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Q: U.S. Constitution: Fourth Amendment Damages ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: U.S. Constitution: Fourth Amendment Damages
Category: Relationships and Society > Law
Asked by: mymybyebye-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 27 Apr 2006 06:56 PDT
Expires: 27 May 2006 06:56 PDT
Question ID: 723327
I desire to obtain detailed information related to current case law
and precedent regarding damages which may be allowed following an an
illegal fourth amendment seizure enacted by the government against a
citizen.  The response should assume that the seized person was
abducted and held by the government for about a day and has been
successful in court.  There is no crime or arrest. Citizen is
successful, affluent, professional, has large family and operates a
successful business in the community of seizure.

In particular, I require documentation following the logic of the U.S.
Supreme court in Albright [Albright v. Oliver (92-833), 510 U.S. 266
(1994)]. I am interested in case law and precendent beyond this
decision relating to the nature and/or amount of damages allowed for
or obtained  for among many issues,  damage to reputation, emotional
distress, humiliation, damage to business goodwill,  etc.

I would really like examples of some current cases.

Request for Question Clarification by weisstho-ga on 27 Apr 2006 07:23 PDT
GARs:  Appears that violations of the Civil Rights Act (specifically
section 1983) may be at issue.

Clarification of Question by mymybyebye-ga on 27 Apr 2006 08:17 PDT
Yes, this is correct. You could assume that there have been violations
of the Civil Rights Act (Section 1983).  My question though, is not
directly related to the violation of the civil rights, but rather,  to
damages, once a lawsuit has gone forward and been successful. In other
words, some might feel that the poor soul could only recover damages
of a day's pay. Yet,  the Supreme Court seems to suggest that often in
the case of illegal seizure by the government,  damage may occur
following the actual incident - damages related to mental anguish or
damage to one's livelihood for instance.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 27 Apr 2006 11:36 PDT

As you probably already know, there's plenty of case law on this
topic, but not much in the way of actual damages awarded.  In fact,
I've found only one recent case:
Lopez v The United States

which resulted in a Bivins-type settlement of $62,500 (Bivins being
the prevailing precedent on this topic).

I don't imagine the above link, alone, quite meets your needs.  

But I'm not sure how to proceed in the apparent absence of recent
cases with monetary damage awards.

Please look through the case at the above link and let me know what
you think the best way to move forward on this would be.



Clarification of Question by mymybyebye-ga on 27 Apr 2006 18:51 PDT
The Lopez case was interesting and quite helpful.  I had hoped to
obtain more citations along these lines.  An actual dollar amount is
not necessary.  I am also interested in the nature of the damages
sought or allowed (such as damage to reputation).  While the Lopez
case is relevant, it seems more to represent a deal to make the case
go away, rather than an actual response to specific damages.  I
appreciate your help.  If we can go no farther than this,  I am
willing to compensate you for your time.  I was desiring more detail
though.  Possibly more time is needed.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 27 Apr 2006 19:28 PDT

Thanks for the feedback.  I'll continue looking, and let you know what
else I can come up with.  Like I said, I didn't see any other damage
cases of recent vintage, but there certainly are quite a few cases
that deal with the topic of fourth amendment rights and
damages...though to tell the truth, most of the cases I saw were ones
where the courts were limiting the planitiff's ability to collect

Again, I'll see what I can find and get back to you in a day or so.


Clarification of Question by mymybyebye-ga on 27 Apr 2006 19:47 PDT
Thanks I appreciate your care and concern.  See what you can do.  I
think that it is possible that post-Miranda, government agents
probably are being quite careful to limit their exposure to such
Subject: Re: U.S. Constitution: Fourth Amendment Damages
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 28 Apr 2006 08:09 PDT

Thanks for your patience on this.  As promised, I had a good look around.

I have found only one additional case that entailed actual monetary
damages for Fourth Amendment violations, but the case is sufficiently
detailed as to hopefully be of considerable use to you.

In 1990, two Earth First activists were badly injured from a car-bomb
explosion.  The activists were arrested upon suspicion that they were
planning to use the bomb themselves, but they denied this, and were
never convicted as bomb-makers.

The activists sued both federal and local law enforcement authorities
for numerous rights violations.  More than a decade later -- and after
innumerable court proceedings -- a jury awarded them several million
dollars in damages.

