A man filed a lawsuit against Lane County in 2011 for an incident involving illegally towing his vehicle. The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Eugene, Oregon, alleges that the man pulled into a gas station parking lot when he was stopped by a sheriff's deputy. He was ticketed for not having insurance, driving on a suspended driver's license, and not having valid registration for the vehicle.
The man was going to the gas station to meet someone who was purchasing the vehicle. Despite the fact that the prospective buyer had a flatbed trailer and was going to tow the car from the lot, the vehicle was seized.
The county's attorney asserted that the sheriff's deputy believed that the man would illegally drive away from the gas station if it wasn't impounded. He also asserted that the car was uninsured, so the man driving it would have been a public safety issue.
A jury found that the vehicle was illegally seized without a warrant. The jury found that the man's constitutional rights were violated and issued a judgement against the county for $25,418. A spokeswoman for the county didn't want to comment on the jury's verdict because of the possibility of "continuing litigation."
This case serves as a reminder that people acting in an official capacity as law enforcement officials can sometimes act in a manner that violates people's rights. Anyone who has grounds to believe that their rights have been violated might have the right to seek compensation through civil litigation. Understanding how specific laws pertain to your case might help you determine how to proceed.
Source: The Register-Guard, "County ordered to pay $25,418" Jack Moran, Apr. 16, 2014