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Renner v. Supreme Court of Florida

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

July 26, 2018

SHERRI L. RENNER, Plaintiff,
v.
THE SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA, and THE FLORIDA BAR, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          CHARLES A. STAMPELOS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Sherri Renner, initiated this case pro se by filing a complaint on October 5, 2017, raising claims under the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and due process claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. ECF No. 1. The Defendant Supreme Court of Florida filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. ECF No. 11. Defendant The Florida Bar filed an answer and motion to dismiss, ECF No. 12, adopting the memorandum of law filed by the Supreme Court. Ms. Renner has filed opposition to both motions to dismiss. ECF Nos. 16, 17.

         Ms. Renner also filed a request for judicial notice, ECF No. 18, submitting a copy of a motion for rehearing which she filed in her underlying case in the Supreme Court of Florida. ECF No. 18-1. She requests that this Court find two facts: (1) [t]hat the motion was filed on October 5, 2017, the same day that this action was initiated, and (d) [t]hat rehearing was the relief requested.” ECF No. 18 at 2.

         Rule 201 of the Federal Rules of Evidence permits the Court to “judicially notice a fact that is not subject to reasonable dispute because . . . it can be accurately and readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.” Fed.R.Evid. 201(b)(2). Ms. Renner has supplied the Court with a copy of her motion. ECF No. 18-1.

         That motion, titled as “Respondent's Motion for Rehearing, ” is styled for the Supreme Court of Florida, case number SC17-1093. ECF No. 18-1 at 1. It is, indeed, a request for rehearing[1] under Rule 9.330(a), and contends the Florida Supreme Court “overlooked facts or misapprehended the law as applied to those facts . . . .” Id. The certificate of service at the end of the motion reveals that it was “e-filed” on October 5, 2017, id. at 5, as does the date stamp at the top of the document. Id. at 1. Ms. Renner has not advised whether her motion was granted or denied. Nevertheless, her motion for judicial notice is granted, and the fact that she filed a motion for rehearing on October 5, 2017, is noted.[2]

         Allegations of the Complaint

         Ms. Renner was admitted to The Florida Bar on February 18, 2005. ECF No. 1 at 3. “On June 9, 2017, Defendant Florida Bar filed with Defendant Florida Supreme Court a petition for contempt and order to show cause.” Id. at 4. The complaint alleges that the Bar prepared the petition with knowledge “that there was no good faith basis for its assertion that Plaintiff's license should be revoked.” Id. Further, the “Court essentially ‘rubber stamped' the Bar's petition and order the Plaintiff's license revoked without due process, without just cause, and in furtherance of its goal of purging Bar membership rolls of people deemed unfit to practice.” Id. Ms. Renner contends that the Court's applicable rules are “devoid of procedure” which permits the Bar to “maintain a ‘civil rights free zone' in which they could, with impunity, purge Bar membership rolls of people deemed unfit to practice.” Id. at 5.

         The complaint acknowledges that Ms. Renner has “a long-past history of mental health treatment, ” and asserts she “is a qualified person with a disability within the meaning of the Rehabilitation and Americans with Disabilities Acts.” Id. She alleges that Defendants have excluded her “from participation in, and denied her the benefits of its programs or activities, because of her status as a qualified person with a disability.” Id. Further, Ms. Renner asserts that the Court has intentionally been deliberately indifferent “to the rights of people who are licensed to practice law in the State of Florida but who qualify for protections under the Rehabilitation and Americans with Disabilities Acts.” Id. She alleges the Defendants have subjected her to discrimination, which has caused her “severe harm.” Id.

         The complaint alleges a violation of the Rehabilitation Act against the Court (count 1) and the Bar (count 2), a violation of the ADA against the Court (count 3) and the Bar (count 4), and due process violations against both the Court (count 5) and the Bar (count 6). ECF No. 1 at 6. As relief, Ms. Renner seeks one million dollars. Id. at 6-7.

         Motion to Dismiss

         Defendants clarify that the complaint arises from an order issued by the Supreme Court “on September 20, 2017, revoking Plaintiff's conditional admission to the Bar.” ECF No. 11 at 1. Ms. Renner's “revocation was initiated by a petition for contempt filed by the Bar.” Id. at 2. The Supreme Court issued an order to show cause, Ms. Renner filed a response, and after review, the Court entered “a unanimous decision” revoking her “conditional admission because it found her to be in contempt of its order granting her conditional admission.” Id. The motion to dismiss argues that dismissal is appropriate because the complaint is barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and sovereign immunity bars the due process claims brought under § 1983. ECF No. 11 at 2-9. Finally, it is argued that the complaint fails to state a cause of action, and no “highly personal” or “stigmatizing information” was made public. Id. at 9-13.

         Standard of Review The issue on whether a complaint should be dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 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 reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 at 556); see also Speaker v. U.S. Dep't of Health, 623 F.3d 1371, 1380 (11th Cir. 2010). “The plausibility standard” is not the same as a “probability requirement, ” and “asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). A complaint that “pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, ” falls “short of the line between possibility and plausibility.” Iqbal, 129556 U.S. at 677 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         The requirements of Rule 8 do “not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. A complaint does not need detailed factual allegations to survive a motion to dismiss, but Rule 8 “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully- harmed-me accusation.” 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Thus, “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).

         AnalysisA. ...


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