United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
WILLIAM F. JUNG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes to the Court on Defendant Hillsborough Area
Regional Transit Authority's (HART) Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1593's (ATU)
Amended Complaint. Dkt. 30. Plaintiff has responded in
opposition. Dkt. 31. The Court DENIES Defendant's Motion
is a labor organization representing bus drivers and
mechanics employed by Defendant, the government agency that
provides mass transit in the Tampa area. Dkt. 29 ¶¶
9-10. On February 13, 2019, Plaintiff and Defendant engaged
in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.
Id. ¶ 12. That day, Plaintiff held a rally at a
public transit center in Tampa at which several union members
distributed leaflets stating that Defendant's busing
practices threatened worker and passenger safety and health.
Id. ¶¶ 13-14. Plaintiff alleges that
during the rally, a HART supervisor told at least two union
members they would face disciplinary measures if they did not
cease leafleting. Id. ¶ 20. The members
immediately complied. Id.
that day, HART CEO Jeff Seward sent an email to ATU Vice
President Curtis Howard stating:
I have to say I am highly disappointed in ATU's approach
to negotiating with HART, specifically today's rallying
of our ATU membership to actively protest our organization on
HART property. I have directed Ms. Lee and Mr. Brackin to
ascertain the level of contract infraction this represents,
as I won't tolerate this behavior by our employees, or
the instigation of such behavior by your organization's
non-HART employee members.
Id. ¶ 22. Defendant's counsel sent Howard a
letter the same day stating that Defendant would sue
Plaintiff and its “agents” if they did not cease
their criticism of HART safety practices. Id. ¶
24. Plaintiff alleges that on February 14, 2019 HART
management placed a copy of that letter in the mailbox of
every hourly employee to threaten litigation if Plaintiff and
the employees continued to criticize Defendant. Id.
sole count is for a First Amendment violation under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Id. ¶¶ 38-39. Though
Plaintiff admits that Defendant has not taken any
disciplinary or legal actions against Plaintiff or union
members in response to the February 13 rally, Plaintiff
alleges that Defendant still exerts a chilling effect on
Plaintiff's First Amendment rights. Id. The
union members are now “more reluctant than before to
participate in criticism of HART's safety practices,
” and Plaintiff is “unwilling to subject [its
members] to disciplinary action” by encouraging them to
participate in a similar rally. Id. ¶¶
seeks a variety of relief, including declaratory and
injunctive. Id. at 8-9. Defendant moves to dismiss
the Amended Complaint under Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Dkt. 30 at 1.
12(b)(1) motion to dismiss challenges a court's subject
matter jurisdiction on either facial or factual grounds.
McElmurray v. Consol. Gov't of Augusta-Richmond
Cty., 501 F.3d 1244, 1251 (11th Cir. 2007). Because
Defendant brings a facial attack against Plaintiff, the Court
must see if Plaintiff “has sufficiently alleged a basis
of subject matter jurisdiction, and the allegations in his
complaint are taken as true for the purposes of the
motion.” Lawrence v. Dunbar, 919 F.2d 1525,
1529 (11th Cir. 1990) (citation omitted).
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, Plaintiff must
plead sufficient facts to bring a claim that is
“plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted). The
Court accepts all factual allegations as true and views them
in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. Pielage v.
McConnell, 516 F.3d 1282, 1284 (11th Cir. 2008)
(citation omitted). Courts limit their analysis to the
“well-pleaded factual allegations, documents central to
or referenced in the complaint, and matters judicially
noticed.” La Grasta v. First Union Sec., Inc.,
358 F.3d 840, 845 (11th Cir. 2004) (citations omitted).
Court finds that Plaintiff has standing and has stated a
plausible First Amendment claim. The Court ...