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
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 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 again...best 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
Clarification of Answer by
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
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.