Ursula Mancusi Ungaro

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Ursula Ungaro
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
Assumed office
October 9, 1992
Appointed byGeorge H. W. Bush
Preceded bySeat established by 104 Stat. 5089
Personal details
Born (1951-01-29) January 29, 1951 (age 68)
Miami Beach, Florida
EducationUniversity of Miami (B.A.)
University of Florida College of Law (J.D.)

Ursula Mancusi Ungaro (born January 29, 1951; formerly known as Ursula Ungaro-Benages) is a 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.[1]


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.[2] Ungaro was a judge of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida from 1987 to 1992.[1]

Federal judicial service[edit]

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. Confirmed by the Senate on October 8, 1992, she received commission on October 9, 1992.[1]

Notable cases[edit]

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.[3]

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.[4] 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.”


  1. ^ a b c "Ungaro, Ursula - Federal Judicial Center". www.fjc.gov.
  2. ^ "Biographies of Federal Court Judges Sitting in Florida" (PDF).
  3. ^ Alvarez, Lizette (26 April 2012). "State Worker Drug Tests Struck Down in Florida". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  4. ^ Gerstein, Josh (4 January 2019). "Libel suit against BuzzFeed thrown out". Politico. Retrieved 19 December 2018.


Legal offices
Preceded by
Seat established by 104 Stat. 5089
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida