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Case Name Brown v. Transportation Security Administration CJ-PA-0007
Docket / Court 2:20-cv-00064-LPL ( W.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Attorney Organization Institute for Justice
Case Summary
TSA and DEA seized and confiscated $82,373 in cash from the plaintiff’s carry-on as she boarded a domestic flight in Pennsylvania in August 2019. Visiting her father for the weekend, she had learned that he had stored his life savings, in cash, in numerous envelopes hidden in his home. She ... read more >
TSA and DEA seized and confiscated $82,373 in cash from the plaintiff’s carry-on as she boarded a domestic flight in Pennsylvania in August 2019. Visiting her father for the weekend, she had learned that he had stored his life savings, in cash, in numerous envelopes hidden in his home. She offered to deposit the money in a new account she planned to create for him, but the cash was seized before she could deposit it. On January 21, 2020, she and her father filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, alleging that the agencies had confiscated her father's property without suspecting or accusing her of a crime. The plaintiffs, represented by the Institute for Justice, claimed that TSA had acted beyond its statutory authority (49 U.S.C. §114 and §§44901-2), and that both TSA and DEA had violated her Fourth Amendment rights, by confiscating her property without probable cause. The case was assigned to Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan.

The plaintiffs sought certification of two classes: a “TSA Class” of air travelers from January 15, 2014 onward whose property or person was seized by TSA because of a "large amount" of currency in their possession; and a “DEA Class” of air travelers from January 15, 2014 onward whose property was seized by DEA because they were traveling with at least $5,000 in currency. For both classes, the plaintiffs sought class-wide declaratory and injunctive relief against the agencies. Individually, they sought the return of the $82,373, along with compensatory damages and costs and fees.

In February 2020 DEA offered, without explanation, to return the money.

On May 29, 2020, both agencies moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. As of June 9, 2020, those motions are pending.

Gregory Marsh - 06/09/2020


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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
Forfeiture
Pattern or Practice
Search policies
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
Ex Parte Young (Federal) or Bivens
Defendant(s) Drug Enforcement Administration
Transportation Security Administration
Plaintiff Description An individual from whom tens of thousands of dollars in cash was confiscated by TSA and DEA at an airport, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Institute for Justice
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 01/21/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Pittsburgh Airport Forfeiture
https://ij.org
Date: Mar. 4, 2020
By: Institute for Justice
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
W.D. Pa.
05/17/2020
2:20-cv-00064-LPL
CJ-PA-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
W.D. Pa.
01/15/2020
Class Complaint for Class-Wide Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and for Individual Relief of Return of Property and Compensatory Damages [ECF# 1]
CJ-PA-0007-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
not recorded
02/08/2020
[DEA Letter]
CJ-PA-0007-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
show all people docs
Judges Lenihan, Lisa Pupo (W.D. Pa.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
CJ-PA-0007-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Alban, Dan (Virginia) show/hide docs
CJ-PA-0007-0001 | CJ-PA-0007-9000
Hoover, Richard (Virginia) show/hide docs
CJ-PA-0007-0001 | CJ-PA-0007-9000
Tsitsuashvili, Jaba (California) show/hide docs
CJ-PA-0007-0001 | CJ-PA-0007-9000
Defendant's Lawyers D'Orazio, Larry (Virginia) show/hide docs
CJ-PA-0007-0002
Inkeles, David W (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-PA-0007-9000
Tulis, Elizabeth (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-PA-0007-9000

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