Martinez-Castro, et al. v. Village of Wakeman, et al.
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Western Division (N.D. Ohio; 3:12-cv-2364)
In 2012, ABLE filed a federal court complaint on behalf of two Hispanic married couples from Norwalk, Ohio. The married couples, traveling in the same car and returning from work at a local nursery, were stopped by the Wakeman Police Department early one morning. Without reasonable suspicion or cause, the Wakeman police officer contacted the U.S. Border Patrol. When Border Patrol agents arrived at the scene, they proceeded to interrogate and verbally harass the occupants of the car. The individuals were aggressively removed from the car, handcuffed and taken to the Sandusky Bay Station. At the station, the individuals were then placed in a room where they were harassed and interrogated by ten to twelve different agents over the course of the day.
The complaint filed against the Village of Wakeman and the U.S. Border Patrol alleges claims under the Fourth Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, Bivens claims against the individual Border Patrol agents and claims pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act. The complaint alleges that the U.S. Border Patrol and the Wakeman Police Department have engaged in illegal profiling of Hispanics and seeks injunctive relief to prohibit the use of race as a motivating factor in stops and detentions.
Following extensive discovery, the court declined to dismiss all but one of Plaintiffs’ claims, finding that they stated a claim for relief and also that they satisfied the pleading standard set out in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678–89 (2009). Subsequently, the parties entered into settlement discussions and reached a resolution of the case in early 2014 in which each of the plaintiffs received $7,000.00 plus an additional amount in attorneys fees.