Andrews v. Florida Parole Com'n, No. 1D98-1931.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtSMITH, LARRY G., Senior.
Citation768 So.2d 1257
PartiesLawrence Scott ANDREWS, Appellant, v. The FLORIDA PAROLE COMMISSION and The Florida Department of Corrections, Appellees.
Decision Date18 October 2000
Docket NumberNo. 1D98-1931.

768 So.2d 1257

Lawrence Scott ANDREWS, Appellant,
v.
The FLORIDA PAROLE COMMISSION and The Florida Department of Corrections, Appellees

No. 1D98-1931.

District Court of Appeal of Florida, First District.

October 18, 2000.


768 So.2d 1258
John D. Middleton of Middleton & Prugh, P.A., Melrose, for Appellant

Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General, and Amelia L. Beisner, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellees.

SMITH, LARRY G., Senior Judge.

Lawrence Scott Andrews appeals the dismissal of his complaint against the Florida Parole Commission (Commission) and the Department of Corrections (DOC) for false imprisonment and for negligent discharge of official duties. The trial court dismissed the complaint concluding both that sovereign immunity barred recovery, and that Andrews had been taken into custody and incarcerated by DOC under a facially valid warrant. We conclude that the actions of the Commission were quasi-judicial in nature and entitled to protection under the doctrine of judicial immunity. We further conclude that no action for false imprisonment can be maintained against DOC because, as shown by the allegations of the complaint itself, Andrews had been taken into custody and incarcerated by DOC based upon a presumptively valid warrant and commitment order issued by the Commission. We therefore affirm the order and judgment of dismissal; however, we certify to the Florida Supreme Court a question of great public importance concerning whether the Commission and DOC can be held liable for false imprisonment under circumstances such as were presented in this case.

Proceedings Below

Andrews' complaint for money damages based on his alleged wrongful imprisonment, alleged, in part, as follows:

768 So.2d 1259
7. Plaintiff was convicted of crimes occurring before and after October 1, 1988.
8. On April 1, 1991, the Plaintiff was sentenced to 30 months incarceration... in case number 88-642.... The criminal conduct in that case occurred prior to October 1, 1988.
9. Again, on April 4, 1991, Plaintiff was sentenced to 30 months on case numbers 90-574 and 91-25 ... which ran consecutive [to] the thirty months given in case number 88-642 referred to above. The criminal conduct in those cases occurred [after] October 1, 1988.
10. Upon expiration of the sentences through gain time on May 28, 1993, Plaintiff was released on conditional release to be supervised until December 25, 1995. This date was calculated by considering the two separate sentences as one 60 month sentence despite the fact that only the second thirty month sentence was subject to the provisions of Florida Statute § 947.1405(1) and (2). The first thirty month sentence was subject to provisions of § 944.291, Fla. Stat. which dictate that the inmate shall have no supervision by either Defendant.
11. On May 13, 1994, the First District Court of Appeal in Westlund v. Florida Parole Commission, 637 So.2d 52 (Fla. 1st DCA 1994) specifically held that it was illegal for [the Defendants] to include sentences for criminal conduct occurring prior to October 1, 1988 in their calculation of the length of conditional release.
12. Under Westlund, the maximum time that the Plaintiff could have been supervised to, and hence subject to revocation by Defendant COMMISSION was September 12, 1994.
13. Based on a warrant issued by Defendant Commission after September 12, 1994, the Plaintiff was returned to Defendant DOC custody on Defendant COMMISSION's first illegal warrant initially as a parole release violator on December 9, 1994 but then illegally was reinstated to conditional release by Defendant COMMISSION on January 31, 1995....
14. The Plaintiff again was illegally returned to Defendant DOC custody on December 28, 1995 on Defendant COMMISSION's void warrant and was given a tentative release date by Defendant DOC of November 11, 1997. The Defendants knew or should have known of the decision in Westlund when they considered Plaintiff's case at this time.
15. Within a very short time of his re-incarceration, Plaintiff filed many inmate grievances, both at the institutional level and Defendant DOC at Tallahassee Central Office complaining about the illegality of his incarceration and citing the Westlund case.
. . . .
23. Plaintiff filed a writ of habeas corpus, but prior to the Court's ruling, Defendant COMMISSION issued an emergency order dated October 16, 1996 which resulted in the unconditional release of the Plaintiff on October 17, 1996 from incarceration.
24. As a direct and proximate cause of [the Defendant's] actions or omissions, Plaintiff was falsely and illegally incarcerated....

