A Sheriff in Southwestern Minnesota was illegally keeping immigrants in jail after state law required that they be released. The Sheriff had been sued for doing this before and agreed to stop, but ignored a settlement entered into before a federal court to continue the unlawful behavior.
Anthony Ostlund Approach
Anthony Ostlund partnered with the ACLU of Minnesota to bring a class-action lawsuit against the Sheriff and Nobles County on behalf of four immigrants who had been illegally detained, and all other similarly situated, potentially hundreds of additional people. The case included claims for violating the Minnesota Constitution, as well as for false imprisonment.
To immediately stop the illegal conduct Anthony Ostlund sought a temporary restraining order and injunction. Following oral argument, the district court granted the injunction, which was immediately appealed. Anthony Ostlund Shareholder Norman Pentelovitch argued before the Minnesota Court of Appeals that the district court correctly applied state and federal law in entering the injunction. The Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the district court, relying significantly on Norman’s arguments regarding the correct interpretation of Minnesota and federal law.
Anthony Ostlund then conducted discovery, obtaining key admissions from the Sheriff that he did not believe his conduct was constrained by any laws, and admissions from a variety of law enforcement officials that they had continued illegally detaining immigrants despite agreeing not to in federal court.
Following the close of discovery, both parties moved for summary judgment. The district court denied the Sheriff and County’s motion, and granted Anthony Ostlund’s motion in total, permanently enjoining the Sheriff and County from ever detaining immigrants without lawful authority again. The district court also found that the defendants acted willfully and maliciously and were not entitled to any immunity, which led Anthony Ostlund to request that the court allow a claim for punitive damages. The district court granted that request, and a trial regarding damages for false imprisonment and punitive damages will be held soon.