Abulkadir et al v. Hardin et al
OPINION AND ORDER re: 136 MOTION to dismiss for failure to state a claim and Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction. Defendants Glades County, Glades Correctional Development Corporation, David Hardon, John Booher, Sr., and Michelle Su mmers shall file a response to Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint no later than November 5, 2020. Because this matter is set for mediation today, the Clerk shall immediately deliver a copy of this Order by email to the mediator, James Nulman, Esquire. Signed by Judge Sheri Polster Chappell on 10/15/2020. (SLU)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
FORT MYERS DIVISION
YASIN ABDULKADIR, NOOR
ABIYOW, ABDIKADIR GURE,
ISMAEL ABDIRASHED and AWEYS
DAVID HARDIN, KEITH
HENSON, JOHN BOOHER, SR.,
MICHELLE SUMMERS, GLADES
CORPORATION, JIM MARTIN,
JUAN ACOSTA, JORGE L
DOMINGUEZ, JOSEPH J.
BROWN and GLADES COUNTY,
OPINION AND ORDER1
Before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s First Amended
Complaint for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction and Failure to State a Claim filed
by Defendants Glades County, Glades Correctional Development Corporation,
David Hardon, John Booher, Sr., and Michelle Summers 2 (Doc. 136). Plaintiffs
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filed a response in opposition. (Doc. 139). For the following reasons, the Court
denies the Motion to Dismiss.
Plaintiffs, five former immigration detainees and Somali nationals, who are
proceeding on their First Amended Complaint (FAC), allege actions undertaken by
the defendants restricted or substantially burdened their ability to practice their
Muslim religion while held in Glades County Detention Center (GCDC). (See
generally Doc. 132). The FAC alleges four counts,3 three of which are alleged
against the Glades Defendants: (1) Violation of the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act (RLIUPA);4 (2) Violation of the Florida Religious
Freedom Restoration Act (FRFRA);5 and (3) Violation of the First And Fourteenth
Amendments under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
The FAC seeks damages against all
Collectively referred to in this Order as “the Glades Defendants.”
Fourth Count alleges a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000 bb et seq. against ICE officials Martin, Acosta, Dominguez and Brown in their individual
capacity. This action is stayed against the individual federal defendants pending the Supreme
Court’s decision Tanzin v. Tanvir, No. 19-71, 2019 WL 6222538 (Mem.).
Section 3 of RLUIPA, which concerns institutionalized persons, states:
No government shall impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person residing
in or confined to an institution, ... even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability,
unless the government demonstrates that imposition of the burden on that person—
(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
42 U.S.C. § 2000cc–1(a)
The Act provides that “[t]he government shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of
religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability,” unless the government
can demonstrate the burden furthers “a compelling government interest” and is “the least
restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.” Fla. Stat. §§ 761.01-.05.
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defendants, costs and attorney fees. No declaratory or injunctive relief is requested
in the FAC.
The Glades Defendants seeks dismissal of the FAC on the grounds that: (1)
the FAC is shotgun pleading; (2) the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction
because and Plaintiffs’ claims for injunctive relief are mooted because they no
longer are detained in GCDC and the Glades Defendants are entitled to sovereign
immunity for claim for money damages under the RLIUPA and FRFRA; and (3)
the FAC fails to state claim upon which relief can be granted under 42 U.S.C. §
The Court need only briefly address each ground for dismissal sought by the
Glades County Defendants.
Defendants argue the FAC is a shotgun pleading and violates Fed. R. Civ. P.
8(a)(2) and 10(b). A shotgun pleading is one that “fails to give the defendants
adequate notice of the claims against them and the grounds upon which each claim
rests.” Weiland v. Palm Beach Cty. Sheriff's Office, 792 F.3d 1313, 1323 (11th Cir.
2015). Defendants argue that the FAC is deficient because Plaintiffs adopt the
antecedent allegations by reference into each count for relief. While the FAC realleges the factual allegations for each count (¶¶ 1-115); the counts are not realleged and re-incorporated into successive counts. The Eleventh Circuit has
expressly stated this pleading tactic does not create a shotgun pleading. See Id. at
1324. (“Weiland's re-alleging of paragraphs 1 through 49 at the beginning of each
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count looks, at first glance, like the most common type of shotgun pleading. But it
is not.”). The U.S. Supreme Court explained that the purpose of the pleading rules
were to “give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.” Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957). The Court
finds the factual allegations in the FAC are clearly stated and well-organized and
provide the Glades Defendants with fair notice of Plaintiffs’ claims. The Court
finds the FAC is not a shotgun pleading.
Mootness & Immunity
Defendants next argue that because Plaintiffs no longer are detained in
GCDC their claims under RLUIPA and FRFRA must be dismissed. The FAC seeks
no injunctive relief. Thus, that Plaintiffs are no longer detained does not moot
Plaintiffs’ claims for monetary damages. Whether the Glades County Defendants
are entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity turns on whether each of the
Corporation, David Hardon, John Booher, Sr., and Michelle Summers) was
operating as an arm of the state as analyzed by the function test in Manders v. Lee,
338 F.3d 1304, 1308 n. 8 (11th Cir. 2003)(en banc). See also McMillian v. Monroe
County, 520 U.S. 781, 785 (1997). At this stage of the proceedings, the Court finds
no grounds to conclude that the Glades Defendants were operating as an arm of
the state.6 Thus, based upon the pleadings, the Court finds the Glades County
This Court offers no opinion as to whether the Glades Defendants were operating as an arm of
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Defendants have not demonstrated they are entitled to Eleventh Amendment
Immunity for violations of the RLUIPA or Florida state sovereign immunity for
violations of FRFRA. See e.g. Abusaid v. Hillsborough County Bd. Of County
Com’rs, 405 F.3d 1298, 1314 (11th Cir. 2005); Howlett v. Rose, 496 U.S. 356 (1990)
Failure to State a Claim
Finally, Defendants contend that the FAC does not state a constitutional
violation under the First Amendment. The Court disagrees that the FAC does not
plausibly state a First Amendment claim. At this stage of the proceedings, the
Court accepts all facts asserted in the FAC as true and limits its consideration to
the pleadings and attached exhibits. The Rules do not require the plaintiff to set
out in detail the facts upon which his claim rests. Rather, the rules require only “a
short and plain statement of the claim.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). “Factual allegations
must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombley, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The Court finds the Plaintiffs
sufficiently “nudge[ ] their claims across the line from conceivable to plausible” to
survive a motion to dismiss. Id. at 570.
Accordingly, it is now
The Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint for Lack
of Subject Matter Jurisdiction and Failure to State a Claim filed by Defendants
Glades County, Glades Correctional Development Corporation, David Hardon,
John Booher, Sr., and Michelle Summers (Doc. 136) is DENIED.
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Defendants Glades County, Glades Correctional Development
Corporation, David Hardon, John Booher, Sr., and Michelle Summers shall file a
response to Plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint no later than November 5,
Because this matter is set for mediation today, the Clerk shall
immediately deliver a copy of this Order by email to the mediator, James
DONE and ORDERED in Fort Myers, Florida on October 15, 2020.
Copies: All Parties of Record
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