Ursula Mancusi Ungaro
|Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida|
|Assumed office |
May 2, 2021
|Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida|
October 9, 1992 – May 2, 2021
|Appointed by||George H. W. Bush|
|Preceded by||Seat established by 104 Stat. 5089|
|Succeeded by||seat vacant|
|Born||January 29, 1951|
Miami Beach, Florida
|Education||University of Miami (BA)|
University of Florida College of Law (JD)
Ursula Mancusi Ungaro (formerly Ungaro-Benages; born January 29, 1951) is a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Ungaro was born in 1951 in Miami Beach, Florida. She graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1973 and from the University of Florida College of Law with a Juris Doctor in 1975.
Ungaro was in private practice in Miami from 1976 to 1987. Ungaro practiced at Frates Floyd Pearson Stewart Richman & Greer from 1976 to 1978, Blackwell Walker Gray Powers Flick & Hoelhl from 1978 to 1980, Finley Kumble Heine Underberg Manley & Casey from 1980 to 1985, and was a shareholder at Sparber Shap & Heilbronner, P.A. from 1985 to 1987. Ungaro was a judge of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida from 1987 to 1992.
Federal judicial service
President George H. W. Bush nominated Ungaro-Benages to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida on November 26, 1991, to the new seat created by 104 Stat. 5089. She was confirmed by the Senate on October 8, 1992, and she received commission on October 9, 1992. She assumed senior status on May 2, 2021.
On April 26, 2012, Ungaro ruled that an order issued by Florida Governor Rick Scott to randomly drug test 80,000 Florida state workers was unconstitutional. Ungaro found that Scott had not demonstrated that there was a compelling reason for the tests and that, as a result, they were an unreasonable search in violation of the Constitution.
On December 19, 2018, Ungaro ruled, in Gubarev v. Buzzfeed, that Buzzfeed had not committed defamation in printing, in full, the Steele dossier. The claim was brought by Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian internet entrepreneur, who claimed to have been defamed by the publishing of the dossier by the media company, Buzzfeed. In part, Ungaro ruled the law of defamation does not equally apply to media institutions and does not require institutions to spend considerable resources to go line by line and determine the veracity of every claim in news reports. Ruling "Such a line-by-line review would curtail the scope of the privilege and thus restrict the press’s ability to serve its basic function." For Buzzfeed, the use of a hyperlink citing a CNN article which contained a two-page synopsis of the report was sufficient to allow Buzzfeed to publish the report. The lawyers for Gubarev vowed to appeal the decision to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and specifically intend to argue the hyperlink to the original CNN article was insufficient. Buzzfeed's counsel praised the ruling "We are extremely pleased that Judge Ungaro affirmed our client’s First Amendment rights in this matter. Fighting against restraints on reporting and maintaining public confidence in the constitutionally-mandated right to a free and unfettered press is vitally important, perhaps more so now than ever. The ruling is a strong affirmation of the First Amendment. It’s more important that the public know what is being discussed at the highest levels of government than anything else. If BuzzFeed had not published, citizens would not understand the current conflict between the president and the other branches of government, as well as the conflict between the president and the special counsel."
On May 9, 2018, Judge Ungaro was assigned an FDA Case (US Vs US Stem Cells). The FDA is attempting to stop stem cell clinics from operating and selling an adipose tissue derived product called Stromal Vascular Fraction. Customers would undergo a minor liposuction to harvest stem cells which would then be used to treat various health issues.
US Stem Cells Inc. had a permanent injunction granted against them on June 3 of 2019 to stop performing Stromal Vascular Fraction procedures. Judge Ungaro released a stay order on July 19, 2019 to delay the destruction of the banked cells.
- "Ungaro, Ursula - Federal Judicial Center". www.fjc.gov.
- "Biographies of Federal Court Judges Sitting in Florida" (PDF).
- Alvarez, Lizette (26 April 2012). "State Worker Drug Tests Struck Down in Florida". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- Gerstein, Josh (4 January 2019). "Libel suit against BuzzFeed thrown out". Politico. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
- Commissioner, Office of the (March 24, 2020). "FDA seeks permanent injunctions against two stem cell clinics". FDA.
- Commissioner, Office of the (March 24, 2020). "Statement on stem cell clinic permanent injunction and FDA's ongoing efforts to protect patients from risks of unapproved products". FDA.
- Ursula Ungaro at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
Seat established by 104 Stat. 5089
| Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida