University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Gete v. INS IM-WA-0006
Docket / Court 2:94-cv-00881-TSZ ( W.D. Wash. )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Case Summary
On June 10, 1994, a group of plaintiffs whose vehicles had been seized and forfeited by the INS for alleged violations of federal immigration law, after they entered the U.S. from Canada without permission, filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of ... read more >
On June 10, 1994, a group of plaintiffs whose vehicles had been seized and forfeited by the INS for alleged violations of federal immigration law, after they entered the U.S. from Canada without permission, filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington to challenge the seizure and forfeiture proceedings and obtain return of their vehicles.

On an March 21, 1995, the District Court for (Judge Carolyn R. Dimmick) denied class certification and granted summary judgment for the government, finding: (1) the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and (2) the plaintiffs waived any challenge to the forfeiture proceedings because they pursued administrative proceedings. Plaintiffs appealed.

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judge Stephen Reinhardt) reversed and remanded the case. It held that the INA, 8 U.S.C. § 1324(b), allowed for forfeiture of vehicles only when the vehicles were used to transport undocumented aliens and not merely because the vehicle entered the U.S. without permission. Moreover, since plaintiffs raised a constitutional challenge to the INS procedures, the case could properly be brought in federal court. Gete v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 121 F.3d 1285, 1 (9th Cir. 1997).

On remand, the District Court (Judge Thomas S. Zilly) certified the case as a class action, but declined to establish a nationwide class, instead limiting the class in geographic scope. Judge Zilly also entered a preliminary injunction. Gete v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11806 (W.D. WA July 22, 1999). The government appealed.

The appeal was dismissed and settlement negotiations were pursued. The parties eventually reached a resolution of the case. Judge Zilly formally approved the settlement on December 5, 2000 and the case was dismissed without prejudice. Under the terms of the settlement, the INS agreed to change its seizure and forfeiture policies and implement new training protocols. Sections regarding Mitigation Guidance and Probable Cause were to be added to the INS Conveyance Seizure Manual. [See documents in our collection for this case].

Brian Ponton - 08/31/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Search policies
Immigration
Border police
Constitutional rights
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
Defendant(s) Immigration and Naturalization Service
Plaintiff Description All persons within the U.S. whose vehicles have, after 6/10/89, been seized, or may be seized and subjected to forfeiture proceedings, and who have filed or may file an administrative petition for relief from forfeiture.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Case Closing Year 2000
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
94-CV-00881-TSZ (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/10/1994
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
(U.S. Court of Appeals)
IM-WA-0006-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/02/1995
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
INS Conveyance Seizure Manual: Probable Cause
IM-WA-0006-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/30/1993
Opinion (121 F.3d 1285)
IM-WA-0006-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/04/1997
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (1999 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 11806) (W.D. Wash.)
IM-WA-0006-0006.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/22/1999
Source: LexisNexis
INS Conveyance Seizure Manual: Mitigation Guidance
IM-WA-0006-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/31/2000
Notice Of Opportunity to Reconsider Forfeture(Aug. 6, 2001)
IM-WA-0006-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/06/2001
Joint Stipulation Regarding Settlement and Request to Remove Case from Litigation Calendar
IM-WA-0006-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/29/2002
Judges Reinhardt, Stephen Roy Court not on record
IM-WA-0006-0005
Zilly, Thomas Samuel Court not on record
IM-WA-0006-0006 | IM-WA-0006-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Pauw, Robert (Washington)
IM-WA-0006-0001 | IM-WA-0006-0005 | IM-WA-0006-9000 | IM-WA-0006-9001
Defendant's Lawyers DePaolo, Carmene Zsa Zsa (Washington)
IM-WA-0006-9000 | IM-WA-0006-9001
Funk, Stephen W. (District of Columbia)
IM-WA-0006-9000
Hopkins, David B. (Washington)
IM-WA-0006-9000 | IM-WA-0006-9001
Johnson, Stanley (District of Columbia)
IM-WA-0006-0006
Laverty, Dana C (Washington)
IM-WA-0006-0006 | IM-WA-0006-9000
Michaels, William E. (District of Columbia)
IM-WA-0006-9000
Pickrell, Christopher Lee (Washington)
IM-WA-0006-9000 | IM-WA-0006-9001
Robinson, Michael Eugene (District of Columbia)
IM-WA-0006-0005 | IM-WA-0006-9001
Unumb, Lorri Shealy (District of Columbia)
IM-WA-0006-0001 | IM-WA-0006-9000
Wilson, Earle B. (District of Columbia)
IM-WA-0006-9000

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