Appellant, Jacqueline Obenschain, appeals the trial court's final order dismissing her second amended complaint with prejudice. Appellant argues the trial court erred both by holding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction, and by dismissing her complaint with prejudice without leave to amend, for failure to state a cause of action. We agree with both arguments and reverse.
Appellant filed a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, and a petition for writ of habeas corpus under the provisions of section 394.459(8)(b), Florida Statutes. Sections 26.012(2)(b) and 394.459(8)(b), Florida Statutes (1996), grant the trial court jurisdiction to hear Appellant's claims. Thus, the trial court erred in finding it lacked subject matter jurisdiction.
Appellant filed her complaint on August 8, 1997. Before service of the complaint on Appellees, Appellant filed an amended complaint, as a matter of right, pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.190(a), in order to update factual allegations. The lower court dismissed the amended complaint without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to name a necessary party. Appellant filed a second amended complaint to include the necessary party. The trial court then dismissed Appellant's second amended complaint with prejudice and without leave to amend, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and for failure to state causes of action. In so doing, the trial court abused its discretion.
Dismissal of a complaint with prejudice is a severe sanction which should be granted only when the pleader has failed to state a cause of action, and it
Appellant did not abuse her privilege to amend her complaint. The dismissal of the second amended complaint with prejudice was the first indication that the pled causes of action were inadequate. Additionally, based on the facts pled in the second amended complaint, it appears Appellant could amend her complaint to state causes of action. Accordingly, the trial court abused its discretion by dismissing Appellant's second amended complaint with prejudice.
ALLEN and WEBSTER, JJ., CONCUR.