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Saleh v. State

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

May 23, 2018

Mohamed O. Saleh et al. Plaintiff,
State of Florida etc., Defendants.


          Patricia D. Barksdale United States Magistrate Judge

         In 2011, plaintiff Mohamed Saleh was convicted of a misdemeanor in Nevada in connection with prescribing controlled substances to patients and thereafter was terminated from participating in the Florida Medicaid program and unable to renew his Florida medical license. Now proceeding without a lawyer and purportedly on behalf of himself, his ex-wife, and his five daughters, he seeks to sue fifteen defendants related to those troubles, contending they have conspired against him to prevent him from renewing his license, sully his reputation, and keep him penniless. Doc. 16. Pending are motions to proceed in forma pauperis and for an ex parte hearing. Docs. 4, 15. This report and recommendation reviews the amended complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and recommends dismissal and termination of the pending motions.


         On December 29, 2017, Saleh filed a two-count, eleven-page, 147-paragraph complaint with twenty-eight exhibits against thirty-three defendants, including former congresswoman Corrine Brown, Doc. 1; a motion for a temporary restraining order, Doc. 2; a motion to appoint counsel and pay $15, 000 for initial expenses, Doc. 3; and a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, Doc. 4. The motion for a temporary restraining order concerned a January 8, 2018, contempt hearing in a marriage dissolution action in state court. Doc. 2. The Court denied without prejudice both the motion for a temporary restraining order, Doc. 7, and the motion to appoint counsel and pay $15, 000 for initial expenses, Doc. 17.

         In the order denying the motion for a temporary restraining order, the Court observed the complaint is “disjointed, ” “convoluted, ” and “almost entirely indecipherable” and includes “numerous conclusory allegations and irrelevant facts” and “a rambling litany of unrelated allegations about various defendants and the myriad ways they have harmed him and interfere with dissolution proceedings.” Doc. 7 at 2, 3, 12. The Court detailed the pleading standards and found the complaint was a prohibited shotgun pleading. Doc. 7 at 6-10. The Court explained, “Here, where Plaintiff incorporates all of his often irrelevant allegations into each claim, without specifying which facts support the elements of each claim, he falls short of the pleading requirements necessary for successfully stating a claim for relief.” Doc. 7 at 8. The Court continued, “Of equal concern is the fact that the Complaint does not clearly set forth which Defendant or Defendants are being sued as to each claim.” Doc. 7 at 9. The Court also detailed the law on subject-matter jurisdiction, Younger abstention, and the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and found the Court could not determine from the complaint if it had jurisdiction, if the claims were frivolous, if he stated a claim on which relief may be granted, and if he was seeking damages from anyone immune from liability for damages. Doc. 7 at 10-13.

         The Court struck the complaint and gave Saleh a chance to amend, emphasizing any amended complaint should comply with the pleading standards the Court had detailed (including setting forth a short and plain statement of the claims demonstrating entitlement to relief) and include “sufficient and relevant detail of the factual basis for each of his claims and how each Defendant is responsible.” Doc. 7 at 10. The Court directed him to resources for litigants without lawyers and cautioned him the Court would not rewrite a pleading to find a claim. Doc. 7 at 16-17.[1]

         Following a court-approved extension, Doc. 14, Saleh timely filed an amended complaint, Doc. 16. With it, he filed a motion requesting a “pre-trial ex parte hearing with the Magistrate Judge to address a non dispositive matter.” Doc. 15 at 1. In that motion, he states he lives in a home appraised at $1.7 million, owns commercial property valued at $1.2 million, and qualifies for a $625, 000 mortgage, and yet risks homelessness because he has not paid real estate taxes and has been “blocked” from obtaining the mortgage based on a $460, 000 lien by the state judge in the marriage dissolution action. Doc. 15 at 1-2. He thinks the lawyer representing his ex-wife is colluding with the judge and seeks intervention in that action to “stop this madness.” Doc. 15 at 2.

         The Amended Complaint

         The amended complaint is a seven-count, thirty-page, 234-plus-paragraph complaint with twenty pages of exhibits against fifteen defendants. Docs. 16-1, 16-2, 16-3. The defendants are: the State of Nevada; the Office of the District Attorney for Clark County, Nevada; the Drug Enforcement Administration's (“DEA's”) Las Vegas Field Office; Thomas Carroll (Chief Deputy District Attorney for Clark County, Nevada); Kendra Still (Public Safety Agent with the DEA's Las Vegas Field Office); Michael Becker (a lawyer in Las Vegas); the State of Florida; the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration; the Florida Department of Health; the Florida State Board of Medicine; Horace Dozier (Field Office Manager for the Florida Medicaid Integrity Office); Claudia Kemp (Executive Director of the Florida Board of Medicine); Carmen Gilley (Senior Regulatory Specialist with the Florida Department of Health); an “unknown respondent with political influence in Florida and Nevada”; and an “unknown respondent with influence in [the] local legal community.”[2] Doc. 16 at 1, 3-5.

         In the amended complaint, Saleh includes many conclusions of law and citations to legal authority, omitted here. He alleges these facts.

         Saleh has lived in Jacksonville since 1989 and became a United States citizen in 1990. Doc. 16 at 4. From May 2006 to November 2010, he and his family lived in Jacksonville, and he commuted weekly from Duval County, Florida, to Clark County, Nevada. Doc. 16 at 3-4. From 2000 to 2010, his company-The Center for Medicine and Wellness, Inc.-reported earnings of $8, 645, 902. Doc. 16 at 27.

