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Case Name Pollgreen v. Morris IM-FL-0020
Docket / Court 80-1412, 80-1414 ( S.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Case Summary
On June 11, 1980, several boat owners or captains filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to challenge the seizure of their boats and the assessment of substantial fines by the INS pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1323 for allegedly transporting Cuban refugees to the U.S ... read more >
On June 11, 1980, several boat owners or captains filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to challenge the seizure of their boats and the assessment of substantial fines by the INS pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1323 for allegedly transporting Cuban refugees to the U.S. during the Mariel boat lift (also called the "Cuban Refugee Freedom Flotilla"), which occurred between April and June 1980. During that time period, over 100,000 undocumented Cuban nationals arrived in the U.S. via boat. Plaintiffs were mostly fishermen from Key West, Florida who went to Cuba with the intent to transport their relatives and friends, who they believed had valid visas for entry into the U.S. Plaintiffs claimed that instead of just picking up a few passengers, Cuban authorities forced them to load their boats with many unwanted Cuban nationals, which they did under duress. Plaintiffs' complaint alleged deprivation of Fifth Amendment Due Process and sought declaratory and injunctive relief, specifically asking for return of their boats without the imposition of any fines.

Note that a similar case can be found at IM-FL-12 of this collection (Richard Bruland, Raymond Bruland, Vance Hager, and William Baldwin v. Joe D. Howerton).

After an evidentiary hearing, the District Court entered a preliminary injunction, ordering the release of the thirty vessels so that they could be used for fishing operations, pending an administrative determination whether seizure or fines were warranted. Pollgreen v. Morris, 496 F.Supp. 1042 (S.D.Fla.1980).

Plaintiffs then proceeded with the administrative remedies before the District Director of the INS, who assessed over five million dollars in fines on the fishermen. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed and denied many of the appeals. Neither the Director nor the BIA would allow the plaintiffs to assert the defense of duress.

Plaintiffs then sought a permanent injunction in the District Court to enjoin imposition of the fines. The District Court entered summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs, finding that they had conclusively established the defense of duress and that the fines were unlawful. The Court issued a permanent injunction returning the boats to the owners and quashing all fines levied by the government. Pollgreen v. Morris, 579 F.Supp. 711 (S.D.Fla. 1984). The government appealed.

The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the court's finding that the duress defense was applicable, but vacated the court's judgment on the factual merits and ordered the District Court to remand the cases to the INS for rehearing, reconsideration, and redetermination of the plaintiffs liability in light of the duress defense. Pollgreen v. Morris, 770 F.2d 1536 (11th Cir. 1985). Rehearing was denied by Pollgreen v. Morris, 781 F.2d 905 (11th Cir. 1985).

Following remand, on February 1, 1988, the INS vacated its prior decisions and ruled that no fines would be imposed. Plaintiffs then filed an amended motion for attorneys' fees. The District Court granted the motion and awarded $181,080 in fees. The government appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed the award of fees, but remanded so that the amount of the award could be recalculated. Pollgreen v. Morris, 911 F.2d 527 (11th Cir. 07, 1990).

We have no further information on the case.

Dan Dalton - 12/30/2007

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Asylum - criteria
Asylum - procedure
Cuban/Haitian entrant
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
Plaintiff Description 19 vessel owners, managing agents, and captains of 30 fishing vessels that participated in the "Cuban Refugee Freedom Flotilla" from April through June 1980.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Confession of Judgment
Filing Year 1980
Case Ongoing No
1:80-cv-01412-SMA (S.D. Fla.)
IM-FL-0020-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/24/1984
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum Opinion and Preliminary Injunction (496 F.Supp. 1042) (S.D. Fla.)
IM-FL-0020-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/25/1980
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Opinion Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment and Denying Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (579 F.Supp. 711) (S.D. Fla.)
IM-FL-0020-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/24/1984
Source: Google Scholar
[USCA Opinion] (770 F.2d 1536)
IM-FL-0020-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/17/1985
Source: Google Scholar
[USCA Opinion] (911 F.2d 527)
IM-FL-0020-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/07/1990
Source: Google Scholar
show all people docs
Judges Aronovitz, Sidney Myer (S.D. Fla., FISC) show/hide docs
IM-FL-0020-0001 | IM-FL-0020-0002 | IM-FL-0020-9000
Brown, Stephen Thomas (S.D. Fla.) show/hide docs
Cox, Emmett Ripley (Eleventh Circuit, S.D. Ala.) show/hide docs
Dyer, David William (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit, S.D. Fla.) show/hide docs
Kravitch, Phyllis A. (Eleventh Circuit, Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
Roney, Paul Hitch (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit, FISCR) show/hide docs
Tjoflat, Gerald Bard (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit, M.D. Fla.) show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Muldoon, Francis H. (Florida) show/hide docs
Sireci, Thomas J. (Florida) show/hide docs
IM-FL-0020-0001 | IM-FL-0020-0002
Tolbert, Diane R. (Florida) show/hide docs
IM-FL-0020-0001 | IM-FL-0020-0002 | IM-FL-0020-0003 | IM-FL-0020-0004
Defendant's Lawyers Filppu, Lauri Steven (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Hussey, Thomas W. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Kendall, Robert Jr. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-FL-0020-0002 | IM-FL-0020-0003 | IM-FL-0020-0004
Robinson, Michael Eugene (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Rosenberg, Robert (Florida) show/hide docs
Targ, Robert I. (Florida) show/hide docs
Wampler, Atlee W. III (Florida) show/hide docs

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