Abusaid v. Hillsborough County Circuit Court
ORDER: Defendant Hillsborough County Circuit Court's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. # 26) is granted. The Second Amended Complaint is dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The Clerk is directed to close the case. Signed by Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington on 10/14/2020. (AR)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
ELIAS LOU ABUSAID, JR.,
Case No. 8:20-cv-121-T-33CPT
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY CIRCUIT
COURT, FAMILY LAW DIVISION,
STATE OF FLORIDA, and SECOND
DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL,
STATE OF FLORIDA,
This matter comes before the Court upon consideration of
September 8, 2020. Plaintiff Elias Lou Abusaid, Jr., acting
pro se, responded on September 15, 2020. (Doc. # 27). For the
reasons set forth below, the Motion is granted.
This case stems from various proceedings in Florida
state court. In 2004, Abusaid initiated a paternity suit
against the mother of his children in the Circuit Court’s
Family Division. (Doc. # 24 at ¶ 18). The state court then
entered two judgments against Abusaid in 2005 and 2006, while
he was in federal prison. (Id.). Since 2006, Abusaid has
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appealed to the Second District Court of Appeal at least seven
times regarding this paternity suit. (Id. at ¶ 15). In all of
those appeals, the state appellate court per curiam affirmed
the lower court’s decision, meaning that the appeals were
dismissed “without explanation” and then remanded back to the
Family Division. (Id. at ¶ 13-16). The paternity suit remains
active in the Family Division, as there is a hearing scheduled
in that court on November 18, 2020. (Id. at ¶ 51).
Although not entirely clear, Abusaid appears to allege
that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by, among
without explanation, barring Abusaid from “filing pleadings
. . . without a signature from an attorney,” denying him
“meaningful time sharing with his children,” and not treating
him in the same manner as “other represented parents who can
pay out large amounts in [attorneys’] fees.” (Id. at ¶¶ 1924, 36-37, 42, 66).
Abusaid initially filed this action in this Court on
January 15, 2020. (Doc. # 1). Abusaid amended his complaint
on May 15, 2020 (Doc. # 10), and then again on August 17,
2020. (Doc. # 24). The Second Amended Complaint includes
Protection and Due Process Clauses through 42 U.S.C. § 1983
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(Counts I and II). (Id.) Abusaid requests declaratory and
fees,” and that the Court “[i]nitiate a Department of Justice
investigation [into the Defendants’ actions].” (Id.).
On September 8, 2020, the Circuit Court moved to dismiss
jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim for relief.
(Doc. # 26). Abusaid responded (Doc. # 27), and the Motion is
now ripe for review.
The Court construes pro se pleadings liberally and holds
them to a less stringent standard than those drafted by
attorneys. Hughes v. Lott, 350 F.3d 1157, 1160 (11th Cir.
2003). However, “a pro se litigant still is required to
conform to procedural rules, and a district judge is not
Douglas County, 587 F. App’x 593, 595 (11th Cir. 2014).
Taylor v. Appleton, 30 F.3d 1365, 1367 (11th Cir. 1994).
“[B]ecause a federal court is powerless to act beyond its
statutory grant of subject matter jurisdiction, a court must
zealously insure that jurisdiction exists over a case[.]”
Smith v. GTE Corp., 236 F.3d 1292, 1299 (11th Cir. 2001).
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jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
Morrison v. Amway Corp., 323 F.3d 920, 924 n.5 (11th Cir.
2003). When the jurisdictional attack is based on the face of
plaintiff has sufficiently alleged a basis for subject-matter
complaint are taken as true for purposes of the motion.
Lawrence v. Dunbar, 919 F.2d 1525, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990).
Conversely, with factual attacks, the Court assesses the
arguments asserted by the parties and the credibility of the
resolving a factual attack, the district court may consider
extrinsic evidence[.]” Morrison, 323 F.3d at 924 n.5.
“A plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating that the
Court has jurisdiction.” Alvey v. Gualtieri, No. 8:15-cv1861-T-33AEP, 2016 WL 6087874, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 18,
2016). Courts may dismiss cases pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1)
jurisdiction[,] or are wholly unsubstantiated and frivolous.”
