Ortega, et al. v. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, No. 1:21-cv-11250-FDS (D. Mass, filed Aug. 2, 2021)
On August 2, 2021, the Boston College Civil Rights Clinic and Lawyers for Civil Rights filed a lawsuit against U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on behalf of Neisa Ortega and her 14-year-old daughter. On multiple occasions over the course of a year, Ms. Ortega and her daughter were separated for hours without explanation and Ms. Ortega subjected to repeated invasive body searches and sexual violations at the hands of CBP officers while travelling through Logan Airport in Boston.
The complaint alleges that CBP subjected Ms. Ortega to illegal and unconstitutional treatment upon her returns from family visits to the Dominican Republic. Beginning in April 2019, CBP officers assaulted, degraded, and humiliated Ms. Ortega on three separate occasions through invasive body cavity searches that contravened CBP’s internal guidelines prohibiting officers from conducting vaginal cavity searches. During these body cavity searches, CBP officers separated Ms. Ortega from her daughter for hours, during which time neither was given information as to the other’s whereabouts. Ms. Ortega and her daughter have been traumatized by their separation from each other, and Ms. Ortega still lives with the trauma of being physically abused and sexually violated.
On November 5, 2020, Ms. Ortega filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL); CRCL summarily closed the complaint on March 30, 2021. On January 19, 2021, Ms. Ortega filed an administrative claim with CBP on behalf of herself and her daughter under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA); CBP likewise denied the claim in full on June 17, 2021. Having exhausted administrative remedies under the FTCA, Ms. Ortega filed this lawsuit claiming Fourth and Fifth Amendment violations and seeking injunctive and declaratory relief, as well as compensatory relief pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) and the FTCA.
On October 15, 2021, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim, along with their answer to the complaint, claiming the United States has not waived sovereign immunity to the claims set for by Plaintiffs. On July 14, 2022, the court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss in part. On July 15, 2022, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, which the institutional Defendants answered on August 3, 2022. On September 19, 2022, the individual defendants moved to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to state a claim.
- Defendants’ Partial Motion to Dismiss
- Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss
- Defendants’ Answer to Plaintiffs’ Complaint
- Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants’ Partial Motion to Dismiss
- Order on Motion to Dismiss
- Amended Complaint
- Answer to Amended Complaint
- Individual Defendants’ Memo ISO Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint
- Response to Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint
Counsel: Boston College Civil Rights Clinic; Lawyers for Civil Rights
Contact: Arielle Sharma, Lawyers for Civil Rights | email@example.com; Reena Parikh, Boston College Civil Rights Clinic | firstname.lastname@example.org