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The Plaintiff, Mr. Dixon, is seeking a volunteer lawyer to represent him during his upcoming civil rights trial. While incarcerated, Plaintiff filed a pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against a state correctional officer who allegedly used excessive force against Plaintiff while Plaintiff was an inmate in the Everglades Correctional Institution.

Plaintiff alleges that while discussing with Officer Pollock an issue relating to a fellow inmate, Officer Pollock spontaneously and needlessly beat Plaintiff. Plaintiff claims Officer Pollock stepped on Plaintiff’s right heel and slammed him to the concrete floor, and then kicked Plaintiff in his face and body. Plaintiff alleges that he suffered a number of injuries stemming from this beating, including rib injuries, a concussion, back pain, exacerbation of a pre-existing shoulder injury, partial loss of eyesight, and multiple lacerations and contusions. Plaintiff challenges the correctional institution’s medical treatment and documentation, impacting the evidence of Plaintiff’s injuries. Plaintiff seeks money damages against Officer Pollock.

Plaintiff’s case survived summary judgment and is ready for trial (not yet scheduled). The volunteer representation would entail representing Mr. Dixon at a supplemental deposition and at trial, and the duties in preparation for trial. Please contact Kathryn Harlan, Deputy Clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro, by phone at 305-523-5555 or by email (Kathryn_harlan@flsd.uscourts.gov), if you are interested in representing Mr. Dixon.

Defendant Gilda Rizzi has been made a party to an interpleader action arising from an insurance dispute. Decedent assigned his life insurance policy to Defendant Rizzi. Decedent redesignated some of his benefits to his surviving spouse. After decedent's death Defendant Rizzi filed a claim for life insurance benefits. Decedent's surviving spouse has contested that Defendant Rizzi is the proper beneficiary. The Plaintiff insurance company, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, has filed for interpleader, asserting that it has no stake in this matter and will pay the benefits of the insurance policy to whichever Party is designated by the Court as the beneficiary. The case is in its early stages—Defendant Rizzi has not yet filed an answer to the Complaint. If interested, please email bloom@flsd.uscourts.gov.

The first set of claims relate to Excessive Force used by five jail employees. They are identified as Sergeant Quest, Deputy Maynes, Deputy Anda, Deputy Green, and Deputy Powell. According to Plaintiff, these five defendants beat him in his cell despite his compliance with orders. Plaintiff alleged that he was punched, stomped on, dragged to the floor, and hit multiple times. Plaintiff further alleged that one of the defendants, specifically Sergeant Quest, ordered the beating in his cell.

    The second set of claims are for Failure to Intervene against the previously mentioned jail employees. This claim alleges that those five defendants, who applied force in Plaintiff’s cell, failed to take reasonable steps to protect him from excessive force by instead participating in the beating.

    Plaintiff raised a claim of Retaliation against Sergeant Quest. According to Plaintiff, Sergeant Quest relocated him to a windowless cell because Plaintiff filed a grievance and requested medical attention after being beaten. Plaintiff alleged that Sergeant Quest “intercepted” the attempt at grieving or seeking medical attention.  Replacement was ordered, as Plaintiff alleges, to prevent officials from seeing or documenting Plaintiff’s injuries. At the pleading stage, this Court drew an inference that placement in a windowless cell may have been ordered as an attempt to hinder Plaintiff’s ability to substantiate legal claims.While relocated, the replacement allegedly prevented Plaintiff from receiving medical treatment for fifteen days.

    As to his final claim, Plaintiff raised a claim of deliberate indifference to serious medical needs against Nurse Henri. According to these allegations, Nurse Henri failed to provide emergency medical services and failed to provide treatment after the beating. The allegations also state that Nurse Henri did not write an event report after the beating. As injuries, Plaintiff states that he endured a concussion, broken ribs, and cuts, bleeding, and swelling to his head and face. Plaintiff adds that he now suffers from blurred vision, headaches, and panic attacks that range in their severity.  If interested, please email FLSD_ProBono@flsd.uscourts.gov

