Hoefling, Jr. v. City of Miami

Plaintiff filed suit against the City and its officers under 42 U.S.C.1983, federal maritime law, and state law, alleging that defendants seized his sailboat and destroyed it without justification and without notice. The district court dismissed plaintiff's claims. The court concluded that the district court should not have placed a “heightened pleading” burden on plaintiff for his section 1983 claims. The court also concluded that the district court erred to the extent that it dismissed the federal constitutional claims in Counts I, II, and V, and the maritime claims in Counts III and IV, based on the contents of the incident reports. On remand, the court instructed the district court to assess the sufficiency of the procedural due process, search and seizure, and takings claims without reliance on the disputed portions of the incident reports. The court further instructed that the district court should assume that the sailboat was not derelict, and that plaintiff was never given adequate notice that it was derelict and subject to removal and destruction. The court further concluded that the district court erred with respect to the procedural due process claim in Count I and the Fourth Amendment claim in Count II. In this case, all plaintiff needed to do to establish municipal liability was allege a policy, practice, or custom of the City which caused the seizure and destruction of his sailboat, which he did. Further, defendants cannot point to any post-Leatherman v. Tarrant Cnty. Narcotics Intelligence & Coordination Unit Supreme Court or circuit cases - and the court has not been able to locate any - holding that a complaint asserting a section 1983 municipal liability claim must, as a Rule 8(a) pleading matter, always specifically identify the municipality’s final policymaker by name. Finally, plaintiff also sufficiently stated a claim for an unconstitutional seizure under the Fourth Amendment. However, the court agreed with the district court that plaintiff failed to state a substantive due process claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Hoefling, Jr. v. City of Miami" on Justia Law