         Between June 2006 and October 2010, Saleh wrote 3, 070 prescriptions in Nevada for controlled substances for legitimate patients in a legitimate medical office with proper documentation while holding licenses to practice medicine in Nevada. Doc. 16 at 19. The only thing he was missing was a license to prescribe controlled substances in Nevada. Doc. 16 at 20. He recalls submitting an application and payment for that license but does not recall if he received a response. Doc. 16 at 20.

         On January 11, 2011, Saleh was in Las Vegas for a routine disciplinary hearing by the Nevada Board of Pharmacy for infractions relating to writing prescriptions for controlled substances for patients in Nevada without the license to prescribe controlled substances in Nevada. Doc. 16 at 6-7, 19-20. Accompanying him for “daddy time” weekend was his five-year-old daughter. Doc. 16 at 7. On exiting the hearing room, DEA agents surrounded him but, on examining a valid DEA license he possessed, apologized and left. Doc. 16 at 20. Then defendant Kendra Still (DEA Public Safety Agent), without a warrant, approached him, handcuffed him (humiliating him in front of his daughter), led him to a conference room 200 feet away, and removed the handcuffs. Doc. 16 at 20; see Doc. 16-3 at 1-2 (arrest report). She twice asked if he was intoxicated. Doc. 16 at 20. He repeatedly told her to administer a drug test, but she ignored him. Doc. 16 at 21. That evening, she and a male DEA agent took his daughter to the home of Heather Jahanbin, Saleh's former office administrator who was always drunk and fired for stealing. Doc. 16 at 7, 21. His daughter spent the night with the “shady” former employee or was given to Saleh's ex-wife in violation of an order in the marriage dissolution action. Doc. 16 at 21. The arrest was against instructions given to Still the day earlier by Paul Rozario-a higher ranking DEA Special Agent in the Las Vegas Field Office. Doc. 16 at 6-7.

         On March 29, 2011, District Attorney David Roger “essentially dismissed” the charges underlying the arrest. Doc. 16 at 6, 21-22; Doc. 16-3 at 4. Years later, trying to understand why he would have been arrested, Saleh found a summons to him dated January 10, 2011, that commanded him to send the DEA's Las Vegas Field Office copies of medical files of six named patients. Doc. 16 at 21; Doc. 16-3 at 7.

         On May 11, 2011, Folio Weekly magazine published a five-page article about Saleh and used a “Faustian” photograph of him on the cover, hurting his reputation. Doc. 16 at 5.

         On October 25, 2011, defendant Thomas Carroll (Chief Deputy District Attorney for Clark County, Nevada), filed a criminal information against Saleh for “conspiracy to commit unlawful dispensing of controlled substance (gross misdemeanor), ” in which he listed the names of three of Saleh's established patients, in violation of their privacy rights. Doc. 16 at 7-8; Doc. 16-3 at 5-6. Saleh retained defendant Michael Becker with the Las Vegas Defense Group. Doc. 16 at 24. Becker “summoned” Saleh to his office and told him Carroll would reinstate the charges dismissed by Roger unless Saleh pleaded guilty to the gross misdemeanor. Doc. 16 at 22. Saleh did not read the information because he assumed Becker had. Doc. 16 at 22. Neither Saleh nor Becker knew the charge had been changed to the more serious charge of conspiracy. Doc. 16 at 22. Saleh refused to plead guilty because he believed the charge was based on “inane paperwork charges that had already been dismissed six months earlier.” Doc. 16 at 23. But Becker told him Carroll had threatened to bring 3, 070 felony charges against him unless he pleaded guilty to the single gross misdemeanor charge. Doc. 16 at 23. Becker placed a form in front of him and directed him to sign it, resulting in psychological coercion. Doc. 16 at 25. On October 25, 2011, Saleh pleaded guilty to the gross misdemeanor, understanding he was pleading to “one count of writing a prescription for controlled substances without a Nevada state authorization” and adjudication would be withheld given his clean criminal record. Doc. 16 at 7, 23. He did not know he was pleading guilty to a conspiracy charge. Doc. 16 at 23. He was fined $2, 000. Doc. 16 at 23.

         On September 10, 2012, defendant Horace Dozier (Field Office Manager for the Florida Medicaid Integrity Office) conducted a formal hearing with employees of defendant Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration without notifying Saleh and terminated him from participation in the Florida Medicaid program. Doc. 16 at 8; Doc. 16-3 at 11-12. The decision was made despite that, on September 12, 2012, the Florida Department of Children and Families-a close affiliate of the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration-stated it had reviewed Saleh's criminal history and found nothing that would disqualify him from serving in the “North West Behavioral Health” program, which is “90% Medicaid driven.” Doc. 16 at 8; Doc. 16-3 at 13.

         On December 10, 2012, unknown employees of defendant Florida Department of Health met and denied renewal of Saleh's Florida medical license because of his termination from the Florida Medicaid program. Doc. 16 at 9.

         On January 23, 2013, Saleh received a letter from the Duval County Medical Society expressing concerns that the Florida Department of Health had not received his application to renew his medical license and encouraging him to submit the application by January 31, 2013. Doc. 16 at 9. The Duval County Medical Society does not send renewal application reminders; in his thirty years of practice, Saleh has never received a reminder; and he has always waited until the last minute to submit a renewal application to ensure satisfaction of required continuing medical education. Doc. 16 at 9. Saleh contends, “The only conclusion is that somebody at the Department of Health was waiting to ...

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