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Judge Orders Injunction on Florida's Welfare Drug Testing Law

Judge Orders Injunction on Florida's Welfare Drug Testing Law

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Published by: jshpetri on Oct 24, 2011
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10/30/2013

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-1-
UNITED
 
STATES
 
DISTRICT
 
COURTMIDDLE
 
DISTRICT
 
OF
 
FLORIDAORLANDO
 
DIVISIONLUIS W. LEBRON, individuallyand as class representative,Plaintiff,v. Case No.: 6:11-cv-01473-Orl-35DABDAVID E. WILKINS, in his officialcapacity as Secretary of the FloridaDepartment of Children & Families,Defendant. ___________________________________ 
 
ORDER
 
THIS CAUSE
comes before the Court upon Plaintiff’s Motion for PreliminaryInjunction (Dkt. 2), Motion for Class Certification (Dkt. 16) and Reply to Defendant’sopposition to preliminary injunctive relief (Dkt. 22), along with the State’s responses(Dkt. 19; Dkt. 16) in opposition to Plaintiff’s motions.
I. INTRODUCTION
 The question presented is whether Section 414.0652, Florida Statutes, whichrequires all applicants for a class of federal welfare benefits to submit to suspicionlessdrug testing, is constitutional under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Based onthe evidence submitted by the parties on their written submissions and at a hearing onPlaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction, the Court
GRANTS
Plaintiff’s Motion forPreliminary Injunction against the enforcement of Section 414.0652 against him until
Case 6:11-cv-01473-MSS-DAB Document 33 Filed 10/24/11 Page 1 of 37 PageID 572
 
 
-2-this matter is fully adjudicated by the Court. On stipulation of the State that it will notseek to enforce the statute against others similarly situated to Plaintiff until the matter isfully resolved, the Court
DENIES
the Plaintiff’s Motion for Class Certification (Dkt. 16)without prejudice.
II. BACKGROUND
Plaintiff in this case, Luis Lebron, applied to the Florida Department of Childrenand Families (“DCF”) for benefits under the federal Temporary Assistance for NeedyFamilies (“TANF”) program in July 2011 to support himself and his minor child. LebronAff. ¶¶ 5, 14 (Dkt. 2-1 at 1, 2.) Plaintiff has sole custody of his four-year old son and isan undergraduate student at the University of Central Florida with prior military service.Lebron Aff. ¶ 5 (Dkt. 2-1 at 1.) Though Plaintiff attests that he has never used illegaldrugs, Section 414.0652 requires him to submit to drug testing as a condition ofeligibility for TANF benefits. Lebron Aff. ¶ 19 (Dkt. 2-1 at 3.)Plaintiff refuses to take a drug test because he believes that requiring him to payfor and submit to such a test is unreasonable when there is no reason to believe that heuses drugs. Lebron Aff. ¶ 19 (Dkt. 2-1 at 3.) DCF has stipulated that, as of the date ofthe initiation of this action, Plaintiff is eligible for TANF benefits, aside from his failure toprovide proof that he has tested negative for controlled substances. Berner Aff. ¶ 10(Dkt. 19-1 at 5; Dkt. 19 at 5.) Plaintiff contends that Section 414.0652 violates hisFourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches, and he seeks apreliminary injunction on behalf of himself and a class of persons similarly situated toenjoin the State from enforcing this statute as a condition for receipt of TANF benefits.
Case 6:11-cv-01473-MSS-DAB Document 33 Filed 10/24/11 Page 2 of 37 PageID 573
 
 
-3-The TANF block grant program was created by Congress
 
on August 22, 1996, aspart of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 601
et seq.
 The Act was intended to provide states with resources and flexibility to operateprograms designed meet the following goals:(1) provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for intheir own homes or in the homes of relatives;(2) end the dependence of needy parents on government benefits bypromoting job preparation, work, and marriage;(3) prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies andestablish annual numerical goals for preventing and reducing theincidence of these pregnancies; and(4) encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.42 U.S.C. § 601(a).To become eligible to receive TANF funds, a state must submit a plan thatoutlines how it intends to administer its program and set eligibility requirements forfamilies that apply for assistance. 42 U.S.C. § 602(a). States may generally usefederal funds “in any manner that is reasonably calculated to accomplish” the purposesof TANF. 42 U.S.C. § 604(a)(1). As a complement to this provision, 21 U.S.C. § 862bprovides: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, States shall not be prohibited bythe Federal Government from testing welfare recipients for use of controlled substancesnor from sanctioning welfare recipients who test positive for use of controlledsubstances.” 21 U.S.C. § 862b. Thus, Congress authorizes states to test welfarerecipients for controlled substances and to sanction those who test positive, but it does
Case 6:11-cv-01473-MSS-DAB Document 33 Filed 10/24/11 Page 3 of 37 PageID 574

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Zulekha Foulen added this note
The outcome of Luis W. Lebron vs. DCF regarding suspicionless drug testing of TANF receipiants. Interesting case study

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