Doe v. El Paso County Hospital District, et al.

Doe v. El Paso County Hospital District, et al., No. 3:13-cv-00406  (W.D. Tex., filed Dec. 18, 2013)

Jane Doe sued several CBP officers in their individual capacity (as well as medical personnel and a hospital) after being subjected to six hours of increasingly invasive searches of her body in violation of the United States Constitution.  She seeks both compensatory and punitive damages.

Jane Doe is a 54-year-old United States citizen who, when returning from a visit to Mexico and after having her valid passport swiped, was randomly picked by CBP officers for additional screening.  She was sent to secondary inspection and frisked by two female officers, one of whom put her finger in the crevice of Ms. Doe’s buttocks.  Although no contraband was found, she was placed in a line with others, where a dog allegedly alerted CBP officers that she possessed contraband.  She was not carrying any contraband, however, and thus the alert was either a false one or did not occur.  Thereafter, she was strip-searched by CBP officers and examined with a flashlight.  When this revealed no contraband, the defendant CBP officers transported her in handcuffs to the hospital, where she was forced to take a laxative and monitored while having a bowel movement.  Despite no evidence of contraband, she was then subjected to an x-ray, a physical examination of her vagina and rectum, and a C-T scan.  After each of these exams, defendants insisted on proceeding to the next, more invasive exam despite the fact that none of them produced any evidence.  After the C-T scan, Ms. Doe was informed that she could sign a statement indicating voluntary consent to the searches, in which case CBP would pay the hospital bill; if she refused to sign the consent form, she was told she would be billed for the hospital’s expenses.  She refused to sign and subsequently was billed $5,000.

On December 18, 2013, Ms. Doe filed a complaint against various CBP officers alleging constitutional violations for unreasonable seizure, false arrest, false imprisonment, unreasonable search, and deprivation of due process under Bivens. Her complaint also asserted multiple §1983 claims against the medical facilities and staff involved. The claims against the medical staff and facilities were subsequently settled for $1.1 million. The case against CBP continues.

In July 2015, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint, which the CBP Defendants answered in November 2015.  On June 14, 2016, the District Court accepted the parties’ stipulation of dismissal.  On July 21, 2016, the ACLU announced that CBP had agreed to pay Plaintiff $475,000.

Counsel: Edgar Saldivar, Rebecca Robertson | ACLU of Texas

Laura Schauer Ives, Kristen Love, Jesse Hale | ACLU of New Mexico

Contact: Edgar Saldivar | ACLU of Texas |

Laura Schauer Ives | Kennedy Kennedy & Ives, LLC |