Kazazi et al. v. U.S. Customs and Border Protection et al., No. 1:18-MC-51 (N.D. Ohio, filed May 31, 2018)
This lawsuit challenges U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) unlawful seizure of Plaintiffs’ life savings. On October 24, 2017, while one of the Plaintiffs, Rustem Kazazi, a U.S. citizen, was in route to Albania, CBP seized the $58,100 that he was carrying to purchase a retirement home in Albania and assist family members in need. CBP neither arrested nor charged Mr. Kazazi or his family members with any crime. Later, CBP sought to justify the seizure by alleging that the money was involved in a smuggling/drug trafficking/money laundering operation—an unfounded allegation that CBP did not record when it confiscated the money nor one that CBP is willing to defend in court.
The Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 (CAFRA) requires the government to return seized property or begin civil forfeiture or criminal proceedings within 90 days of the government’s notice of the owner’s suit. CBP’s 90 days expired on April 17, 2018, and it did not fulfill any of the CAFRA requirements within that time period. As a result, CBP became legally obligated to return the property promptly to Plaintiffs. Given that CBP failed to do so, Plaintiffs filed suit on May 31, 2018.
After they did, CBP immediately capitulated and returned about 99% of the money it had seized. The parties later resolved their dispute concerning the additional $770 seized and filed a stipulated dismissal on November 19, 2018. On March 1, 2019, the court awarded $43,280.13 in attorneys’ fees and costs to Petitioners.
- Motion for Return of Property
- Respondents’ Opposition Brief
- Petitioners Reply to Respondents’ Opposition Brief
- Stipulated Dismissal
- Petitioners’ Motion for Attorney Fees
- Respondents’ Brief in Opposition to Petitioners’ Motion for Attorneys’ Fees
- Petitioners’ Reply to Respondents’ Opposition Brief
- Order granting Petitioners’ Motion for Attorneys’ Fees
Counsel: BakerHostetler LLP | Institute for Justice
Contact: Andrew H. Ward | Institute for Justice | firstname.lastname@example.org