University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Occupy Ft. Meyers v. City of Ft. Meyers PN-FL-0002
Docket / Court 2:11-cv-00608 ( M.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Policing
Special Collection Occupy
Case Summary
On October 25, 2011, a group of citizens (Occupy Ft. Meyers) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida against the City of Fort Myers, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging that the defendant's municipal code unconstitutionally suppressed plaintiff's activities. ... read more >
On October 25, 2011, a group of citizens (Occupy Ft. Meyers) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida against the City of Fort Myers, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging that the defendant's municipal code unconstitutionally suppressed plaintiff's activities. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for a preliminary injunction to restrain enforcing certain portions of the code and to declare that such portions violated the rights to free speech, assembly and association, under the First Amendment.

Defendant had employed a code requiring a special permit-signed by the chief or authorized member of the police department-for every parade, procession or public open-air meeting. Around October 11, 2011, the plaintiff began organizing the Occupy Fort Myers movement and held political activities (e.g., rally, building tents and information booths) at Centennial Park to promote awareness of the influence of private money in the nation's political process. The plaintiff attempted to acquire a "Special Events" permit but was denied presumably due to lack of the required liability insurance policy. On October 20, 2011, the police department of the defendant began issuing citations to plaintiff for remaining overnight in the park. Subsequently, plaintiff filed this suit.

The plaintiff argued that defendant's code: (1) provided targeted regulation of political speech with uncontrolled discretion in City officials to approve or deny permits; (2) included vague language as to cause citizens to censor speech and conduct; and (3) included language suppressing citizens' liberty interest in lounging on public benches and places. The defendant contended in part that portions of the code-some of which were to be repealed-were not enforced and thus request for the preliminary injunction was moot.

On November 15, 2012, the District Court (Judge Steele) issued an order for preliminary injunction to some of the plaintiff's claims. On November 17, 2011, the defendant denied plaintiff's request for a permit, and around 11:00 pm, the police department demanded that the plaintiff leave the park or face arrest.

The plaintiff and defendant negotiated a settlement agreement. On March 4, 2013, the District Court (Judge Steele) dismissed the case with prejudice.

David Cho - 10/08/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Disparate Treatment
Inadequate citizen complaint investigations and procedures
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) City of Fort Myers
Plaintiff Description Unincorporated association of concerned citizens
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Unknown
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program )
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Panopticism for Police: Structural Reform Bargaining and Police Regulation by Data-Driven Surveillance
By: Mary D. Fan (University of Washington)
Citation: Forthcoming, 87 Washington L. Rev. __ (2012).
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Written: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:11−cv−00608 (M.D. Fla.) 03/26/2013
PN-FL-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Verified Complaint 10/25/2011
PN-FL-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Transcript of Oral Argument Re: Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction 10/31/2011
PN-FL-0002-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Preliminary Injunction 11/15/2011 (M.D. Fla.)
PN-FL-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order for Preliminary Injunction 11/15/2011 (M.D. Fla.)
PN-FL-0002-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint 11/21/2011
PN-FL-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Frazier, Douglas N. (M.D. Fla.) [Magistrate]
PN-FL-0002-9000
Steele, John E. (M.D. Fla.) [Magistrate]
PN-FL-0002-0002 | PN-FL-0002-0005 | PN-FL-0002-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Keesler, Jennifer Lucas (Florida)
PN-FL-0002-0001 | PN-FL-0002-0003 | PN-FL-0002-9000
Ross, Robert William Jr. (Florida)
PN-FL-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Alley, Grant W (Florida)
PN-FL-0002-9000
Moriarty, Mark C.S. (Florida)
PN-FL-0002-9000
Potter, David C. (Florida)
PN-FL-0002-9000
Vaughan-Birch, Cody B. (Florida)
PN-FL-0002-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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