NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
Former Florida Department of Health data analyst Rebekah Jones is dropping a civil lawsuit alleging that state law-enforcement agents violated her rights when they searched her home and hauled away computer equipment in December.
Jones’ attorneys filed a notice last week in federal court in Tallahassee that said she was dismissing the lawsuit “without prejudice,” which means it could be filed again.
She has drawn national attention because of her accusations that Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has manipulated data about the COVID-19 pandemic. Jones was fired last year and set up a competing COVID-19 online dashboard to display data about the virus.
The FDLE conducted the search after an investigation allegedly linked her home address to a Nov. 10 message sent on an internal Department of Health multi-user account.
Jones, who has denied being responsible for the message, turned herself in last month on an arrest warrant that alleged she “was responsible for unauthorized access and several unauthorized access attempts to FDOH systems.”
The criminal case is separate from the civil lawsuit, which was filed in December in Leon County and later was moved to federal court. The civil lawsuit contended that FDLE agents violated Jones’ First Amendment rights and due-process rights and conducted an unlawful search and seizure when they searched her home.
U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor issued an order on Feb. 6 indicating the dismissal has not been finalized because of a remaining issue about whether each side would bear its own legal costs and fees.