: (1) fails because the asserted facts do not show that Allen violated a right protected by the United States Constitution or federal law, see Allen Motion at 5-6; (2) is barred by qualified immunity to the extent Rossy sues Allen in his individual capacity, see id. at 7-8; and (3) is barred by the Eleventh Amendment to the extent Rossy sues Allen in his official capacity for monetary damages, see id. at 8-10. Allen also states that, even if Rossy's claim against him was allowed to proceed, Rossy would not be entitled to the requested relief because: (a) the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) prevents Rossy from recovering compensatory or punitive damages, see id. at 11-12; (b) declaratory relief is not available because Rossy has not alleged the existence of a continuing controversy or that the threat of future injury is immediate and definite, see id. at 12-13; and (c) neither a preliminary nor a permanent injunction is available because Rossy has not pled that irreparable harm will ensue if the Court does not grant injunctive relief, see id. at 13-14.

         Defendant Arrington seeks dismissal of Rossy's claims against her. She asserts that Rossy's claims for: (1) injunctive and declaratory relief should be dismissed as moot, see Arrington Motion at 4-5; (2) compensatory and punitive damages are barred by the PLRA, see id. at 5-6; and (3) monetary damages against her in her official capacity are barred by the Eleventh Amendment, see Id. at 7-8. She also states that: Rossy's claim against her does not allege any action on her part which led to denial of his procedural due process rights, see id. 8-10; he was given the due process required under the circumstances, see id. at 10-11; and the action is barred by a one-year statute of limitations, see id. at 11-12. Rossy filed responses in opposition to the motions to dismiss. See Response; Brief; Brief II.

         V. Extrinsic Evidence

         At the outset, the Court notes that the parties submitted several exhibits in support of, and in opposition to, the motions to dismiss. See generally Motion; Allen Motion; Brief. In addition, Defendants request that the Court take judicial notice of public records, including records maintained by the Superior Court, Clinch County, Georgia and "information available on the database maintained by the Hamilton County Florida Clerk of Court, " Motion at 2-3 n.1, as well as the state court's order denying Rossy's habeas petition, see Allen Motion at 6 n.1. When a party moves to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and matters outside of the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion is ordinarily treated as if it were a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56. See SFM Holdings, Ltd. v. Banc of Am. Sec., LLC, 600 F.3d 1334, 1337 (11th Cir. 2010); Jones v. Auto. Ins. Co. of Hartford, Conn., 917 F.2d 1528, 1531-32 (11th Cir. 1990). Nevertheless, the Eleventh Circuit has instructed that a district court may consider extrinsic evidence in ruling on a motion to dismiss "if it is (1) central to the plaintiff's claim, and (2) its authenticity is not challenged." SFM Holdings, 600 F.3d at 1337; see also Trustmark Ins. Co. v. ESLU, Inc., 299 F.3d 1265, 1267-68 (11th Cir. 2002). The Court, in its discretion, declines to consider any documents beyond those which comply with the above exceptions, and thus, the motions to dismiss will not be converted to motions for summary judgment. Harper v. Lawrence Cty., Ala., 592 F.3d 1227, 1232 (11th Cir. 2010); Jones, 917 F.2d at 1531-32.

         Under appropriate circumstances, a court may take judicial notice of and consider documents attached to a motion to dismiss or response, which are public records that are "central" to a plaintiff's claims, without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. Day v. Taylor, 400 F.3d 1272, 1276 (11th Cir. 2005) (citation omitted). This is so, as long as such documents are "public records that [are] 'not subject to reasonable dispute' because they [are] 'capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy [can] not reasonably be questioned.'" Horne v. Potter, 392 F.App'x 800, 802 (11th Cir. 2010) (per curiam) (quoting Fed.R.Evid. 201(b)). Moreover, "a court may take notice of another court's order . . . for the limited purpose of recognizing the 'judicial act' that the order represents or the subject matter of the litigation." United States v. Jones, 29 F.3d 1549, 1553 (11th Cir. 1994).

         Upon review of the motions to dismiss and Rossy's Brief, the Court notes that most of the exhibits submitted are public records which are not capable of reasonable dispute, and therefore appropriate for judicial notice. See Beepot v. J.P. Morgan Chase Nat'l Corp. Servs., Inc., 57 F.Supp.3d 1358, 1366 (M.D. Fla. 2014), aff'd, 626 F.App'x 935 (11th Cir. 2015). Notably, some of the exhibits attached to the motions to dismiss are documents that were filed in Rossy's prior state court criminal proceedings in the Superior Court of Clinch County, Georgia, [2] out of which the instant claims arose, as well as state court records in the Third Judicial Circuit, in and for Hamilton County, Florida.[3] Therefore, they are public records not capable of reasonable dispute, and appropriate for judicial notice. See Horne, 392 F.App'x at 802 ("The district court properly took judicial notice of the documents in [plaintiff's] first case . . . ."). Moreover, because the prior state court proceedings are central to Rossy's claims in this action, the Court will consider this evidence in ruling on the motions to dismiss. See Talley v. Columbus, Ga. Hous. Auth., 402 F.App'x 463, 465 n.4 (11th Cir. 2010) ("Although the district court was ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court properly examined extrinsic documents detailing [plaintiff's] previous state and federal court cases that related to the condemnation of his property: the cases were central to [plaintiff's] instant federal claim.").