DOC and the Commission moved to dismiss arguing that sovereign immunity shielded them from liability. The Commission also claimed that its actions were protected by the doctrine of judicial immunity.

In Westlund v. Florida Parole Comm'n, 637 So.2d 52 (Fla. 1st DCA 1994), we held that under the provisions of section 947.1405, Florida Statutes (1991), the

last date of conditional release supervision may lawfully be calculated with reference only to sentences imposed for offenses committed on or after October 1, 1988. Sentences imposed on account of ... offenses ... committed ... [before October 1,] 1988, cannot be the basis for determining ... [the] last date
768 So.2d 1260
of conditional release supervision under the Act.

Id. at 54; see also Parole Comm'n v. Cooper, 701 So.2d 543, 545 (Fla.1997) ("[I]n Westlund v. Florida Parole Comm'n, 637 So.2d 52 (Fla. 1st DCA 1994), the First District correctly determined that sentences for uncovered offenses that were committed before the effective date of the Act are distinct from covered offense[s] committed after its effective date.").

Andrews' complaint alleged, consistent with the Westlund interpretation of section 947.1405 as applied to the facts here, that his last lawful date of conditional release supervision was September 12, 1994. As explained in Westlund, the gain time applied to reduce the period of incarceration under pre-October 1, 1988 offenses cannot be used in calculating the period of time an inmate is subject to conditional release supervision. See Westlund, 637 So.2d at 54. Notwithstanding this limitation on the Commission's authority to exercise supervision, the Commission at the time of Andrews' initial release established December 25, 1995 as the termination date for his conditional release supervision. Thereafter, on two occasions subsequent to September 12, 1994, the Commission issued warrants for Andrews' arrest based upon alleged violations of the terms his conditional release.1 DOC took custody of Andrews pursuant to these warrants.

The trial court initially denied the motion to dismiss but, upon motion for reconsideration, accepted the state's position and granted the motion to dismiss as to both defendants, reasoning

that under the facts alleged in the Complaint sovereign immunity bars recovery. Specifically, under the facts alleged, there is neither an underlying common law or statutory duty of care with respect to the alleged negligent conduct, which would give rise to an individual cause of action for the Plaintiff. The remedy for the Plaintiff and others similarly situated is through appeal, writ of mandamus, habeas corpus,[2] or similar review. Additionally, the claim for false imprisonment is barred because Plaintiff was taken into custody upon a valid warrant, even if issued because of some alleged negligence.

This appeal followed.

Standard of Review

We review the order granting the motion to dismiss de novo. See Rittman v. Allstate Ins. Co., 727 So.2d 391, 393 (Fla. 1st DCA 1999) ("The sufficiency of a complaint in a civil action is a question of law."). In ruling on the motion, the trial court had to accept as true all well-pleaded allegations of the complaint and limit its consideration of factual matters to the four corners of the complaint. See Brewer v. Clerk of the Circuit Court, 720 So.2d 602, 603 (Fla. 1st DCA 1998); Varnes v. Dawkins, 624 So.2d 349, 350 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993). A reviewing court operates under the same constraints. See Rittman, 727 So.2d at 393; McKinney-Green, Inc. v. Davis, 606 So.2d 393, 394 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992).

