United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division
SHERRI L. RENNER, Plaintiff,
THE SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA and THE FLORIDA BAR, Defendants.
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
L. Hinkle United States District Judge.
plaintiff has a history of mental-health treatment. She
became a conditional member of The Florida Bar but eventually
stopped complying with her conditions and was disbarred. She
asserts claims for damages against the Bar and the Florida
Supreme Court. This order grants their motions to dismiss.
plaintiff is Sherri L. Renner. The Florida Bar admitted her
as member in 2005 but imposed conditions because of her
history of mental-health treatment. Ms. Renner was required
to consult at least monthly with a licensed mental-health
provider, to have the provider submit quarterly reports to
the Bar, to submit her own quarterly statements to the Bar
attesting to her compliance with the conditions, and to pay a
quarterly monitoring fee.
Renner did not contest the conditions at that time. But she
asked the Bar to remove the conditions in 2010, asserting,
among other things, that the conditions were unnecessary and
that continuing them would violate the Americans with
the Bar's standard practice, removal of the conditions
could occur only if Ms. Renner paid for an examination by a
Bar-approved mental-health provider and the provider gave a
favorable opinion. That did not occur. The Bar did not
respond to Ms. Renner's request for information on how
she could challenge the conditions. She decided to stop
complying with the conditions-her strategy for challenging
the refusal to remove the conditions. At that point the Bar
told her she could challenge its refusal to remove the
conditions through a motion in the Florida Supreme Court, but
she decided instead to continue with her strategy of
filed a disciplinary petition in the Florida Supreme Court.
The Court disbarred Ms. Renner for willfully failing to
comply with her conditions. Neither the Bar nor the Court
provided Ms. Renner an opportunity to present evidence or to
be heard in a meaningful manner on whether the conditions
were in fact unnecessary.
Renner brought this action for damages against the Bar and
the Court. She asserts claims under the ADA and the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The substantive standards under
the two statutes are the same in relevant respects, and for
convenience, this order usually refers only to the ADA, not
also to the Rehabilitation Act, except when discussing the
Rehabilitation Act's separate jurisdictional
requirements. See Cash v. Smith, 231 F.3d 1301, 1305
(11th Cir. 2000) (“Discrimination claims under the
Rehabilitation Act are governed by the same standards used in
and the Court have filed separate motions to dismiss the
amended complaint on grounds that include failure to state a
claim on which relief can be granted and Eleventh Amendment
immunity. The motions have been fully briefed and are ripe
for a decision.
survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a
plaintiff must plead “factual content that allows the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). For purposes of a
motion to dismiss, the complaint's factual allegations,
though not its legal conclusions, must be accepted as true.
Id.; see also Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).
motion to dismiss is not the vehicle by which the truth of a
plaintiff's factual allegations should be judged.
Instead, it remains true, after Twombly and
Iqbal as before, that “federal courts and
litigants must rely on summary judgment and control of
discovery to weed out unmeritorious claims sooner rather than
later.” Leatherman v. Tarrant Cty. Narcotics
Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163,
motion to dismiss for lack jurisdiction-this includes
Eleventh Amendment immunity-can properly challenge the
sufficiency of a complaint's jurisdictional
allegations or the sufficiency of the actual
facts to establish jurisdiction. See,
e.g., Cable/Home Commc'n Corp. v. Network
Prods., Inc., 902 F.2d 829, 855 (11th Cir. 1990). Here
the motions assert Eleventh Amendment immunity primarily
based on the amended complaint's allegations; to
that extent the factual allegations must be accepted as true.
The motions also rely on evidence to establish the facts
relevant to Eleventh Amendment immunity from the
Rehabilitation Act claims. To that extent the facts must be
determined based on the evidence, with genuine disputes
resolved in the plaintiff's favor.
prohibits a public entity from discriminating against a
“qualified individual with a disability.” 42
U.S.C. § 12132. A “disability” is “a
physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one
or more major life activities, ” or “a record of
such an impairment, ” or “being regarded as
having such an impairment.” Id. §
12102(1). An individual is “regarded as having such an
impairment” if the individual “has been subjected
to an action prohibited [by the ADA] because of an actual or
perceived physical or mental impairment whether or not the
impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life
activity.” Id. § 12012(3)(A).
amended complaint alleges that Ms. Renner has a history of
mental-health treatment but gives no details. The amended
complaint does not allege that Ms. Renner currently suffers
an impairment that substantially limits a major life
activity. Nor does it allege that she ever suffered such an
impairment. But the amended complaint does allege that Ms.
Renner suffered discrimination-she was subjected to
burdensome conditions and eventually disbarred-because of a
perceived mental impairment. This is a sufficient allegation
that the ADA applies to Ms. Renner.
side has identified the defendants' alleged violations
with the precision necessary for proper analysis under the
ADA and the Eleventh Amendment. At some points the two sides
have talked past one another, not understanding the other
side's position. When Ms. Renner's claims are