Restricted Filer - Brown v. Coffin et al
OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING CASE Closing Case. Motions terminated: 3 MOTION for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis filed by Devon A. Brown. Signed by Judge Robert N. Scola, Jr on 5/25/2016. (yha) NOTICE: If there are sealed documents in this case, they may be unsealed after 1 year or as directed by Court Order, unless they have been designated to be permanently sealed. See Local Rule 5.4 and Administrative Order 2014-69.
United States District Court
Southern District of Florida
Devon A. Brown, Plaintiff,
Ann Coffin, individually and as
Program Director for the Florida
Child Support Title IV-D Agency,
and Florida Department of Revenue
Office of Child Support
Civil Action No. 17-21893-Civ-Scola
Order Dismissing Complaint
Since 2013 Plaintiff Devon A. Brown appears to have filed no fewer than
twelve pro se complaints in the district court of the Southern District of
Florida.1 Ten of these cases have been dismissed. The two that have not been
dismissed, this one and one other, which is before United States District Court
Judge Jose E. Martinez (case no. 1:17-cv-20822-JEM), were only recently filed
and are pending review. Six of the complaints, including the two currently
pending, stem from frustrations Brown has regarding the Defendants’
involvement with some sort of child-support issue.
To begin with, counts one through five and count nine of the instant
complaint, as they relate to the Department of Revenue, are duplicative of
claims that Brown brought in 2016 in Brown v. Fla. Dept. of Rev. Office of Child
Support before United States District Court Judge Marcia G. Cooke in case
number 1:16-cv-24654-MGC. Judge Cooke dismissed those six claims because
“Defendant Florida Department of Revenue  as a state agency is immune from
section 1983 damage suits under the Eleventh Amendment of the U.S.
Constitution.” Brown v. Fla. Dept. of Rev. Office of Child Support, 1:16-cv24654-MGC (Order, ECF No. 26, Mar. 28, 2017) (citing Gamble v. Fla. Dep't of
Health & Rehab. Servs., 779 F.2d 1509, 1511 (11th Cir. 1986) and Zatler v.
Wainwright, 802 F.2d 397, 400 (11th Cir. 1986)). Brown has since appealed
that dismissal to the Eleventh Circuit. Brown is therefore precluded from
raising these same claims, now under review by the Eleventh Circuit, anew, in
a separate suit. Counts one through five and count nine, as against the
Department of Revenue are thus dismissed.
The case numbers of these cases, in addition to the instant case, are as follows: 1:13-cv22254-KMM, 1:14-cv-21142-MGC, 1:14-cv-24696-JLK, 1:15-cv-20015-KMM, 1:15-cv-22051RNS, 1:15-cv-22054-RNS, 1:16cv20687-RNS, 1:16-cv-21513-MGC, 1:16-cv-24654-MGC, 1:17cv-20734-KMM, 1:17-cv-20822-JEM.
Similarly, counts one through nine, as they relate to Ann Coffin, both
individually and in her official capacity, are duplicative of the claims that
Brown brought in February 2017, in Brown v. Coffin before United States
District Court Judge K. Michael Moore in case number 1:17-cv-20734. Judge
Moore dismissed Brown’s complaint in that case, finding it “frivolous . . .
because it fails to identify any federal rights that have been plausibly violated.”
Brown v. Coffin, 1:167cv-20734-KMM (Order, ECF No. 5, Feb. 26, 2017).
Brown’s allegations against Coffin in this case are the same as those detailed in
the complaint before Judge Moore. If Brown disagreed with Judge Moore’s
order of dismissal, his remedy was to appeal that decision; not to refile the
same case, with nearly identical allegations, perhaps in the hopes of having his
case decided by a different judge. Counts one through nine, as against Coffin,
are thus also dismissed.
This leaves only counts six, seven, and eight against the Department of
Revenue. For the same reason that Judge Cooke dismissed Brown’s other
counts against the Department, this Court dismisses these three counts as
well: the Department is a state agency and therefore is immune from suit in
federal court under the Eleventh Amendment. Although it is true, as Judge
Cooke informed in her order, that a “waiver of sovereign immunity exists under
Florida law for tort actions,” “that law does not apply here as no tort claims are
alleged.” Brown v. Fla. Dept. of Rev. Office of Child Support, 1:16-cv-24654-MGC
(Order, ECF No. 26, Mar. 28, 2017) (citing Fla. Stat. § 768.28). In counts six,
seven, and eight Brown alleges: violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices
Act; a bill of attainder; and violations of the Florida Constitution’s prohibition
of administrative penalties under article I, section 18. None of these are torts.
Simply adding the word “tort” to the title of the complaint does not convert any
of Brown’s claims to torts.
Even under the relaxed pleading standards afforded to pro se litigants,
Brown’s complaint cannot go forward. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court
must dismiss a case filed in forma pauperis if it “is frivolous or malicious,” “fails
to state a claim on which relief may be granted,” or “seeks monetary relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” The majority of Brown’s
claims are duplicative of claims he has brought before other judges, which
themselves have already been found to warrant dismissal, and the others are
barred by sovereign immunity. Because any amendment would be futile, the
Court dismisses Brown’s complaint, albeit without prejudice, but without
affording him the opportunity to amend. Further, because his complaint is
dismissed without leave to amend, Brown’s motion to proceed in forma
pauperis (ECF No. 3) is denied as moot.
Lastly, in noting that Brown has now filed six complaints, all implicating
the same child-support issues and many containing identical allegations, the
Court finds that Brown’s overly-litigious behavior is needlessly draining court
resources. “Courts are authorized to take ‘creative actions to discourage
hyperactive litigators as long as some access to the courts is allowed.’” Cuyler
v. Ley, No. 1:12-CV-3066-JEC, 2013 WL 4776347, at *7 (N.D. Ga. Sept. 5,
2013) (quoting Cofield v. Alabama Pub. Serv. Comm’n, 936 F.2d 512, 518 (11th
Cir.1991)). The Court therefore imposes a pre-filing-screening requirement for
certain further pro se complaints filed by Brown. To that end, Brown must seek
leave of court before filing any future pro se complaints in the Southern
District of Florida regarding matters related to his child-support issues. See
Procup v. Strickland, 792 F.2d 1069, 1074 (11th Cir. 1986) (“The court has a
responsibility to prevent single litigants from unnecessarily encroaching on the
judicial machinery needed by others.”) The Clerk is therefore directed to
designate Plaintiff Devon A. Brown as a restricted filer consistent with the
The Clerk is directed to close this case and any pending motions are
denied as moot.
Done and ordered, at Miami, Florida, on May 25, 2016.
Robert N. Scola, Jr.
United States District Judge
Copy via U.S. mail to:
Devon A. Brown
P.O. Box 470373
Miami, Florida 33247
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