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Case Name Sampson v. City of Miami Gardens PN-FL-0003
Docket / Court 1:13-cv-24312-DLG ( S.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Policing
Case Summary
On November 27, 2013, eleven minority individuals who had been subjected to stop-and-frisks by the Miami Gardens Police Department filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida against the city of Miami Gardens, its mayor, city manager, and chief of police ... read more >
On November 27, 2013, eleven minority individuals who had been subjected to stop-and-frisks by the Miami Gardens Police Department filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida against the city of Miami Gardens, its mayor, city manager, and chief of police as well as numerous individual members of the MGPD. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, brought their suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking redress for the violation of their constitutional and civil rights. Specifically, they alleged the defendants' stop-and-frisks are conducted on the basis of race or national origin--instead of probable cause or reasonable suspicion--and thus contravene both the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs identified three defective policies of the MGPD that gave rise to the alleged violations. First, the MGPD employed a quota policy, requiring officers to make a monthly minimum amount of citations, field contact reports, and arrests. Second, MGPD officers abused the "Zero Tolerance Zone Policy" aimed at reducing trespassing and loitering. Officers policing zero tolerance zones would conduct stop and frisks and arrest individuals, notwithstanding that property owners had opted out of the policy or requested--during such incidents--officers desist. And third, the "Racial Targeting Policy" commanded officers to focus their stop-and-frisks on young black males, even where reasonable suspicion was lacking. Accordingly, in addition to monetary compensation, the plaintiffs requested (1) declaratory judgment that the stop-and-frisk policy and practice is unconstitutional; (2) an injunction prohibiting the MGPD's stop-and-frisks generally and its use of quotas and employment of the Zero Tolerance Zone and Racial Targeting policies specifically; and (3) an order that the MGPD adopt remedial policies and programs terminating its practice of stop-and-frisks.

The defendants initially filed several motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim, but the Court (Judge Donald L. Graham) denied the motions as moot in light of the plaintiffs' amended complaint. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed claims against most of the individual defendants, leaving claims only against the city, chief of police, deputy chief of police, and the major in the MGPD who issued the Racial Targeting Policy. The defendants subsequently filed another motion to dismiss, which the Court granted and denied in part. The Court found that Florida statute immunized the defendants against the plaintiffs' conversion claim, but it refused to dismiss their battery claims, explaining the record was insufficiently developed to make such a determination. Finally, the Court dismissed the plaintiffs' claim of tortious interference with a business relationship, noting that the plaintiffs had not opposed the motion.

On April 25, 2014, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, in which they removed the individual police officer defendants. Thus, the remaining defendants were the City of Miami Gardens, as well as the Chief, Deputy Chief, and Major of the MGPD. Shortly thereafter, the plaintiffs filed their third and final amended complaint, in which they added a few details about the MGPD's practices. The parties then engaged in extensive discovery.

On August 11, 2014, the defendants filed a motion to bifurcate, requesting separate trials for each individual plaintiff. The City and the MGPD defendants each filed separate motions for summary judgment on January 30, 2015. On that same date, several plaintiffs filed a cross motion for partial summary judgment. On May 27, 2015, Judge Graham rule on the parties' cross motions for summary judgment, granting in part and denying in part the defendants' motion and denying the plaintiffs' motion. 2015 WL 11202372. Specifically, the Court granted summary judgment for defendants on the plaintiffs' state law claims because the plaintiffs did not strictly adhere to the notice requirements set forth in Florida's sovereign immunity waiver statute. The Court also held that all incidents occurring prior to November 27, 2009 were time-barred pursuant to the Florida statute of limitations for tort actions. Although the Court granted summary judgment for the defendants on the plaintiffs' Monell claims premised on the zero tolerance zone ordinance, the Court declined to grant summary judgment for the defendants' on the plaintiffs' Monell claims predicated upon the unwritten quota policy and the racial profiling policy. The Court held for the defendants on the plaintiffs' failure-to-train claim, but held that neither the plaintiffs nor the defendants were entitled to summary judgment on the selective enforcement claims. Finally, the Court held that neither party was entitled to summary judgment on the plaintiffs' supervisory liability claims and that, assuming the plaintiffs could establish their constitutional injuries, the defendants would not be entitled to qualified immunity.

At settlement conference on June 23, 2015, the parties reached a full settlement. The details of the settlement are unknown, but according to news reports, under pressure from the harassment allegations, Police Chief Matthew Boyd resigned in 2013. On July 14, 2015, the parties filed a joint notice of voluntary dismissal with prejudice. Each party agreed to bear their own fees and costs. The case is now closed.

David Postel - 03/24/2014
Eva Richardson - 01/30/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
False arrest
Pattern or Practice
Racial profiling
Search policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) City of Miami Gardens
Plaintiff Description Eleven minority individuals who had been subjected to stop-and-frisks by the Miami Gardens Police Department.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Unknown
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Filing Year 2013
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
1:13−cv−24312 (S.D. Fla.)
PN-FL-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/15/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Damages [ECF# 1]
PN-FL-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/27/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint for Damages [ECF# 56]
PN-FL-0003-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/06/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 69] (S.D. Fla.)
PN-FL-0003-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/06/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Order [ECF# 80] (S.D. Fla.)
PN-FL-0003-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/20/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Third Amended Complaint [ECF# 101] (2014 WL 3893955)
PN-FL-0003-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/17/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting in part Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [ECF# 213] (2015 WL 11202372) (S.D. Fla.)
PN-FL-0003-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/27/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Graham, Donald L. (S.D. Fla.) show/hide docs
PN-FL-0003-0003 | PN-FL-0003-0005 | PN-FL-0003-0007 | PN-FL-0003-9000
McAliley, Chris M. (S.D. Fla.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PN-FL-0003-9000
O'Sullivan, John J. (S.D. Fla.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PN-FL-0003-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Lopez, Stephan (Florida) show/hide docs
PN-FL-0003-0001 | PN-FL-0003-0002 | PN-FL-0003-0006 | PN-FL-0003-9000
McGee, C. Edward Jr. (Florida) show/hide docs
PN-FL-0003-9000
Reyes, Carlos Jose (Florida) show/hide docs
PN-FL-0003-0001 | PN-FL-0003-0002 | PN-FL-0003-0006 | PN-FL-0003-9000
Ulloa, Melissa Jean (Florida) show/hide docs
PN-FL-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Alexander, Scott David (Florida) show/hide docs
PN-FL-0003-9000
Johnson, E. Bruce (Florida) show/hide docs
PN-FL-0003-9000
Lewis, Harriet R. (Florida) show/hide docs
PN-FL-0003-9000

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