two cases will be filed Proceed against the federal government over the FBI’s warrantless search of hundreds of safe deposit boxes, a court ruled this week. Last year, in a related case, a federal appellate judge called The FBI raid is “serious” and “outrageous”.

“This case is another chapter in the long legal saga of the FBI’s criminal investigation of American private vaults,” wrote Federal Judge Robert Klausner of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California rejected the government’s motion to dismiss in his ruling Thursday.

In March 2021, the FBI raided the Beverly Hills safe deposit box company US Private Vaults, and federal agents seized and searched all of its customers’ deposit boxes. According to court filings, the boxes contained millions of dollars in cash, as well as jewelry, personal belongings and documents such as wills and prenuptial agreements.

The FBI had a warrant for the raid and to seize customers’ boxes, but that warrant did not explicitly authorize any “criminal search or seizure” of the actual contents of the boxes. The warrant application also contains key details of the raid plan, including how the special agent in charge instructed other agents to open each box, preserve fingerprint evidence, inventory the contents, and sniff out all the cash with drug dogs. Gave instructions. Some former US Private Vaults customers say their assets were never returned, prompting some claims in lawsuits.

“We’re pleased to be able to move forward in the discovery and to be able to get answers from the government for what was basically missing property,” said Joseph Gay, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, a liberal non-profit representing several people. For-profit institutions former US private vault customers.

In January, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals compared unanimously The FBI’s crackdown on British colonial-era “writs of assistance” – the kind of overreach that led to the American Revolution and, subsequently, the Bill of Rights. “After all, it was this abuse of power that led to the adoption of the Fourth Amendment in the first place,” 9th Circuit Government,

Jenny Pearson and Michael Stork, a married couple, in a suit Claim The FBI seized $2,000 in cash and $20,000 worth of silver during the raid, but the cash was never returned. In another lawsuit, Donald Meline, a retiree, the allegation is The FBI seized 110 gold coins but never returned 63 of them, whose total value was more than $100,000.

In nearly identical rulings this week, Judge Klausner determined that both lawsuits can proceed against the federal government, although he dismissed all claims against the FBI special agent who led the US private vaults raid and the unfulfilled warrants. Drafted the affidavit. Klausner also rejected some, but not all, of the plaintiffs’ claims against the government. (The federal prosecutor’s office in the cases declined to comment.)

Gay, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said these decisions in related federal cases – in the 9th Circuit and in district court – complement each other.

“The first case shows that the government should not have opened the safe deposit boxes in the first place,” Gay said. “This case shows that, once that was done, they had an obligation to keep the property safe.”

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