On September 6, 2011, a resident of Florida and applicant for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) assistance filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 class action against the Florida Department of Children and Families in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division. The plaintiff, represented by the ACLU of Florida and the Florida Justice Institute, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that Florida's TANF application requirements violated the Constitution. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the requirement that all applicants undergo suspicionless drug testing in order to be considered for assistance constituted an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment.
Plaintiff moved on September 6, 2011 for a preliminary injunction and on September 13, 2011 for certification of a class comprised of all individuals residing in Florida who were applying for, or would in the future apply for, Temporary Cash Assistance, Florida's program to distribute TANF benefits, and who would be subject to defendant's suspicionless drug testing. Defendant opposed both motions.
On October 24, 2011, the District Court (Judge Mary S. Scriven) granted the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction, but denied his motion for class certification. Lebron v. Wilkins
, 820 F. Supp. 2d 1273 (M.D. Fla. 2011). The court found that the plaintiff was likely to succeed on his Fourth Amendment claim, and issued an injunction that barred the defendant from requiring the plaintiff to take a suspicionless drug test. Since the defendant stipulated that it would apply the court's ruling to all people similarly situated to the plaintiff, the Court found that class certification was unnecessary and dismissed the plaintiff's motion to certify without prejudice.
Defendant appealed the injunction to the Eleventh Circuit.
On November 4, 2011, the plaintiff renewed his motion for class certification, arguing that certification would avoid litigation over mootness should the plaintiff find employment. The District Court (Judge Scriven) agreed and certified the class in an order dated December 7, 2011. Lebron v. Wilkins
, 277 F.R.D. 664 (M.D. Fla. 2011).
Since then, litigation has continued over discovery. As of the date of this summary, there have been no more substantive decisions by the District Court, and the appeal of the preliminary injunction in the Eleventh Circuit is still pending, with a hearing tentatively scheduled for the fall of 2012.Christopher Schad - 06/28/2012