Lebron v. Sec'y of the Fla. Dep't of Children & Families, No. 14–10322.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtMARCUS
Citation772 F.3d 1352
PartiesLuis W. LEBRON, Individually and as Class Representative, Plaintiff–Appellee, v. SECRETARY OF the FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES, Defendant–Appellant.
Decision Date03 December 2014
Docket NumberNo. 14–10322.

772 F.3d 1352

Luis W. LEBRON, Individually and as Class Representative, Plaintiff–Appellee,

No. 14–10322.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.

Dec. 3, 2014


Held Unconstitutional

West's F.S.A. § 414.0652

[772 F.3d 1355]

Maria Kayanan, Shalini Goel Agarwal, ACLU Foundation of Florida, Inc., Dante Pasquale Trevisani, Randall Challen Berg, Jr., Miami, FL, Shawn Alex Heller, Social Justice Law Collective PL, Washington, DC, Randall C. Marshall, American Civil Liberties Union, Montgomery, AL, Lisa Marie Raleigh, Office of the Attorney General, Tallahassee, FL, Jason D. Williamson, New York Civil Liberties Union, New York, NY, for Plaintiff–Appellee.

Allen C. Winsor, Pam Bondi, Lisa Marie Raleigh, Adam Scott Tanenbaum, Jason Vail, Osvaldo Vazquez, Office of the Attorney General, Tallahassee, FL, for Defendant–Appellant.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. D.C. Docket No. 6:11–cv–01473–MSS–DAB.
Before HULL and MARCUS, Circuit Judges, and TOTENBERG,* District Judge. MARCUS, Circuit Judge:

A Florida statute mandates suspicionless drug testing of all applicants seeking Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“TANF”) benefits. See Fla. Stat. § 414.0652. Luis Lebron sued the Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families (the “State”), claiming that the statute violates the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, applied against the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. After we affirmed the entry of a preliminary injunction barring the application of the statute against Lebron, the State halted the drug-testing program. See Lebron v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of Children & Families (Lebron I), 710 F.3d 1202 (11th Cir.2013). Since then, the district court granted final summary judgment to Lebron, declared § 414.0652 unconstitutional, and permanently enjoined its enforcement.

We affirm. On this record, the State has failed to meet its burden of establishing a substantial special need to drug test all TANF applicants without any suspicion. Even viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the State has not demonstrated a more prevalent, unique, or different drug problem among TANF applicants than in the general population. The ordinary government interests claimed in this case are nothing like the narrow category of special needs that justify blanket drug testing of railroad workers, certain federal Customs employees involved in drug interdiction or who carry firearms, or students who participate in extracurricular activities because those programs involve “surpassing safety interests,”

[772 F.3d 1356]

Skinner v. Railway Labor Execs. Ass'n, 489 U.S. 602, 634, 109 S.Ct. 1402, 103 L.Ed.2d 639 (1989), or “close supervision of school children,” Vernonia Sch. Dist. 47J v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646, 655, 115 S.Ct. 2386, 132 L.Ed.2d 564 (1995) (quoting New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325, 339, 105 S.Ct. 733, 83 L.Ed.2d 720 (1985)).

Moreover, as we held in Lebron I, the State cannot circumvent constitutional concerns by requiring that applicants consent to a drug test to receive TANF payments. When a government benefit is conditioned on suspicionless drug testing, the voluntariness of the program is properly viewed as a factor baked into the special needs reasonableness analysis, not as an exception to it.


Congress created TANF in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, Pub.L. No. 104–193, 110 Stat. 2105. TANF provides federal block grants for state programs “that provide[ ] assistance to needy families with (or expecting) children and provide[ ] parents with job preparation, work, and support services to enable them to leave the program and become self-sufficient.” 42 U.S.C. § 602(a)(1)(A)(i). Florida began disbursing TANF benefits, including Temporary Cash Assistance, to families in 1996 through its Department of Children and Families (“DCF” or the “Department”). To apply for TANF benefits in Florida, an individual must complete an application and must satisfy a number of eligibility requirements. Fla. Stat. § 414.095. Only expectant mothers and families with children qualify. Id. § 414.095(14)(a). In the application, an individual must disclose certain information, including medical history, immunization records, living arrangements, social security numbers, family income, employment history, and job-search activities. For families of two like Lebron and his son, the maximum Temporary Cash Assistance benefit currently is $241.00 per month. Id. § 414.095(10)(c). An individual generally may not receive TANF Temporary Cash Assistance for more than a lifetime cumulative total of 48 months. Id. § 414.105.

