On September 4, 1981, a group of over 30 Hispanic-appearing citizens filed a class action suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, alleging that officials of Immigration and Naturalization Service and United States Border Patrol engaged in unconstitutional searches, seizures, raids, stops, and interrogations in western Michigan. Plaintiffs alleged violations of the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and sought injunctive and declaratory relief on behalf of the proposed class, as well as damages for individual plaintiffs. Attorneys with the Michigan Migrant Legal Assistance Project, Inc. and private firms represented the plaintiffs.
In August 1984, the District Court (Senior Judge Richard Alan Enslen) certified the case as a class action, with the class defined as "all persons of Mexican or Hispanic origin or appearance who have been, are, or will be living, working, traveling or visiting within the Western Federal Judicial District of Michigan." Ramirez v. Webb, 102 F.R.D. 968 (W.D.Mich. 1984).
Following class certification, the Court held a preliminary injunction hearing. The Court determined that plaintiffs were entitled to preliminary injunctive relief on restraining federal immigration officials from conducting illegal stops of automobiles containing Hispanic-appearing individuals but were not entitled to injunctive relief on its claims involving pedestrian stops and workplace raids. Judge Enslen found that Mexican appearance alone, coupled with subjective impressions of the officers, was an insufficient basis for stopping a vehicle. Ramirez v. Webb, 599 F.Supp. 1278 (W.D.Mich. 1984). The government appealed and the Sixth Circuit affirmed. Ramirez v. Webb, 787 F.2d 592 (6th Cir. 1986).
After the preliminary injunction was issued, several defendants moved for partial summary judgment, arguing that they were entitled to the defense of qualified immunity. Plaintiffs filed a cross-motion for partial summary judgment on the basis that the warrants used by the defendants in two of the incidents complained of were invalid. On June 24, 1985, the Court denied the defendants' motions and granted plaintiffs' motion. Defendants appealed. In a subsequent order, the Court dismissed certain claims based on the applicable Michigan statute of limitations. Plaintiffs filed a cross-appeal. Both parties then moved to dismiss each other's appeals. Plaintiffs' motion to dismiss the appeal was denied, defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiffs' cross-appeal was granted. Ramirez v. Webb, 803 F.2d 721 (6th Cir. 1986). In deciding the merits of the appeal, the Sixth Circuit reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings. Ramirez v. Webb, 835 F.2d 1153 (6th Cir. 1987).
On July 24, 25 and 26, 1989, the Court held a bench trial on the Bivens claims of three individual plaintiffs. After the hearing, the Court found that the defendant Border Patrol agent violated plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizures of their persons when he detained and questioned them without reasonable suspicion that they were undocumented aliens. The Court awarded plaintiffs compensatory damages in amounts of $500.00; $1,000.00; and $1,500.00. It did not assess punitive damages. Ramirez v. Webb, 719 F.Supp. 610 (W.D.Mich. 1989).
The PACER docket indicates that on November 17, 1989, a stipulation for compromise settlement between certain Plaintiffs and certain Defendants was filed. The settlement terms were not disclosed. On December 21, 1989, Judge Enslen issued an order denying plaintiffs' request for a judgment of liability and entry of a declaratory judgment. The case was dismissed. The details of that order were not available.
We have no further information on the case.Dan Dalton - 12/21/2007