On January 10, 1983 a group of individuals whose vehicles had been seized by federal agents pursuant to the INS Miami Sector Seizure Program because they had been used to transport undocumented aliens filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida to ...
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On January 10, 1983 a group of individuals whose vehicles had been seized by federal agents pursuant to the INS Miami Sector Seizure Program because they had been used to transport undocumented aliens filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida to challenge the forfeiture procedures of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. §1324. Plaintiff maintained that the seizures ran afoul of due process and equal protection in that vehicle owners were denied a prompt probable cause hearing before a neutral judicial officer. Moreover, vehicle owners were charged seizure related costs and were forced to sign indemnity agreements before their seized vehicles would be returned, even in cases where the government was not able to prove a violation of law. They requested injunctive relief to stop the seizure program.
The government sought dismissal of the case and summary judgment. Both defense motions were denied.
On May 25, 1984, the District Court (Judge William J. Castagna) certified the case as a class action. In 1986, the Court entered summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff class on its due process claim and granted injunctive relief. The Court's injunctive order prohibited the INS from seizing vehicles without warrants pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1324(b) unless the government provided a probable cause hearing within 72 hours. The Court also prohibited the government from charging costs related to seizure or impoundment of any vehicle that was not found to have been involved in a violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1324. Any such charges that were previously assessed were to be refunded. Gonzales v. Rivkind, 629 F.Supp. 236 (M.D. Fla. 1986). The government appealed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit (Judge Edmondson) reversed, finding no due process violation. The case was remanded for consideration of whether the seizure program violated equal protection. Gonzales v. Rivkind, 858 F.2d. 657. (11th Cir. 1988).
The PACER docket reflects that in February 1992, the District Court ordered the plaintiffs of their intent to pursue any remaining claims. It appears that the plaintiffs failed to respond to the Court's order and the case was closed. No further activity was noted.Brian Ponton - 08/22/2007