Torres v. Miami-Dade County, 051518 FED11, 17-14205

Docket Nº:17-14205
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM:
Party Name:PHILLIP TORRES, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, Defendant-Appellee, ERIC A. RODRIGUEZ, Defendant.
Judge Panel:Before WILLIAM PRYOR, ROSENBAUM, and ANDERSON, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:May 15, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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PHILLIP TORRES, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, Defendant-Appellee,

ERIC A. RODRIGUEZ, Defendant.

No. 17-14205

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

May 15, 2018

DO NOT PUBLISH

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida D.C. Docket No. 1:15-cv-24013-DPG

Before WILLIAM PRYOR, ROSENBAUM, and ANDERSON, Circuit Judges.

PER CURIAM:

Phillip Torres, proceeding pro se, appeals the dismissal of his second amended complaint against his employer, Miami-Dade County (the "County"). Liberally construing Torres's brief on appeal, he argues that the district court erred by narrowly construing his second amended complaint, and that he intended to bring a claim for whistleblower retaliation under the Supreme Court's decision in Lane v. Franks, 573 U.S. ___, 134 S.Ct. 2369 (2014), which concerned First Amendment retaliation claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. After careful review, we conclude that the district court should have construed Torres's second amended complaint as raising a First Amendment retaliation claim under § 1983, so we vacate and remand for further proceedings consistent with that construction.

I.

According to Torres's second amended complaint, the operative pleading in this case, Torres has worked as an engineer in the County's Water and Sewer Department since 1993. In 2010, the County, citing difficult financial conditions, eliminated his supervisory position and classification as Senior Professional Engineer, which resulted in a salary cut of over $30, 000 per year. Since then, the County's financial condition has improved, and it has reinstated many engineers, some with far less experience than he, to their former positions and classifications. But it has not reinstated him to his former position and classification, leaving him with a permanent demotion and salary cut.

Torres described the County's actions as "ongoing whistleblower retaliation, " primarily in relation to complaints he filed with the Miami-Dade State Attorney in September 2013 and with the County's Deputy Mayor in January 2014. He said that, in submitting those complaints, he believed he was "bringing to light acts of mismanagement, corruption, and wasteful spending." He also submitted complaints with the Office of Human Rights and Fair Employment Practices in August 2013 and with the EEOC in March 2014. Torres alleged that he had "only received retaliation" in response to this "protected activity."

The second amended complaint listed two specific counts. First, Torres alleged that the County had violated his right to be free of retaliation for "blowing the whistle" on the County's "official misconduct, corruption[, ] and wrongdoing." He claimed that this right was protected by 5 U.S.C. § 9701. Second, he claimed that the...

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