Congress specified in the 1996 Act that states were not prohibited “from testing welfare recipients for use of controlled substances nor from sanctioning welfare recipients who test positive for use of controlled substances.” 21 U.S.C. § 862b. In 2011, Florida enacted a statute requiring suspicionless drug screening for all TANF applicants as a condition of eligibility. Fla. Stat. § 414.0652. Under that law, applicants must provide a DCF-approved laboratory with a urine sample to be tested for Amphetamines, Methamphetamines, Cannabinoids (THC), Cocaine, Phencyclidine (PCP), Opiates, Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines, Methadone, and Propoxyphene. The statute does not require testing for alcohol. DCF must “[a]dvise each individual to be tested, before the test is conducted, that he or she may, but is not required to, advise the agent administering the test of any prescription or over-the-counter medication he or she is taking.” Id. § 414.0652(2)(d). Applicants bear the cost of testing, which during the period of the statute's implementation generally ranged between $24 and $45. However, if an applicant tests negative for controlled substances, the Department increases the amount of TANF benefit to compensate for the testing expense. Id. § 414.0652(2)(a). State law provides that “[a] sample shall be collected with due regard to the privacy of the individual providing the sample, and in a manner reasonably calculated to prevent substitution or contamination of the sample.” Id.

[772 F.3d 1357]

§ 112.0455(8)(a).1 Notably, an applicant may arrange the timing of filing an application; after the State determines that the applicant has satisfied all non-drug testing eligibility factors (e.g., income, assets, etc.), the applicant must pass a drug test within ten days.

Under § 414.0652, an individual who tests positive for controlled substances is ineligible for TANF benefits for one year, though those who fail drug tests may reapply for benefits after six months if they can document successful completion of a substance abuse treatment program and pass another drug test. Id. §§ 414.0652(1)(b), (2)(j). A parent cannot receive benefits without passing a drug test, but the parent's failure of a test does not affect a child's eligibility to receive TANF benefits; instead, a protective payee would be designated to receive benefits for the child. Id. § 414.0652(3).

The § 414.0652 drug-testing requirement went into effect on July 1, 2011, and was enforced until the district court entered a preliminary injunction on October 24, 2011. During that period, 4,046 TANF applicants submitted to drug testing. Only 108—2.67%—tested positive for drug use: 44 for cannabinoids (marijuana); 24 for benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax); 10 for cocaine; 9 each for barbiturates and opiates; 10 for methadone; 3 for propoxyphene; 5 for amphetamines or methamphetamines; and 2 for PCP.2 Throughout that period, 2,306 additional applicants did not complete applications and submit drug-test results to DCF, even though they were otherwise eligible for TANF Temporary Cash Assistance.

When he brought suit, Lebron had sole custody of his five-year-old son. A veteran of the United States Navy and a college student, Lebron was a thirty-five-year-old single-parent who lived with and cared for his disabled mother in Orlando, Florida. On July 16, 2011, Lebron applied to DCF for TANF benefits for himself and his son. Lebron initially signed a form agreeing to drug testing, but he later revoked his consent and refused to take the test. If Lebron had passed a drug test and submitted the results, the Department determined, he and his son would have been eligible for TANF benefits. Without the test, however, the Department deemed him ineligible to receive TANF assistance and denied his application on August 25, 2011.


On behalf of himself and a class of similarly situated persons, Lebron commenced this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida on September 6, 2011, against the Secretary of DCF in his official capacity. Lebron sought a declaration that requiring suspicionless drug testing for TANF eligibility

[772 F.3d 1358]

under § 414.0652 violated the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches. Lebron also asked for a permanent injunction barring the enforcement of § 414.0652. Lebron filed a motion for a preliminary injunction with his complaint.

On October 24, 2011, the district court preliminarily enjoined the State from requiring that Lebron submit to a suspicionless drug test pursuant to § 414.0652 as a condition for receiving TANF benefits until the case was resolved. Lebron v. Wilkins, 820 F.Supp.2d 1273, 1293 (M.D.Fla.2011). The court found that Lebron was substantially likely to succeed on the merits of his challenge, that he would suffer irreparable injury without an injunction, that his threatened injury outweighed the possible injury to the State, and that an injunction would not disserve the public interest. See id. at 1281 (citing Horton v. City of St. Augustine, Fla., 272 F.3d 1318, 1326 (11th Cir.2001)). Because the State stipulated that it would apply the...

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