         VI. Law and Conclusions

         A. Lack of Jurisdiction

         Defendants Reid, Lupkin, and Cribbs assert that the Court should dismiss Rossy's case for lack of jurisdiction because it is the "functional equivalent" of a second or successive habeas corpus petition that is not cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Motion at 7-8. Rossy opposes the request for dismissal, and asserts that he is entitled to litigate the issues underlying the alleged unlawful detention and extradition in a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Response at 5-6. Rossy's civil rights action is properly before this Court. See Harden v. Pataki, 320 F.3d 1289, 1299 (11th Cir. 2003) (recognizing that a claim asserting a violation of a prisoner's federally protected extradition rights is properly brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983). As such, Defendants Reid, Lupkin, and Cribbs' request to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction is due to be denied.

         B. Statute of Limitations

         Defendant Arrington asserts that the applicable statute of limitations is the one-year limitations period found in Florida Statutes section 95.11(5)(g). See Arrington Motion at 11-12. That section states in pertinent part: "[A]n action brought by or on behalf of a prisoner . . . relating to the conditions of the prisoner's confinement" must be brought within one year. Fla. Stat. § 95.11(5)(g). Rossy opposes Arrington's request to dismiss the action. See Brief II at 15. He asserts that the applicable statute of limitations is four years. See id. This Court agrees. "Claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 are subject to the statute of limitations period governing personal injury actions in the state where the action is brought." Wellons v. Comm'r, Ga. Dep't of Corr., 754 F.3d 1260, 1263 (11th Cir. 2014) (citation omitted); see Ealy v. GEO Grp., Inc., 667 F.App'x 739, 740 (11th Cir. 2016) (per curiam) ("This Court has on several occasions applied the four-year residual limitations period under Florida's personal injury statute, Florida Statutes § 95.11(3)(p), to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims."). A four-year limitations period under Florida Statutes section 95.11(3)(p) is applicable to Rossy's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims. Therefore, Defendant Arrington's request to dismiss the action as barred by Florida's one-year statute of limitations is due to be denied.

         C. Eleventh Amendment Immunity

         To the extent Defendant Arrington asserts that she is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity, this Court agrees.

The Eleventh Amendment provides that "[t]he Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State." U.S. Const. amend. XI. It is well established that, in the absence of consent, "a suit in which the State or one of its agencies or departments is named as the defendant is proscribed by the Eleventh Amendment." Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 276, 106 S.Ct. 2932, 92 L.Ed.2d 209 (1986) (quotation omitted). The Eleventh Amendment also prohibits suits against state officials where the state is the real party in interest, such that a plaintiff could not sue to have a state officer pay funds directly from the state treasury for the wrongful acts of the state. Summit Med. Assocs., P.C. v. Pryor, 180 F.3d 1326, 1336 (11th Cir. 1999). . . .

Hayes v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of Children & Families, 563 F.App'x 701, 703 (11th Cir. 2014) (per curiam).

         In Zatler v. Wainwright, 802 F.2d 397, 400 (11th Cir. 1986) (per curium), the Eleventh Circuit noted:

It is clear that Congress did not intend to abrogate a state's eleventh amendment immunity in section 1983 damage suits. Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 340-45, 99 S.Ct. 1139, 1144-45, 59 L.Ed.2d 358 (1979). Furthermore, after reviewing specific provisions of the Florida statutes, we recently concluded that Florida's limited waiver of sovereign immunity was not intended to encompass section 1983 suits for damages. See Gamble, [4] 779 F.2d at 1513-20.

         Accordingly, in Zatler, the court found that the FDOC Secretary was immune from suit in his official capacity. Id. Insofar as Rossy may be seeking monetary damages from Defendant Arrington in her official capacity, the Eleventh Amendment bars suit. Therefore, Defendant Arrington's Motion is due to be granted as to Rossy's claim for monetary damages from her in her official capacity.

         D. Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

         Defendants assert that Rossy's claims for declaratory and injunctive relief should be dismissed as moot since he is no longer in the custody of the Hamilton County Sheriff or FDOC. This Court agrees. According to the offender network, the FDOC released Rossy on March 14, 2012. See On April 11, 2012, Clinch County Deputy Sheriff Allen picked up Rossy for extradition to Georgia. See Def. Ex. 2; SAC at 6. Rossy currently resides at the Hays State Prison in Trion, Georgia. See (as of May 11, 2017). The general rule in this Circuit is that a transfer or a release of a prisoner from prison will moot that prisoner's claims for injunctive and declaratory relief. Zatler, 802 F.2d at 399. The rationale underlying this rule is that injunctive relief is "a prospective remedy, intended to prevent future injuries, " Adler v. Duval Cty. Sch. Bd., 112 F.3d 1475, 1477 (11th Cir. 1997), and, as a result, once the prisoner has been released or transferred, the court lacks the ability to grant injunctive relief and correct the conditions of which the prisoner complained. See Wahl v. McIver, 773 F.2d 1169, 1173 (11th Cir. 1985) (per curiam) (stating that a prisoner's past exposure to sub-par conditions in a prison "does not constitute a present case or controversy involving injunctive relief if unaccompanied by any continuing, present adverse effects"). Thus, Rossy's claims for declaratory and injunctive relief concerning events arising while in the custody of the FDOC or the Hamilton County Sheriff fail to present a case or controversy. Additionally, to the extent Rossy requests that the Court direct the Defendants to provide him with a letter of apology for their alleged unlawful actions, see SAC at 7, the Court does not have the authority to grant such relief. Therefore, Defendants' request to dismiss Rossy's claims for declaratory and injunctive relief as moot is due to be granted.

         E. Procedural ...

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