Negligence Claims

As a preliminary matter, we dispose of those allegations of the complaint seeking to impose liability upon both the Commission and DOC based upon their alleged breach of duties placed upon them by statute. It is clear to us that the statutes invoked, specifically, sections

768 So.2d 1261
944.2753 and 947.1405,4 are simply a part of an overall statutory scheme whose sole purpose is the protection of the public through a system of apprehension, conviction and incarceration of criminal offenders. These statutory provisions, and other related provisions, create no duty on the part of the Commission or DOC for the benefit of any private person, and thus afford no basis for an action by any aggrieved individual for alleged negligence or errors in their application or enforcement. See Vann v. Department of Corrections, 662 So.2d 339, 340 (Fla.1995) ("A governmental duty to protect its citizens is a general duty to the public as a whole, and where there is only a general duty to protect the public, there is no duty of care to an individual citizen which may result in liability.") (quoting Everton v. Willard, 468 So.2d 936 (Fla.1985))

False Imprisonment Claims

Appellant argues that even in the absence of a statutory duty, DOC and the Commission are liable for damages for the common law tort of false imprisonment. We hold that under the facts alleged there is no liability on the part of either party for false imprisonment.

Florida's highest court has clearly established that the doctrine of judicial immunity exists in Florida apart from the concept of sovereign immunity; that this type of immunity embraces persons who exercise a judicial or quasi-judicial function; and that this immunity is unaffected by Florida's waiver...

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35 practice notes
  • City of Gainesville v. STATE, DOT, No. 1D99-4548.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • March 5, 2001
    ...of law. On appeal of a judgment granting a motion to dismiss, the standard of review is de novo. See Andrews v. Florida Parole Comm'n, 768 So.2d 1257, 1260 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000); Rittman v. Allstate Ins. Co., 727 So.2d 391, 393 (Fla. 1st DCA 1999) ("The sufficiency of a complaint in a civil a......
  • Whittington v. Town of Surfside, No. 06-CIV-21032.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • June 6, 2007
    ...law, false arrest and false imprisonment/detention are "different labels for the same cause of action." Andrews v. Florida Parole Comm'n, 768 So.2d 1257, 1266 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000) (false arrest and false imprisonment are "essentially the same tort"). As under federal law, the existence of pr......
  • Eiras v. Florida, Case No. 3:16–cv–231–J–34PDB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • March 7, 2017
    ...common law tort; false arrest is only one of several methods of committing false imprisonment.") with Andrews v. Fla. Parole Comm'n , 768 So.2d 1257, 1266 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000) ("[F]alse imprisonment and false arrest are essentially the same tort [.]"); Weissman v. K–Mart Corp. , 396 So.2d 11......
  • Moss v. Mamalis, No. 94,379.
    • United States
    • Kansas Court of Appeals
    • July 14, 2006
    ...more directly on point. However, the Florida Court of Appeals has addressed a similar issue. See Andrews v. Florida Parole Com'n, 768 So.2d 1257 In Andrews, the Florida Department of Corrections had unlawfully arrested and incarcerated Andrews for violations committed during his conditional......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
35 cases
  • City of Gainesville v. STATE, DOT, No. 1D99-4548.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • March 5, 2001
    ...of law. On appeal of a judgment granting a motion to dismiss, the standard of review is de novo. See Andrews v. Florida Parole Comm'n, 768 So.2d 1257, 1260 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000); Rittman v. Allstate Ins. Co., 727 So.2d 391, 393 (Fla. 1st DCA 1999) ("The sufficiency of a complaint in a civil a......
  • Whittington v. Town of Surfside, No. 06-CIV-21032.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • June 6, 2007
    ...law, false arrest and false imprisonment/detention are "different labels for the same cause of action." Andrews v. Florida Parole Comm'n, 768 So.2d 1257, 1266 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000) (false arrest and false imprisonment are "essentially the same tort"). As under federal law, the existence of pr......
  • Eiras v. Florida, Case No. 3:16–cv–231–J–34PDB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • March 7, 2017
    ...common law tort; false arrest is only one of several methods of committing false imprisonment.") with Andrews v. Fla. Parole Comm'n , 768 So.2d 1257, 1266 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000) ("[F]alse imprisonment and false arrest are essentially the same tort [.]"); Weissman v. K–Mart Corp. , 396 So.2d 11......
  • Moss v. Mamalis, No. 94,379.
    • United States
    • Kansas Court of Appeals
    • July 14, 2006
    ...more directly on point. However, the Florida Court of Appeals has addressed a similar issue. See Andrews v. Florida Parole Com'n, 768 So.2d 1257 In Andrews, the Florida Department of Corrections had unlawfully arrested and incarcerated Andrews for violations committed during his conditional......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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