Vazquez-Mentado v. Buitron, et al.

Vazquez-Mentado v. Buitron, et al., 5:12­-cv-­00797 (N.D. N.Y., filed Nov. 6, 2012)

Mr. Gerardo Vazquez-Mentado, a naturalized U.S. citizen, filed this suit in federal district court in the Northern District of New York based on his unlawful arrest by Border Patrol agents. He brought a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act for false arrest and false imprisonment and a second claim under Bivens for violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.

On September 29, 2009, Mr. Vazquez, a resident of Oswego, New York, was driving into the city of Oswego. His wife and two children were with him in the family van. He was pulled over by Border Patrol agents who demanded his ID. He then presented his New York state driver’s license. After the agents accused him of being undocumented, Mr. Vazquez responded that he was a U.S. citizen. The Border Patrol agents ignored him, and instead placed him in handcuffs and transported him, with the help of the Oswego Police Department, to the Border Patrol station. He was released only after his wife returned to the station with his U.S. passport and Certificate of Naturalization, approximately 90 minutes after he was first stopped.

Mr. Vazquez first filed a complaint in federal court on May 14, 2002. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on September 28, 2012. Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on November 6, 2012. Defendants then filed a renewed motion to dismiss on December 7, 2012. After briefing by the parties, the federal court issued an order on May 28, 2013, denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss the FTCA claim as well as the Bivens claim as to the two arresting agents, and granting Mr. Vazquez leave to further amend the complaint to include additional allegations needed to maintain the Bivens claim against the supervising officer.

After subsequent filings, including a second amended complaint, a motion to dismiss by the supervisor officer, and summary judgment motions by the arresting officers, the parties entered into settlement negotiations which culminated in a settlement approved by the court on November 10, 2014.