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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Ruiz v. Robinson ED-FL-0002
Docket / Court 1:11-cv-23776-KMM ( S.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Education
Immigration
Attorney Organization Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
On October 19, 2011, dependent students denied Florida in-state tuition by state undergraduate institutions because of their inability to prove their parents' lawful immigration status filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against ... read more >
On October 19, 2011, dependent students denied Florida in-state tuition by state undergraduate institutions because of their inability to prove their parents' lawful immigration status filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the Florida State Board of Education and the State University System of Florida Board of Governors. The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center, sought declaratory and injunctive relief, and class certification. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants' policy that classified them as non-residents based on their parents' federal immigration status was unconstitutional, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause and the Supremacy Clause under the United States Constitution.

The plaintiffs were all United States citizens born in the United States and they had lived in Florida for many years. They were unable to establish their parents' lawful immigration status, which was required under the defendants' policy to determine eligibility for in-state tuition. Hence, the public institutions in Florida denied in-state tuition to the plaintiffs due to such state regulations, and, as a result, the plaintiffs either had to delay their higher education or forego it entirely.

On February 24, 2012, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, adding several individuals from the defendant agencies in their official capacity as defendants to the lawsuit. The District Court (Judge Kevin M. Moore) denied the plaintiffs' motion for class certification. Ruiz v. Robinson, 2012 WL 3278644 (S.D. Fla. Aug. 9, 2012). The Court reasoned that the expenses and burden of maintaining a class action outweighed the benefit of granting class certification in this case, and the Court did not find an imminent threat of mootness that would require a class certification in this case.

On August 31, 2012, the Court granted summary judgment in part to the plaintiffs and denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment. Ruiz v. Robinson, 892 F. Supp. 2d 1321 (S.D. Fla. 2012). The Court held that the defendants' regulations that classified the plaintiffs by virtue of their parents' undocumented immigration status violated the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. The Court found that the defendants' classification did not advance any legitimate state interest. The Court denied as moot the Supremacy Clause claim raised by the plaintiffs.

On October 25, 2012, the Court entered final judgment in favor of the plaintiffs on their equal protection claim. The Court declared the defendants' regulations unconstitutional and an incorrect interpretation of the relevant substantive laws. The Court also issued an injunction that banned such regulations. Thus, the defendants could no longer require dependent citizen students who could otherwise establish their and their parents' Florida residency to provide proof of their parents' lawful immigration status for determination of their eligibility for in-state tuition benefits. On December 18, 2012, both parties entered into a settlement agreement on attorneys' fees and litigation costs. The defendants agreed to pay the plaintiffs in sum of $100,000. This ended the case.

Emma Bao - 06/10/2013


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Defendant-type
College/University
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Immigration status
General
Classification / placement
Disparate Treatment
Education
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
School/University policies
Immigration
Status/Classification
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Florida State Board of Education
State University System of Florida Board of Governors
Plaintiff Description Citizen students under the age of 24 who graduated from Florida high schools and lived in Florida for many years denied in-state tuition by state undergraduate institutions for their inability to prove their parents' lawful immigration status.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Southern Poverty Law Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Declaratory Judgment
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2012 - 2012
Case Closing Year 2012
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Courts and Kids: Pursuing Educational Equity Through the State Courts
By: Michael Rebell (Columbia University, and Campaign for Educational Equity)
Citation: (University of Chicago Press, 2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:11-cv-23776-KMM (S.D. Fla.) 12/20/2012
ED-FL-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint - Class Action 10/19/2011
ED-FL-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint - Class Action 02/24/2012
ED-FL-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion to Certify Class 08/09/2012 (2012 WL 3278644) (S.D. Fla.)
ED-FL-0002-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting In Part Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment and Denying Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment 08/31/2012 (892 F.Supp.2d 1321) (S.D. Fla.)
ED-FL-0002-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment 10/25/2012 (S.D. Fla.)
ED-FL-0002-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement on Attorneys' Fees and Litigation Costs and Expenses 12/18/2012
ED-FL-0002-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Moore, Kevin Michael (S.D. Fla.)
ED-FL-0002-0003 | ED-FL-0002-0004 | ED-FL-0002-0006 | ED-FL-0002-9000
Torres, Edwin G. (S.D. Fla.) [Magistrate]
ED-FL-0002-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Galloni, Tania (Florida)
ED-FL-0002-0001 | ED-FL-0002-0002 | ED-FL-0002-0007 | ED-FL-0002-9000
Haskell, Miriam Fahsi (Florida)
ED-FL-0002-0001 | ED-FL-0002-0002 | ED-FL-0002-9000
Katzerman, Jerri (Alabama)
ED-FL-0002-0001 | ED-FL-0002-0002 | ED-FL-0002-9000
Morris, Maria V. (Alabama)
ED-FL-0002-0001 | ED-FL-0002-0002 | ED-FL-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Winship, Blaine H (Florida)
ED-FL-0002-0007 | ED-FL-0002-9000
Other Lawyers Auslander, Charles Morris (Florida)
ED-FL-0002-9000
Greenfield, Valory Tony (Florida)
ED-FL-0002-9000
Grunewald, Kathy Newman (Florida)
ED-FL-0002-9000
Huddleston, Cindy LeAnn (Florida)
ED-FL-0002-9000

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