After a major victory on behalf of our client, who settled her claims against medical defendants for $1.1 million in 2014, we are excited to announce another landmark settlement against the remaining defendants. The U.S. government has paid our client $475,000 in damages for her ordeal. In addition, CBP has agreed to provide additional training to its agents on its personal search policy at the border. On the day we announced the settlement, we sent legal advisements to more than 100 hospitals in border communities warning that cavity searches should not be conducted without a warrant.

We brought the case in December 2013 on behalf of an anonymous plaintiff to challenge aggressive immigration enforcement tactics at and near the border. The complainant, a U.S. citizen, was traveling back from Mexico and found herself subjected to a series of increasingly invasive bodily searches that far exceed the bounds of the Fourth Amendment. Customs and Border Protection officers first detained her at the border, where she was subjected to an unusually invasive pat down, followed by a strip search. Finding nothing, agents then transported our client to the University Medical Center in El Paso, where they enlisted doctors to continue the search of her person. Over the course of several hours, she endured an observed bowel movement, vaginal and rectal exams, a speculum exam, an x-ray, and a CT scan. Only then did agents release her without charges. The hospital later billed our client for the procedures she underwent.

This settlement represents one of the largest settlements in a case against CBP agents arising out of civil rights violations. This is a victory not just for our clients, but also for the hundreds of individuals who travel through the El Paso Port of Entry on a daily basis and will now benefit from encounters with better trained CBP officers.

Date filed

December 15, 2013


W.D. Tex.



Case number

No. 3:13-cv-00406