No First Amendment Right to Sunbathe Nude
(CN) - A Florida beach that limits nude sunbathing to a small fenced-off area does not infringe upon a Naturist's civil liberties, a federal judge ruled.
Thomas Wittbold said Miami-Dade County and others are wrong to prohibit nudity outside of the posted area of Haulover Beach Park, thereby preventing him from practicing Naturism on 97 percent of the 177-acre property with "deliberate indifference to his constitutional right to freely exercise his religion."
In his third amended complaint, Wittbold alleged failures to implement proper policies and customs, along with civil rights violations.
Wittbold also wanted the court to declare that he should no longer be treated with prejudice and to designate "the Naturism Class" as a protected class.
Miami Dade County, its board of commissioners, the South Florida Free Beaches/Florida Naturist Association and two individuals were the last defendants remaining in Wittbold's original complaint from 2011.
The court had previously terminated claims against Haulover Beach founders Shirley and Richard Mason, Miami-Dade County Parks and Recreation, and the Beach Education Advocates for Culture, Health, Environment and Safety Foundation Institute Inc.
Claiming that the naturist group as a subordinate of the county, Wittbold argued that it had provided misinformation and acted under the color of state law when a lifeguard in 1991 and a beach ambassador in 2012 asserted that he would be arrested and go to jail if he proceeded nude beyond signs reading "Clothing or Swimsuit Required Beyond this Point."
Wittbold also alleged that the county "made no meaningful effort to train its subordinates or employees as to the legality of nude sunbathing in Haulover Beach Park in order to intentionally mislead the public and establish a custom."
The court dismissed the action with prejudice on June 27, saying it amounted to nothing more than a "shotgun pleading."
"Shotgun pleadings require the trial court decipher the pleading, sift out irrelevancies and match claims to facts," U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke wrote. "The Eleventh Circuit has repeatedly refused to allow such pleadings because of the burdensome nature of such a task."
Rejecting claims that the beach infringed upon Wittbold's rights to religious freedom, due process and equal protection, Cooke said "pleading a claim requires more than labels and conclusions."
Wittbold's action is nothing more than a "lengthy and discordant collection of facts and baseless allegations of prejudice," according to the ruling.
"The complaint is a cacophony of irrelevant facts, biblical quotations and personal opinions that fail to state and cause of action," Cooke added. "As a result, the pleading must be dismissed."
Wittbold's claims under the First Amendment failed to allege any facts to support allegations that the naturist group acted under color of state law or that the county delegated it any authority.
She also said the due process allegations "vague, conclusory and irrelevant to the claims."
Wittbold additionally failed to identify any policies, customs or practices that he challenged, according to the ruling.
"Denial to access of other parts of the public beach for nude sunbathing is not a deprivation of a protected property interest ... because plaintiff does not have a liberty interest in public nudity," Cooke wrote.