Case: Argueta v. Myers

3:08-cv-01652 | U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

Filed Date: April 3, 2008

Closed Date: 2012

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On April 3, 2008, twelve individual plaintiffs filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. Represented by private counsel and attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights, the plaintiffs sued U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") and officers of the Penns Grove, N.J., Police Department, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the New Jersey Constitution. On May 22, 2008, the plaintiffs amended their complaint. The plaintiffs sought compensatory and punitiv…

On April 3, 2008, twelve individual plaintiffs filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. Represented by private counsel and attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights, the plaintiffs sued U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") and officers of the Penns Grove, N.J., Police Department, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the New Jersey Constitution. On May 22, 2008, the plaintiffs amended their complaint. The plaintiffs sought compensatory and punitive damages, injunctive relief, and attorneys' fees and costs.

In the amended complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants violated their Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights in the course of committing unlawful entries and dragnet searches of homes “in which the agents only loosely suspect immigrant families may reside.” The plaintiffs further argued that the defendants “detained the occupants without judicial warrant or other legal justification.” The defendants' conduct was allegedly part of an enforcement effort called "Operation Return to Sender," designed to apprehend persons subject to outstanding deportation orders whom ICE regarded as "fugitives." In addition to claims based upon Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure and the use of excessive force, the plaintiffs cited the Fifth Amendment's due process clause as a basis for their allegations that the defendants violated the plaintiffs' rights to be free from abusive governmental conduct that shocks the conscience, from prevention of consultation with counsel regarding immigration proceedings, and from denial of equal protection of the laws based upon race and ethnicity. According to the plaintiffs, much of the illegal conduct followed agency imposition of increased arrest quotas on understaffed and ill-trained ICE Fugitive Operations Teams. The Teams subsequently conducted fugitive searches as pretext to arrest undocumented immigrants and relied upon outdated, inaccurate, and incomplete information in ICE databases. Eight of the plaintiffs were named, while four remained anonymous due to fear of retaliation. The plaintiffs include U.S. citizens and lawful residents.

On the same date as the filing of their amended complaint, the plaintiffs sought preliminary and permanent injunctions. The defendants filed two motions to dismiss on June 26, 2008 and July 8, 2008. The Court partially granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the request for preliminary injunction without prejudice, but denied the motion to dismiss the request for permanent injunction on September 8, 2008. On May 7, 2009, the court issued a subsequent order on this motion, denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss, except with regard to the claims asserted by the anonymous plaintiffs. The court argued that they could amend the complaint to include their identity as they had demonstrated why the need for anonymity outweighed the need for fairness. 2009 WL 1307236.

The plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint identifying one of the anonymous plaintiffs on June 8, 2009, which the individual federal defendants moved to dismiss on June 18 on the basis of qualified immunity. The Court denied the motion on January 27, 2010, arguing that the defendants’ conduct plausibly could have violated a clearly established constitutional right of which they were aware existed. In short, the defendants failed to meet the test for qualified immunity. 2010 WL 398839.

Defendants who were higher-ranking ICE officers (rather than the ones carrying out the raids) appealed both of these orders.

While the case was pending in the Third Circuit, the plaintiffs filed their third amended complaint in the district court on April 16, 2010. In response, three of the defendants, who were municipal officers, sought to dismiss the claims against them on June 24 and July 27, 2010. The court granted the motions on Nov. 29, 2010. Meanwhile, on Aug. 9, 2010, the defendants moved to dismiss the complaint. On Feb. 3, 2011, the court dismissed plaintiff Guzman’s substantive due process claim, but sustained her subject matter jurisdiction claim (stating that the Fifth amendment claim should be dismissed because the facts stated were properly already used under the Fourth amendment claim).

On June 14, 2011, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s order from Jan. 27, 2010 denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss and remanded it for further proceedings. The Third Circuit concluded that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction, but reversed the district court's denial of qualified immunity. The Third Circuit argued that the ICE officers “specifically charged with enforcing federal immigration law” occupied relatively high-ranking positions and acted lawfully by increasing arrest goals. Indeed, “qualified immunity doctrine exists to encourage vigorous and unflinching enforcement of the law.” 643 F.3d 60.

On September 21, 2012, the Court dismissed the case with prejudice on the grounds that the plaintiffs and the ICE Agent defendants “amicably resolved the matter.” The plaintiffs were awarded $295,000 as part of the settlement. The settlement agreement does not appear to be publicly available at this time. The case was left open for 90 days, but as the plaintiffs did not motion to re-open the case, the matter is now closed.

