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Case Name Amadei v. Duke [later Nielsen] IM-NY-0059
Docket / Court 1:17-cv-05967-NGG-VMS ( E.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Case Summary
On October 12, 2017, nine passengers of a domestic flight sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers asked to see every passenger’s identification prior to deplaning. The plaintiffs brought this challenge pursuant to the Administrative ... read more >
On October 12, 2017, nine passengers of a domestic flight sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers asked to see every passenger’s identification prior to deplaning. The plaintiffs brought this challenge pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and Declaratory Judgment Act, and alleged that the defendants violated the passengers’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, as well as the APA. Represented by the ACLU and the private law firm Covington & Burling, the plaintiffs sought declaratory relief, as well as an injunction restraining the defendants from further such searches and seizures. The suit was brought in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

The complaint asserted that on February 22, 2017, at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), CBP officers stopped and searched every passenger on the domestic Delta Airlines flight. Prior to deplaning at New York City’s JFK Airport, CBP officers required all passengers to provide identification. The plaintiffs—all of who were passengers from the flight—stated that the passengers understood they had no option but to comply. Indeed, CBP officers blocked the airplane exit. The plaintiffs argued that the officers had no warrant for the search, nor probable cause that any passenger had committed a crime or reasonable suspicion to justify investigation. The plaintiffs did not consent to any search or seizure. The plaintiffs described the search as frightening and upsetting, and described the officers’ behavior as coercive.

According to the complaint, CBP officers asserted that the incident was part of their routine practice. After media reports on the incident, the complaint indicated that CBP further added that the investigation was part of a search for a particular individual subject to removal from the U.S. The plaintiffs argued, however, that CBP still had not provided a reason for searching every passenger on the flight, especially considering it could have just relied on the flight manifest (passenger list).

The case was assigned to Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on October 12, 2017.

On January 16, 2018, the defendants moved to stay discovery pending their anticipated motion to dismiss, a request which Magistrate Judge Vera M. Scanlon denied on January 25. On March 9, the defendants filed their motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim. Though the court ordered the defendants to comply with discovery orders, that fall, the defendants moved to stay discovery pending the motion to dismiss, among other discovery disputes litigated that year. On December 13, 2018, the court denied the defendants' motion to dismiss. The court found that the plaintiffs had standing to sue because the defendants' conduct was part of an alleged widespread practice, which increased the plaintiffs' chances of being searched on a future domestic flight. The court also found that the plaintiffs had satisfied the final agency action requirement to bring an APA claim.

The parties continued to litigate discovery through the first half of 2019 until the parties notified the court that they had reach a settlement in July and would file for dismissal by September. On September 30, 2019, the parties filed for dismissal and agreed to settle the case.

Under the terms of the agreement, CBP circulated a new policy directive to ports of entry nationwide clarifying that CBP does not have a policy or practice of checking the identification of deplaning domestic passengers. If CBP officers do seek to conduct document checks of deplaning domestic passengers in the future, they were required to make clear through their words and actions that participation is voluntary and request that airline personnel announce over the airplane’s public address system that participation is voluntary. The officers were also required to provide an unimpeded path for passengers to exit the airplane and explain, if asked, that passengers who decline to participate will face no law enforcement consequences as a result. The settlement also allocated $10,000 in attorneys' fees to the ACLU and $30,000 in fees to Covington & Burling.

The court entered judgment dismissing the case on October 10, 2019. The case is now closed.

Virginia Weeks - 12/07/2017
Virginia Weeks - 01/30/2018
Ava Morgenstern - 05/05/2018
Chelsea Rinnig - 01/12/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
False arrest
Search policies
Immigration/Border
Border police
Constitutional rights
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Plaintiff Description Nine Delta Airlines domestic flight passengers
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Voluntary Dismissal
Filed 10/12/2017
Case Closing Year 2019
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Amadei v. Duke
https://www.aclu.org/
Date: Oct. 12, 2017
By: American Civil Liberties Union
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:17-cv-05967-NGG-VMS (E.D.N.Y.)
IM-NY-0059-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/10/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
IM-NY-0059-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/12/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum & Order [ECF# 83] (E.D.N.Y.)
IM-NY-0059-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/13/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement
IM-NY-0059-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/10/2019
Source: ACLU
show all people docs
Judges Garaufis, Nicholas Court not on record show/hide docs
IM-NY-0059-0002 | IM-NY-0059-9000
Scanlon, Vera M. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
IM-NY-0059-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Choe, Samantha J. (California) show/hide docs
IM-NY-0059-9000
Choe, Michelle Young-Eun (New York) show/hide docs
IM-NY-0059-9000
Diakun, Anna Natalia (New York) show/hide docs
IM-NY-0059-9000
Eiland, Katrina L. (California) show/hide docs
IM-NY-0059-0001 | IM-NY-0059-0003 | IM-NY-0059-9000
Handeyside, Hugh (New York) show/hide docs
IM-NY-0059-0001 | IM-NY-0059-0003 | IM-NY-0059-9000
Picker, Joshua Benjamin (New York) show/hide docs
IM-NY-0059-0001 | IM-NY-0059-0003 | IM-NY-0059-9000
Qadir, Lala R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-NY-0059-9000
Roman, Neil Kenneth (New York) show/hide docs
IM-NY-0059-0001 | IM-NY-0059-0003 | IM-NY-0059-9000
Shin, Clara J. (California) show/hide docs
IM-NY-0059-9000
Wang, Cecillia D (California) show/hide docs
IM-NY-0059-0001 | IM-NY-0059-0003 | IM-NY-0059-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Donoghue, Richard P. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-NY-0059-0003
Modafferi, Matthew J. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-NY-0059-9000
Olds, Dara A. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-NY-0059-9000

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