University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name George v. Reihl NS-PA-0002
Docket / Court 2:10-cv-00586 ( E.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) National Security
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Case Summary
In February 2010, a 22-year-old college student majoring in Middle Eastern studies filed this lawsuit in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), FBI officials with the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), and the ... read more >
In February 2010, a 22-year-old college student majoring in Middle Eastern studies filed this lawsuit in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), FBI officials with the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), and the Philadelphia Police Department (PDP) based on civil rights intrusions at the Philadelphia International Airport. Upon discovering English-Arabic flashcards (including several listing words like "kidnap" and "bomb") and materials critical of U.S. foreign policy during routine airport security screening, TSA briefly detained and searched the plaintiff; he was then taken into custody by Philadelphia police officers and held for several hours. Eventually, two FBI agents came and interrogated him for a half hour; he was then released without charges.

Represented by private attorneys, the national American Civil Liberties Union, and the Pennsylvania ACLU chapter, the plaintiff alleged violations of the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments under Bivens, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 2671-2680. The federal government defendants moved to dismiss the complaint because of their qualified immunity from suit. The district court denied the motion and proceeded to discovery.

The federal defendants appealed the denial of their 12(b)(6) motion to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [11-04292]. On December 24, 2013, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded back to the District Court with instructions to grant the defendants' motion to dismiss as to the Fourth and First Amendment claims. In an opinion by Judge McKee [738 F.3d 562], TSA personnel's brief detention of the plaintiff was held lawful. The FBI's brief interrogation was likewise not unconstitutional. The local police's actions taking the plaintiff into custody and holding him for several hours may have been unlawful, but was not before the court; the court rejected the plaintiff's argument that the local law enforcement had served as mere agents for federal agencies.

On May 8, 2014 the District Court ordered a settlement conference before Magistrate Judge Caracappa. A pre-trial hearing was then conducted on October 30, 2014. Finally, on January 22, 2015 the court approved a settlement agreement and dismissed the case. The plaintiff received $25,000 in compensatory damages and attorney's fees up to $6,250. The defendants also agreed to, on a quarterly basis, instruct all police officers assigned to the airport that "investigative detentions may be made only on reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct and any arrest must be based on probable cause" and that a referral from a TSA agent does not, in itself, constitute probable cause. The court retained jurisdiction to supervise the injunction for eighteen months.

Elizabeth Homan - 11/03/2013
- 12/24/2013
Dan Hofman - 04/06/2016


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Confinement/isolation
Excessive force
False arrest
Over/Unlawful Detention
Placement in detention facilities
Restraints : physical
Search policies
Terrorism/Post 9-11 issues
Language
Arabic
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Bivens
Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. § 2674
Defendant(s) Federal Bureau of Investigation
Philadelphia Police Department
Transportation Security Administration
United States of America
Plaintiff Description 22-year-old college student majoring in Middle Eastern studies who was detained during a routine airport security check.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
Links Guest Post: New Resource — Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse FISA Archives
Just Security
Posted: Jun. 26, 2014
By: Margo Schlanger
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:10-cv-00586-EL (E.D. Pa.) 01/22/2015
NS-PA-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Damages 02/10/2010
NS-PA-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
United States' Motion to Intervene As An Interested Party 05/21/2010
NS-PA-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulated Protective Order 06/25/2010 (E.D. Pa.)
NS-PA-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaints for Damages 08/13/2010
NS-PA-0002-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order & Memorandum (Denying Defendant's Motion to Dismiss) 09/30/2011 (E.D. Pa.)
NS-PA-0002-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (Allowing False Light Tort Claim by Defendant to Proceed to Discovery) 10/28/2011 (2011 WL 10621600) (E.D. Pa.)
NS-PA-0002-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum 04/09/2012 (E.D. Pa.)
NS-PA-0002-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion (Vacating Order of the District Court Denying Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and Remanding with Instructions to Grant the Motion) 12/24/2013 (738 F.3d 562)
NS-PA-0002-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Court of Appeals website
Stipulated Order of Dismissal 01/22/2015 (E.D. Pa.)
NS-PA-0002-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Kearney, Mark A. (E.D. Pa.)
NS-PA-0002-9000
Ludwig, Edmund V. (E.D. Pa.)
NS-PA-0002-0003 | NS-PA-0002-0005 | NS-PA-0002-0006 | NS-PA-0002-0007 | NS-PA-0002-0009
McKee, Theodore Alexander (Third Circuit)
NS-PA-0002-0008
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Ebadolahi, Mitra (New York)
NS-PA-0002-9000
Katznelson, Zachary (Kansas)
NS-PA-0002-9000
Manes, Jonathan Matthew (New Jersey)
NS-PA-0002-0001 | NS-PA-0002-0004 | NS-PA-0002-9000
Roper, Mary Catherine (Pennsylvania)
NS-PA-0002-0001 | NS-PA-0002-0004 | NS-PA-0002-9000
Rowland, Lee B. (New York)
NS-PA-0002-9000
Rudovsky, David (Pennsylvania)
NS-PA-0002-0001 | NS-PA-0002-0004 | NS-PA-0002-9000
Saifee, Seema (Pennsylvania)
NS-PA-0002-9000
Tack-Hooper, Molly M. (Pennsylvania)
NS-PA-0002-9000
Wizner, Ben (New York)
NS-PA-0002-0001 | NS-PA-0002-0004 | NS-PA-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Franklin, Genelle (Pennsylvania)
NS-PA-0002-9000
Garren, Timothy P. (District of Columbia)
NS-PA-0002-0002
Heidrich, Kelly E. (District of Columbia)
NS-PA-0002-0002 | NS-PA-0002-9000
Johnson, Thomas F. (Pennsylvania)
NS-PA-0002-0002 | NS-PA-0002-9000
Kaufman, Paul W. (Pennsylvania)
NS-PA-0002-0002 | NS-PA-0002-9000
Mason, Mary Hampton (District of Columbia)
NS-PA-0002-0002
Memeger, Zane D. (Pennsylvania)
NS-PA-0002-0002
Ravel, Ann Miller (California)
NS-PA-0002-0002
Shoffel, Amanda C. (Pennsylvania)
NS-PA-0002-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -