Farella Braun + Martel, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Prevail with a $65,000 Settlement for Once Deported African Woman
San Francisco (April 24, 2006) – After almost two years in court, the United States has agreed to pay $65,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a young African woman who was abused by U.S. immigration agents at San Francisco International Airport. The settlement was filed Apr. 12 at the federal courthouse in San Francisco, thanks to Tony Schoenberg, a partner at Farella Braun + Martel who represented the plaintiff pro bono in conjunction with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.
In 2002, Tsungai Tungwarara, then 18 years old, flew from Zimbabwe to San Francisco to visit her family in the Bay Area. Despite having a valid tourist visa, Tungwarara was jailed by airport immigration agents and subjected to a strip search. Tungwarara was taken to a local jail facility in violation of a Sept. 29, 2000 Department of Justice policy memorandum, which declares that jail is “not appropriate in non-criminal cases.” When Tungwarara’s mother tried to intervene, an immigration inspector told her, “We won’t allow these people here – not after September 11th. Go back to the jungle.” The next day, immigration agents forced Tungwarara to return to Zimbabwe.
In her defense, Farella Braun + Martel and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights filed suit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco in June 2004. In October, the federal district court issued a precedent-setting decision in the case, ruling that the strip search was unconstitutional. The case was scheduled for trial in April 2006, but the federal government agreed to settle.
“What happened to my client was a great injustice. I am pleased that we were able to reach a settlement that will provide her with compensation for the terrible ordeal she went through,” said Schoenberg.
About Farella Braun + Martel LLP
Since its founding in 1962, Farella Braun + Martel has achieved a national reputation for the acumen of its business practice, the high profile cases of its complex commercial litigation practice and its prestigious client base. Based in San Francisco, the firm serves a diverse group of clients from multinational corporations to emerging businesses. The firm also has an office in the Napa Valley focused on the wine industry and related businesses.
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