United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITHOUT PREJUDICE
MORALSS HOWARD United Slates District Judge
Felix LC Rodriguez, an inmate of the Florida penal system,
initiated this action on March 9, 2017, by filing a pro se
Civil Rights Complaint Form (Complaint; Doc. 1). Rodriguez
names Belkis C. Plata and Diana L. Johnson as defendants. In
the Complaint, Rodriguez asserts claims of ineffective
assistance of counsel, negligence, fraud, breach of fiduciary
duty, and breach of contract. As relief, he seeks monetary
Prison Litigation Reform Act requires the Court to dismiss
this case at any time if the Court determines that the action
is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a
defendant who is immune from suit relief. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) - (iii). With respect to
whether a complaint “fails to state a claim on which
relief may be granted, ” the language of §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) mirrors that of Rule 12(b)(6), Federal
Rules of Criminal Procedure, as such courts apply the same
standard in both contexts. Mitchell v. Farcass, 112
F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir. 1997); see also Alba v.
Montford, 517 F.3d 1249, 1252 (11th Cir. 2008).
“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, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “Labels and conclusions”
or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause
of action” that amount to “naked
assertions” will not do. Id. (quotation and
citation omitted). Moreover, a complaint must “contain
either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the
material elements necessary to sustain a recovery under some
viable legal theory.” Roe v. Aware Woman Ctr. For
Choice, Inc., 253 F.3d 678, 683-84 (11th Cir. 2001)
(internal quotation and citation omitted). In conducting this
review, of course the Court is mindful of its obligation to
read a pro se litigants allegations in a liberal fashion.
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972).
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege that (1) the defendant deprived him of a right secured
under the United States Constitution or federal law, and (2)
such deprivation occurred under color of state law.
Salvato v. Miley, 790 F.3d 1286, 1295 (11th Cir.
2015); Bingham v. Thomas, 654 F.3d 1171, 1175 (11th
Cir. 2011) (per curiam) (citation omitted); Richardson v.
Johnson, 598 F.3d 734, 737 (11th Cir. 2010) (per curiam)
(citations omitted). To satisfy the “under color of
state law” element, a defendant's actions must be
“fairly attributable to the State” which requires
that the defendant must be a “person who may fairly be
said to be a state actor.” Lugar v. Edmondson Oil.
Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937 (1982). The Supreme Court has
unequivocally stated that “a lawyer representing a
client is not, by virtue of being an officer of the court, a
state actor ‘under the color of state law' within
the meaning of § 1983.” Polk Cty. v.
Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 318 (1981).
Complaint, Rodriguez asserts claims against Plata, his trial
attorney and Johnson, his appellate attorney, who were both
appointed by the State court to represent Rodriguez in a
criminal case. Rodriguez alleges that Plata (1) refused to
investigate witnesses and physical evidence, (2) refused to
file pre-trial motions, and (3) “reneged on her
agreement to do the job for which she was appointed.”
Complaint at 6. With respect to Johnson, Rodriguez alleges
that Johnson refused to appeal the denial of his motion to
recuse the judge in his criminal case and intentionally
“omitted a material fact” from his appeal.
Complaint at 6. All of Rodriguez's allegations are based
on actions Defendants allegedly took or failed to take while
representing him as counsel in the criminal case, and as
such, fail to demonstrate that Defendants acted “under
color of state law.” Indeed, it is well established
that “[p]ublic defenders do not act under color of
state law for purposes of section 1983 when performing a
lawyer's traditional functions as counsel to a defendant
in a criminal proceeding.” Wusiya v. City of Miami
Beach, 614 F.App'x 389, 392 (11th Cir. 2015)
(internal quotations omitted); see also Dodson, 454
U.S. at 325. Therefore, Rodriguez has failed to allege facts
suggesting that any constitutional deprivation occurred
“under color of state law.” As such, pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court will dismiss
without prejudice the alleged § 1983 claims.
the Court dismisses Rodriguez's arguable state law
claims. Because Rodriguez does not demonstrate that the Court
has original jurisdiction over his state law claims, the
Court may only entertain the remaining state law claims by
exercising its supplemental jurisdiction. See 28
U.S.C. § 1367(a). “The decision to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over pend[e]nt state claims rests
within the discretion of the district court.” Raney
v. Allstate Ins. Co., 370 F.3d 1086, 1088-89 (11th Cir.
2004) (citing Mergens v. Dreyfoos, 166 F.3d 1114,
1119 (11th Cir.1999)). The Court may decline to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over a claim if:
(1) the claim raises a novel or complex issue of State law,
(2) the claim substantially predominates over the claim or
claims over which the district court has original
(3) the district court has dismissed all claims over which it
has original jurisdiction, or
(4) in exceptional circumstances, there are other compelling
reasons for declining jurisdiction.
28 U.S.C. § 1367(c). “Where § 1367(c)
applies, considerations of judicial economy, convenience,
fairness, and comity may influence the court's discretion
to exercise supplemental jurisdiction.” Baggett v.
First Nat'l Bank of Gainesville, 117 F.3d 1342, 1353
(11th Cir. 1997); see Palmer v. Hosp. Auth. of Randolph
Cty., 22 F.3d 1559, 1569 (11th Cir. 1994) (“If the
court decides that it has the discretion, under section
1367(c), to decline jurisdiction in this case, it should
consider the traditional rationales for pendent jurisdiction,
including judicial economy and convenience, in deciding
whether or not to exercise that jurisdiction.”). Where,
as here, a plaintiff's federal claims are dismissed prior
to trial, the Eleventh Circuit has “encouraged district
courts to dismiss any remaining state claims.”
Raney v. Allstate Ins. Co., 370 F.3d 1086, 1089
(11th Cir. 2004). As such, in consideration of the interests
of judicial economy and convenience, the Court declines to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Rodriguez's state
law claims. Accordingly, it is ORDERED and ADJUDGED:
1. This case is DISMISSED without prejudice.
2. The Clerk of Court shall enter judgment dismissing this
case without prejudice, terminate any pending motions, ...