United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
E. MENDOZA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
CAUSE is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion and
Memorandum for Leave to Proceed Anonymously (“Motion,
” Doc. 22) and Defendant's Response (Doc. 23).
United States Magistrate Judge Karla R. Spaulding issued a
Report and Recommendation (Doc. 24), which recommends denying
the Motion. Plaintiffs filed Objections (Doc. 27), and
Defendant filed a Response to Plaintiffs' Objections
(Doc. 31). As set forth below, while the Court agrees with
Judge Spaulding that Plaintiffs initially failed to meet
their burden with their four-page, unsupported Motion, they
subsequently supported the Motion with sufficient caselaw and
evidence to persuade the Court that the Motion should be
Plaintiffs challenge the
constitutionality of section 943.0435 of the Florida Statutes
(“the Act”), which sets forth Florida's
sexual offender registration and notification requirements.
(Am. Compl., Doc. 11, at 1-2). Each of the Plaintiffs was
convicted of a crime subjecting them to the requirements of
the Act. (Id. at 4-50). Plaintiffs allege that the
Act violates the Ex Post Facto and Contracts Clauses of the
United States Constitution, the Due Process Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment, and the First, Fifth, and Eighth
Amendments of the United States Constitution. (Id.
at 2). Plaintiffs are now seeking leave to proceed
anonymously, arguing that being forced to proceed under their
own names will require them to disclose matters of the utmost
intimacy and will subject them to physical violence and
Rule of Civil Procedure 10(b) states that “[t]he title
of the complaint must name all the parties.”
“This rule serves more than administrative convenience.
It protects the public's legitimate interest in knowing
all of the facts involved, including the identities of the
parties.” Doe v. Frank, 951 F.2d 320, 322
(11th Cir. 1992). “The ultimate test for permitting a
plaintiff to proceed anonymously is whether the plaintiff has
a substantial privacy right which outweighs the customary and
constitutionally-embedded presumption of openness in judicial
proceedings.” Id. at 323 (quotation omitted).
In making this determination, “the court should
carefully review all the circumstances of a given case and
then decide whether the customary practice of disclosing the
plaintiff's identity should yield to the plaintiff's
privacy concerns.” Plaintiff B v. Francis, 631
F.3d 1310, 1316 (11th Cir. 2011). Factors that are commonly
considered in this analysis include: (1) whether the
plaintiffs are challenging governmental activity; (2) whether
the plaintiffs will be required to disclose information of
the utmost intimacy; (3) whether the plaintiffs would be
compelled to admit their intention to engage in illegal
conduct; (4) whether the plaintiffs are minors; (5) whether
the plaintiffs will be subject to threats of violence by
proceeding under their own names; and (6) whether proceeding
anonymously will be fundamentally unfair to the defendant.
Id.; Frank, 951 F.2d at 323.
do not contend that this litigation could result in
Plaintiffs being compelled to admit their intention to engage
in illegal conduct nor is any Plaintiff alleged to be a
minor. The parties dispute whether the remaining factors and
other surrounding circumstances weigh in favor of allowing
Plaintiffs to proceed anonymously. Each will be addressed in
undisputed that Plaintiffs are challenging governmental
activity. However, this factor does not necessarily weigh in
favor of allowing Plaintiffs to proceed anonymously, it
merely mitigates the prejudice against Defendant because the
suit does not pose a risk of injury to the government's
reputation. Frank, 951 F.2d at 323-24. Thus, this
factor is neutral.
Information of the Utmost Intimacy
of the utmost intimacy that might justify allowing a
plaintiff to proceed anonymously has generally been found to
involve matters such as birth control, abortion,
homosexuality, transexuality, mental illness, welfare rights
of illegitimate children, and prayer and personal religious
beliefs.” Doe v. Compact Info. Sys., Inc.,
3:13-cv-5013-M, 2015 WL 11022761, at *4 (N.D. Tex. Jan. 26,
2015); Rowe v. Burton, 884 F.Supp. 1372, 1386 (D.
Alaska 1994). On the other hand, “[c]ourts have refused
requests to proceed anonymously in actions involving economic
matters, challenges to selective service registration, sexual
harassment under Title VII, termination of employment due to
alcoholism, and AIDS.” Rowe, 884 F.Supp. at
1386. “Moreover, even sexual assault (a matter
indisputably of a highly sensitive and personal nature) has
not been found to be so compelling in regard to its intimate
nature as to permit plaintiffs to proceed anonymously in
instances where the plaintiff is pursuing an action against
the alleged abuser.” Compact Info. Sys., Inc.,
2015 WL 11022761, at *4.
assert that because this litigation requires them to disclose
information regarding their underlying convictions, this
factor weighs in favor of anonymity. In the Report and
Recommendation, however, Judge Spaulding accurately explained
that the underlying convictions are already in the public
record and do not constitute matters of utmost intimacy.
(Doc. 24 at 4). This Court agrees. See Femedeer v.
Haun, 227 F.3d 1244, 1246 (10th Cir. 2000) (“While
we appreciate Appellee's interest in attempting to
prevent disclosure of his status as a sex offender, such
disclosure has presumably already occurred in the underlying
conviction.”); Rowe, 884 F.Supp. at 1387-88
(“[P]laintiffs here seek to limit dissemination of a
fact already public: that [they] have each pled no contest to
a sex offense. . . . [T]here simply is no disclosure of an
intensely private fact because the information is
already within the public domain.”). Accordingly, this
factor does not provide a basis for Plaintiffs to proceed