You can read about the case and the awards here:


Jury Awards $4.4 Million Damages to Bari and Cherney 

...In a stunning vindication for Earth First! organizers Judi Bari and
Darryl Cherney, a Bay Area jury awarded the pair $4.4 million in
damages from three FBI agents and three Oakland police
officers....Eighty percent of the damages were for violation of free
speech rights under the First Amendment, validating Bari and Cherney's
longstanding claim that they were targeted for false charges because
of their political activism for the redwoods. The balance of the
damages were for the Fourth Amendment violations of false arrest and
unlawful search.

As you can see, the bulk of the award stemmed from First Amendment
violations, although the jury also included an award for Fourth
Amendment violations as well.

The details of the award can be found here:
Tables of Damages Awarded in Bari vs. FBI on June 11, 2002  

You can see the details of the Fourth Amend. damages, which are broken
out by compensatory and punitive damages, as well as by false arrest
vs. unlawful search damages.

Total Fourth Amend. damage awards amounted to $875,000...considerably
more than in the Lopez settlement that I cited earlier.

The above site also contains a great many legal documents -- filings,
briefs, judgements, etc -- that were presented or created during these
cases.  As a starting point, you can view some of the documents here:`legal_index.html
Legal Documents in Judi Bari vs. FBI & OPD

If these are of interest to you, though, you really should explore the
entire site, as there is a wealth of detail available here.

The case law that explicitly recognized the right of a defendant to
sue for damages stemming from Fourth Amendment violations is a
well-known case, Bivens v Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents.

You can read the background on Bivens here:
Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents

and should you want to see the actual case itself, you can read it here:
Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents 
United States Supreme Court, 1971

Oddly, I found no mention anywhere of actual damages that Bivens may
have received...possibly the damages were settled out of court, and
the amounts involved not made public.

I trust this information fully answers your question.

However, please don't rate this answer until you have everything you
need.  If there's anything more I can do for you, just post a Request
for Clarification, and I'm happy to assist you further.

And of luck.  These are trying times, and protecting
individual rights is a most important mission.


search strategy -- Google and law-database searches on:

fourth amendment (damages OR remedy)

"Bivens v six"

Bari Cherney million

Request for Answer Clarification by mymybyebye-ga on 28 Apr 2006 19:38 PDT
I appreciate your time and effort.  I am in the process of reviewing
the documents and links. (It's been a long day!)   Until then,  you
may wish to check out the sixth circuit's appellate decision in
Baranski v United States (although the title is much longer than

The link is:

The meat of the issue is toward the end, on my screen about page
13-14.  The court evaluates what these fellows can and cannot seek
related to damages.  Here,  guns were seized rather than a life.

Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 28 Apr 2006 20:02 PDT
Baranski's a messy one, though it certainly does address important
Fourth Amendment issues.

To tell you the truth, I had seen Baranski in my searching, but didn't
consider it, since it didn't involve an instance where "...the seized
person was abducted and held by the government...".  This seemed so
central to your question, that I focused my efforts on the seizure of
people, rather than property.

Nevertheless, I'd be happy to look into this some more, if you feel it
is warranted.  Take a look at the materials I found, and then get back
to me and let me know what you think makes the most sense at this


Request for Answer Clarification by mymybyebye-ga on 29 Apr 2006 10:04 PDT
You handled the question very appropriately.  I felt that there could
have been more cases related to the actual seizure of a person.

If you feel it is appropriate,  can you expand our search to include
for instance,  any type of illegal fourth amendment seizure,  where
the plaintiff in a lawsuit has been able to (or allowed to) collect
for damages in addition to the damages of the actual seizure itself -
such as damage to business goodwill, damage to reputation or mental
anguish as in Baranski?

In other words,  following Baranski as a guideline,  defendant's
counsel might argue that Baranski might only be able to collect
damages related to a day'spay or the cost of a machine gun,  but in
contrast,  the courts seem to say he can also collect for mental
anguish and loss of reputation and so forth.  We'd like to see a few
more cases like this to see what the courts may allow.  A dollar
amount is not that important, not as important for instance, as the

I can either increase the amount of payment, or provide a tip if you
feel it is appropriate.  Let me know and feel free to be open with me.
 I think we are going in the right direction.

Thanks again for your patience.
There are no comments at this time.

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