Doe as Next Friend of Doe #6 v. Swearingen, No. 21-10644 (11th Cir. 2022)
Nature of Case: A group of individuals required to register under Florida’s sex offense registry law, whose offenses pre-date Florida’s registry law enacted in 1997, brought a § 1983 challenge against the Commissioner of Florida Department of Law Enforcement, challenging the constitutionality of the registry law, and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.
Over the past twenty-five years, the Florida legislature amended the registry law more than a dozen times, progressively increasing the burden on required registrants. Plaintiffs sued to remedy various injuries, some caused by the 2018 amendments and some arising from other provisions of Florida’s registry law.
The District Court granted the Commissioner’s motion to dismiss based on the conclusion that the claims were time-barred, and denied plaintiffs’ motion to dismiss to file an amended complaint. In so ruling, the district court agreed with the Commissioner that Plaintiffs’ injuries stem from one-time acts: the enactment of each provision that allegedly injuries them. Therefore, under the applicable statute of limitations, they were required to sue within four years of the date that each provision that imposed the challenged burdens was enacted.
Plaintiffs appealed the District Court’s decision.
Holding: The Eleventh Circuit disagreed with the District Court’s holding, noting that the District Court failed to consider whether the plaintiffs, who are subject to the registration requirements day after day, were continually injured by the requirements within the statutory period. In so holding, the Court stated that the registry’s claims regarding reputational injury and regular reporting requirements are saved by the continuing violation doctrine.