Plaintiff presents multiple claims against numerous defendants employed at Okeechobee Correctional Institution arising from events which occurred while a prisoner confined at the facility. He sues two correctional officers, Eschevarria and Rogers, for the unlawful use of force committed against Plaintiff where Eschevarria slammed Plaintiff into the pavement, and as Plaintiff was handcuffed, forced his knee into Plaintiff’s right hand and wrist causing an injury, and continued the assault by spraying chemicals in Plaintiff’s face and ear, and where Rogers repeatedly kicked Plaintiff in the face and ear until Plaintiff bled. Plaintiff’s injuries remained untreated by a medical professional for at least two days. Plaintiff also asserts deliberate indifference to a serious medical need against Eschevarria and Rogers who left him bleeding and in pain, with a fractured hand and needing medical treatment but delayed in reporting a medical emergency to the appropriate medical staff. Plaintiff also asserts a deliberate indifference to a serious medical need against Nurse Riveria who ignored obvious injuries and pain and reported that Plaintiff was “fine.” In addition, Plaintiff sues Riveria and Warden Severson for failure to intervene. Riveria thoroughly examined Plaintiff following the attack but instead reported there were no injuries and endeavored to “cover up” the attack. Plaintiff notified Warden Severson as to subsequent retaliations who has failed to intervene despite being subjectively conscious of the risk to Plaintiff. The requests for an injunction against Eschevarria and Rogers to halt against future attacks and retaliation will proceed as well as the claims for punitive damages against Eschevarria, Rogers, Severson, and Riveria in their individual capacities.

Status of the Case: All defendants were served and all defendants filed answers and defendants. This Court issued a modified pretrial schedule on December 17, 2018. (DE#102). Discovery is due to be completed by April 12, 2019. If interested, please email FLSD_ProBono@flsd.uscourts.gov

An employee has sued his former employer, Sanabi Investments LLC, and its owners/corporate officers Saady Bijani and Hanin Prieto, for unpaid overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  The corporate defendant, Sanabi Investments LLC, and individual defendant Saady Bijani have each filed for bankruptcy and the case has been stayed as to those two defendants.  Defendant Hanin Prieto is seeking a volunteer lawyer to defend him against the former employee's allegations.  The case was filed in February and the Defendants have filed an Answer through former counsel.  If interested, please email FLSD_ProBono@flsd.uscourts.gov

Pro se prisoner Plaintiff filed this action against the City of Miami Beach and two officers.  The Complaint was filed on October 4, 2016 and alleged claims under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for violating Plaintiff’s constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and for failure to train.  Plaintiff contends that he was not violating any traffic laws when he was pursued and stopped by two City of Miami Beach officers for “driving while black.” The incident gave rise to two traffic tickets, one for a missing tag light and another for driving without a license. According to Plaintiff, his tag light was operable, yet one of the officers admitted to falsifying the ticket in order make the stop “look good on paper.”  As a result of the traffic tickets, Plaintiff was later arrested and jailed for violating the conditions of his state probation. While in jail, he lost his two jobs, his apartment, and various personal property. He became depressed and suffered physical injury. Upon his release, Plaintiff challenged the two tickets and both were ultimately dismissed.  Thereafter, while incarcerated for reasons unrelated to the circumstances giving rise to this case, Plaintiff filed his Complaint.

   
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), the Magistrate Judge screened the Complaint before service to the Defendants.  Upon the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, this Court dismissed the Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.  Plaintiff filed a timely appeal to the Eleventh Circuit. The Eleventh Circuit held that Plaintiff successfully stated a plausible claim against the officers for violating Plaintiff’s rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments however, Plaintiff failed to state a claim as it relates to the City of Miami Beach.  Nevertheless, the Eleventh Circuit concluded that Plaintiff should be allowed to amend the Complaint against the City because he may be able to identify facts supporting his claim that the City has known for years that its officers were violating the constitutional rights of African-Americans and has taken no action to address the issue. On August 2, 2018, Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint re-alleging his Section 1983 and failure to train claim, as well as an additional claim for malicious prosecution.