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Lawrence, 919 F.2d at 1530 n.7 (quoting Eaton v. Dorchester
Dev., Inc., 692 F.2d 727, 734 (11th Cir. 1982)).
Complaint should be dismissed for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) because the Court “is
claims under the Younger abstention doctrine.” (Doc. # 26 at
4-6); see Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). Because the
Court agrees that it must abstain from hearing this case, the
Court need only address this argument.
Under the Younger abstention doctrine, federal courts
must abstain from exercising jurisdiction when doing so would
Orleans Pub. Serv., Inc. v. Council of the City of New
Orleans, 491 U.S. 350, 359 (1989). The doctrine applies to
proceedings when important state interests are involved.” 31
Foster Children v. Bush, 329 F.3d 1255, 1274 (11th Cir. 2003)
(citing Middlesex Cty. Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass’n,
457 U.S. 423, 432 (1982)). The doctrine is premised upon
federalism concerns and “maintaining a proper respect for
state functions.” Lee Memorial Health Sys. v. Guillermo, No.
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2:10-cv-00700-FtM-36DNF, 2011 WL 5826672, at *2 (M.D. Fla.
Nov. 18, 2011).
Under the Younger doctrine, a federal district court
must abstain from exercising jurisdiction when there is: “(1)
an ongoing state judicial proceeding[,] (2) that implicates
adequate opportunity to raise constitutional challenges.”
COOKE/MCALILEY, 2019 WL 8989840, at *3 (S.D. Fla. May 23,
2019) (citing Middlesex, 457 U.S. at 433-34), report and
2019 WL 8989841 (S.D. Fla. July 3, 2019).
Here, the state court proceedings that Abusaid seeks to
invalidate are ongoing, as a hearing is scheduled on November
18, 2020. (Doc. # 24 at ¶ 51); see Narciso v. Walker, 811 F.
App’x 600, 602 (11th Cir. 2020) (finding a state proceeding
visitation rights was pending in family court). Next, the
implicate important state interests.” Davis v. Self, 547 F.
App’x 927, 930 (11th Cir. 2013) (deeming Younger abstention
appropriate regarding claims for declaratory and injunctive
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relief in a child-custody case); see also Narciso, 811 F.
App’x at 602 (“[F]amily relations are a traditional area of
state concern.” (citation omitted)).
Lastly, because “[a] federal court should assume that
state procedures will afford an adequate remedy in the
Abusaid points to no authority to rebut this presumption, the
Abusaid’s constitutional challenges. See 31 Foster Children,
329 F.3d at 1279 (citing Pennzoil Co. v. Texaco, Inc., 481
U.S. 1, 15 (1987)). Thus, the three prongs of Younger are
jurisdiction over this case. See Chen v. Lester, 364 F. App’x
531, 535 (11th Cir. 2010) (holding that the district court
appropriately refrained from exercising jurisdiction over a
family-law matter because the elements of Younger were met).
Additionally, as Abusaid is proceeding pro se, he is not
entitled to attorneys’ fees. See, e.g., Cox v. Bank of Am.
Corp., No. 1:15-cv-172-WSD, 2015 WL 5174013, at *10 (N.D. Ga.
Sept. 3, 2015) (holding that the plaintiffs in a civil rights
action were not entitled to attorneys’ fees because they were
acting pro se). Finally, Abusaid provides no basis upon which
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procedures. See Piguet v. J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., No.
14-62862-Scola, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188209, at *1 (S.D.
Fla. Aug. 3, 2015) (“Neither does this Court have jurisdiction
or authority to order a criminal investigation.”).
Thus, the Circuit Court’s Motion is granted, and the
Second Amended Complaint is dismissed for lack of subjectmatter jurisdiction. See Dandar v. Church of Scientology Flag
Serv. Org., 24 F. Supp. 3d 1181, 1200-01 (M.D. Fla. 2014)
(dismissing claims for injunctive and declaratory relief
under the Younger abstention doctrine).
Accordingly, it is
ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED:
Defendant Hillsborough County Circuit Court’s Motion to
Dismiss (Doc. # 26) is GRANTED.
The Second Amended Complaint is DISMISSED for lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction. The Clerk is directed to
CLOSE the case.
DONE and ORDERED in Chambers, in Tampa, Florida, this
14th day of October, 2020.
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