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Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals rules that State of Florida does not have sovereign immunity from lawsuit brought by the National Association of the Deaf to require captioning for live and archived videos of Florida legislative proceedings

On November 10, 2020, in National Association of the Deaf, et al. v. State of Florida, et al., No. 18-12786, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a SDFL district court’s denial of the defendant State of Florida’s motion to dismiss a case brought by the National Association of the Deaf.  The plaintiffs filed suit against the State and several of its entities and officials under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq., challenging the defendants’ failure to provide captioning for live and archived videos of Florida legislative proceedings.  The defendants moved to dismiss the case based on their alleged sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment.  The Eleventh Circuit concluded that Congress had validly abrogated sovereign immunity regarding the plaintiffs’ claims under Title II.   The Eleventh Circuit also concluded that the plaintiffs were entitled to pursue injunctive relief under the doctrine of Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 28 S. Ct. 441 (1908) for alleged ongoing violations of Title II, noting that  Ex parte Young allows a plaintiff to seek prospective injunctive relief when challenging a  state official’s action on federal grounds.  The Court found inapplicable Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 106, 104 S. Ct. 911 (1984), which excludes injunctive relief if the plaintiff alleges only that a state official has violated state as opposed to federal law. 

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