On June 19, 2007, the ACLU of Southern California, along with cooperating attorneys, filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in an attempt to stop the practice of federal immigration officials forcibly drugging people facing deportation. The named plaintiffs are Amadou Diouf, a native of Senegal who entered the U.S. in 1996 on a student visa and subsequently married a U.S. citizen, and Raymond Soeoth, an Indonesian citizen and ordained Christian minister, who entered the U.S. in 1999 and sought political asylum. Plaintiffs alleged violations of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and the Federal Tort Claims Act. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as monetary damages for the named plaintiffs.
Both plaintiffs, in separate incidents, were allegedly forcibly injected with Haldol and Cogentin, powerful anti-psychotic drugs, by officers of Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Neither plaintiff exhibited any sign of mental illness or instability, nor was either examined by a physician prior to being drugged.
The ACLU claimed that federal immigration officials had publicly admitted to injecting deportees with drugs in order to render them less agitated and combative during deportation. Officials, however, have denied that the practice was unlawful.
Shortly after initiating the lawsuit, plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, class certification and expedited limited discovery. The government filed opposition papers to plaintiffs' motion. The government further responded by moving to dismiss the lawsuit on jurisdictional grounds.
At the defendants' request, the District Court (Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr.) stayed all proceedings pending the resolution of defendants' motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs filed an emergency appeal to the Ninth Circuit in an attempt to have the stay vacated. The Ninth Circuit declined and remanded the case.
On 10/29/2007 Judge Hatter entered an order denying defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiffs' equitable claims. Plaintiffs then filed amended motions for class certification and injunctive relief. Shortly thereafter, the parties agreed to mediate the case and the Court entered an agreed upon order staying further proceedings pending mediation.
On January 9, 2008, the ICE released a memo, announcing changes to its policy regarding the adminstration of drugs to deportees. Under the new ICE policy, a court order is required before forcibly administering drugs to individuals during removal, and will be authorized only if the court finds that the medication is necessary to remove the individual.
The parties reached a settlement on January 28, 2008, the terms of which are unknown. On May 6, 2008, the case was dismissed with prejudice. Dan Dalton - 12/05/2007