Summary Authors

Mike Fagan (7/2/2008)

Allison Hight (3/19/2016)

Gloria Han (6/15/2017)

Virginia Weeks (11/20/2017)

Related Cases

Aguilar v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, District of Massachusetts (2007)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5749555/parties/argueta-v-myers/


Judge(s)

Arpert, Douglas E (New Jersey)

Cowen, Robert E. (New Jersey)

Fisher, D. Michael (Pennsylvania)

Jordan, Kent A. (Delaware)

Salas, Esther (New Jersey)

Sheridan, Peter G. (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Azmy, Baher (New York)

Catalina, Frank T.M. (New Jersey)

Farbenblum, Bassina (New Jersey)

Hiorth, Megan E. (New Jersey)

Judge(s)

Arpert, Douglas E (New Jersey)

Cowen, Robert E. (New Jersey)

Fisher, D. Michael (Pennsylvania)

Jordan, Kent A. (Delaware)

Salas, Esther (New Jersey)

Sheridan, Peter G. (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Azmy, Baher (New York)

Catalina, Frank T.M. (New Jersey)

Farbenblum, Bassina (New Jersey)

Hiorth, Megan E. (New Jersey)

Kraner, Natalie Janet (New Jersey)

Lambert, Reynold (New Jersey)

Michelman, Scott (New Jersey)

Noferi, Mark (New Jersey)

Parrilla, Aurora Francesca (New Jersey)

Prairie, Nicole Rogers (District of Columbia)

Reiner, David Marshall (New Jersey)

Tully, L. Danielle (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Bishop, Heather (New Jersey)

Carlson, Jesi J. (District of Columbia)

Gelfand, Todd J. (New Jersey)

Hollis, Christopher W. (District of Columbia)

Juncaj, Gjon (District of Columbia)

Katsas, Gregory George (District of Columbia)

Keiper, Melanie Suzanne (District of Columbia)

Kline, David J. (District of Columbia)

Martin, Edward J. (District of Columbia)

Richardson, Allan E. (New Jersey)

Richter, Zachary Carl (District of Columbia)

Thompson, Richard Scott (Georgia)

Walker, Scott L (New Jersey)

Whitman, Sarah Elisabeth (District of Columbia)

Other Attorney(s)

Banks, Steven (New York)

Boston, John (New York)

Fishman, Paul (New Jersey)

Herwig, Barbara L. (District of Columbia)

Love, Angus R. (Pennsylvania)

Prestel, Claire (District of Columbia)

Reinert, Alexander A. (New York)

Scher, Howard S. (District of Columbia)

Weiss, Catherine (New Jersey)

West, Tony (District of Columbia)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Zimmerman, Kenneth H. (New Jersey)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Nov. 13, 2012 Docket
1

Complaint and Jury Demanded

April 3, 2008 Complaint
16-4

Memorandum of Law in Support of Order to Show Cause

May 22, 2008 Pleading / Motion / Brief
15

First Amended Complaint

May 22, 2008 Complaint
34

Motion to Dismiss, Memorandum in Support of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, and Certificate of Service

June 26, 2008 Pleading / Motion / Brief
94

Opinion

Argueta v. United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement

2009 WL 1307236

May 7, 2009 Order/Opinion
135

Opinion II

Argueta v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Jan. 27, 2010 Order/Opinion
162

Third Amended Complaint

Argueta et al. v. ICE et al.

April 16, 2010 Complaint
173

Consent Order on Service of Summons and Third Amended Complaint

Argueta v. United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement

June 2, 2010 Order/Opinion
003110306015

Brief for the Appellants

Argueta v. United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Oct. 6, 2010 Pleading / Motion / Brief

Resources

Title Description External URL

Argueta, et al. v. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, et al.

Center for Constitutional Rights

Nine individual plaintiffs brought this action against federal and local law enforcement officials, pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unkown Agents Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) and 42 U.S… Dec. 17, 2012 https://ccrjustice.org/home/what-we-do/our-cases/argueta-et-al-v-immigration-and-customs-enforcement-et-al

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5749555/argueta-v-myers/

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
68

Order granting plaintiffs seven pages in the sur-reply papers. (dh, )

Oct. 15, 2008 RECAP
94

OPINION. Signed by Judge Peter G. Sheridan on 5/6/09. (dc, )

May 7, 2009 RECAP
100

ORDER stating that any party seeking to file a motion for reconsideration of the Court's May 6, 2009 order and opinion must do so on or before 6/2/09. Signed by Judge Peter G. Sheridan on 5/21/09. (cs, )

May 21, 2009 RECAP
134

LETTER ORDER Ordered that, the parties will prepare and file a joint submission outlining any and all pending discovery disputes, etc., Signed by Magistrate Judge Esther Salas on 1/15/10. (dc, )

Jan. 15, 2010 RECAP
135

OPINION. Signed by Judge Peter G. Sheridan on 1/27/10. (dc, )

Jan. 27, 2010 RECAP

State / Territory: New Jersey

Case Type(s):

Immigration and/or the Border

Key Dates

Filing Date: April 3, 2008

Closing Date: 2012

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Individuals subjected to ICE raids and searches as part of “Operation Return to Sender”

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)

Public Justice

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Federal

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Ex Parte Young (Federal) or Bivens

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Equal Protection

Unreasonable search and seizure

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Mixed

Nature of Relief:

Damages

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Voluntary Dismissal

Amount Defendant Pays: 295,000

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief denied

Issues

General:

Classification / placement

Excessive force

False arrest

Loss or damage to property

Over/Unlawful Detention

Placement in detention facilities

Racial profiling

Search policies

Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)

Discrimination-basis:

Immigration status

National origin discrimination

Language:

Spanish

Type of Facility:

Government-run

Immigration/Border:

Constitutional rights

Deportation - procedure

Detention - procedures

ICE/DHS/INS raid

Status/Classification

Undocumented immigrants - rights and duties

Undocumented immigrants - state and local regulation

National Origin/Ethnicity:

Hispanic

Other