On September 20, 2007 several Latino families and individuals, represented by the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund and private counsel, filed a class action suit against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of the Department of Homeland Security in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, challenging raids conducted as part of a program called "Operation Return to Sender." Plaintiffs alleged that federal agents unlawfully raided the homes of Latinos in the New York City area without warrants and often under cover of darkness, in search of fugitive aliens. Plaintiffs claimed that they were detained, interrogated and subjected to physical abuse, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The complaint sought damages and an injunction restraining ICE's New York Regional Office from executing unconstitutional raids.
On December 7, 2007, Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment claim. On July 30, 2008, the District Court (Judge John G. Koeltl) dismissed this motion as moot, because Plaintiffs had amended their complaint. On December 21, 2009, Plaintiffs' filed their fourth amended complaint, adding claims of Fifth Amendment violation (violation of Equal Protection due to the targeting of Latino communities); false imprisonment; reckless, negligent, and intentional infliction of emotional distress; trespass; assault and battery; and excessive force. They sought equitable relief, damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act, and damages under Bivens
. After the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Iqbal v. Ashcroft
, Defendants moved to dismiss the Bivens
claim against the high-ranking official defendants on March 29, 2010. They moved to dismiss the claim for injunctive relief on May 19, 2010, arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing to seek such relief because they were unlikely to again be subjected to the allegedly unconstitutional behavior.
On December 22, 2010, Plaintiffs filed a petition to certify their class. However, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Dukes v. Walmart
, the District Court withdrew Plaintiffs' petition for class certification and granted leave to amend. On November 22, 2011, Plaintiffs refiled their petition to certify their class. On April 16, 2012, the District Court (Judge Katherine B. Forrest) denied Plaintiffs' motion for class certification. 2012 WL 1344417. Plaintiffs moved for leave to appeal the District Court's decision, but this motion was denied on July 16, 2012 by the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
On August 1, 2011, the District Court (Judge Koeltl) dismissed Plaintiffs' Fourth and Fifth Amendment claims against all supervisory Defendants except for Defendants Torres and Forman. 811 F.Supp.2d 803.
On October 28, 2011, Plaintiffs filed a motion for partial summary judgment as to their Bivens
claim. Defendants responded with a cross-motion for partial summary judgment. On April 30, 2012, the District Court (Judge Forrest) denied both parties' motions. 2012 WL 1538431.
On September 14, 2012, Defendants moved to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. However, on September 27, the District Court (Judge Forrest) adjourned all pending motions, presumably due to ongoing settlement negotiations. On November 15, the court set a deadline of December 12 for the parties to submit a settlement or restore the action. This deadline was extended, after which the parties submitted a settlement agreement and voluntary dismissal on December 27. Judge Forrest signed the agreement on April 4, 2013. The settlement agreement stipulated to a payment of one million dollars from ICE to Plaintiffs ($36,000 to each Plaintiff, remainder to attorneys), termination of Plaintiffs' immigration proceedings, implementation of a policy of training ICE officers on how to obtain proper consent for home (and curtilage) entrance, and a discontinuance of "protective sweeps" unless there is a reasonable, articulable suspicion of danger. This agreement terminated the suit. - 04/06/2013