 
On October 25, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued a Modified Report and Recommendation recommending that (1) the Fourth Amendment claims against the officers in their individual capacities procced; (2) the Fourth Amendment claims against the officers in their official capacity be dismissed because there is no allegation against a municipal policymaker or any indication that the officer Defendants have final policymaking authority; (3) the malicious prosecution claim against the officers and the City be dismissed because the issuance of a ticket does not amount to a seizure for purposes of the Fourth Amendment and Plaintiff’s admission of driving without a license established that probable cause existed for the underlying traffic violation; and (4) the failure-to-train claim against the City be dismissed without prejudice because Plaintiff has still not identified specific facts to make a plausible showing that the alleged custom or policy of discrimination existed.  Lastly, because Plaintiff is incarcerated and will not face unreasonable searches by the City or its officers anymore, the Magistrate Judge recommends dismissing Plaintiff’s claim for declaratory relief. Defendants have not been served with the operative Complaint.  If interested, please email FLSD_ProBono@flsd.uscourts.gov

Mr. Alonso is seeking an attorney to represent him in his suit against his apartment complex and its manager, alleging retaliation under the Fair Housing Act for, among other things, allegedly denying Plaintiff the right to renew his tenancy due to his disabled son, threatening to tow his car, denying him reasonable accommodations for his disabled son, and commencing an eviction proceeding in Miami-Dade County Court (case number 2018-000236-CC-21). Plaintiff has also filed with the Florida Commission on Human Rights with reference number N # 201804642.

On November 26, 2018, Plaintiff was granted a third and final motion to amend his complaint to state a fair housing act claim. See D.E. 67. Plaintiff has until December 14, 2018 to file an amended complaint that is compliant with Rule 8. The volunteer representation would entail representing Mr. Alonso at trial (not yet scheduled), and the duties in preparation for trial (pretrial stipulation, motions in limine, etc.). If interested, please contact Kathryn Harlan by email (kathryn_harlan@flsd.uscourts.gov) or phone (305-523-5555).

Ingrid Venssa Aldamas Garcia is subject to a Petition for the Return of Child under the Hague Convention’s Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, which alleges that she has wrongfully retained her and her ex-husband’s minor child here in the U.S. The father alleges that child’s habitual residence is in Peru, where the child previously resided with the father.

The child is currently in the United States in the Southern District of Florida with the mother, Petitioner, who is unrepresented, requires the services of a Spanish interpreter, and seeks volunteer counsel to represent her in proceedings that will determine whether her child must be returned to Peru with the father. The parties appeared for a show cause hearing on October 30, 2018. An evidentiary hearing will be held in this case on November 30, 2018 starting at 9:00 A.M. If interested, please email FLSD_ProBono@flsd.uscourts.gov

Defendant Xiomara McLaughlin, acting in her capacity as natural guardian and parent of her daughter, has been made a party to an insurance dispute that was removed to federal court. Plaintiff’s late husband reassigned his life insurance policy to Defendant McLaughlin’s daughter, his granddaughter, shortly before his death. Plaintiff challenges the validity of that reassignment, arguing that he did not have the capacity to make that change. Plaintiff seeks injunctive and declaratory relief, declaring her the true beneficiary of the life insurance policy, and damages. The Defendant insurance company, the Prudential Insurance Company of America, has filed for interpleader, asserting that it has no stake in this matter and will pay the benefits of the insurance policy to whichever Party is designated by the Court as the beneficiary. The case is in its early stages—Defendant McLaughlin has not yet filed an answer to the Complaint. If interested, please email FLSD_ProBono@flsd.uscourts.gov

Pro se Plaintiff Carlos Alonso filed this action against Dr. Gladys Y. Alonso, M.D., a medical practice group. Plaintiff brings suit for his disabled son, who must travel in a wheelchair, and claims that Defendant's office and access to same violated various provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The three-count complaint alleges causes of action for "discrimination," "retaliation," and "personal injury and other damages," stemming from the Defendant's alleged refusal to accommodate Plaintiff's son despite the latter's physical and mental disability. Plaintiff has moved the District Court several times seeking to have an attorney appointed for him, and on October 22, 2018 Magistrate Judge Edwin G. Torres entered an Omnibus Order referring Plaintiff to the volunteer attorney program and ordering Mr. Alonso to file a summons and guardianship order on the docket. If interested, please email torres@flsd.uscourts.gov

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