Veterans May Soon Be Able to Sue Nevada Public Officials for Violating the State Constitution
By TheNevadaGlobeStaff, December 30, 2022 12:57 am
NEVADA – The Nevada Supreme Court has held that government officials can be sued for monetary damages for violating state constitutional rights.
The court’s judgment will allow military veteran Stephen Lara’s lawsuit against the Nevada Highway Patrol for stealing his life savings to proceed.
In this case, the Marine Corps veteran’s life savings were stolen during a traffic stop in February 2021. According to the lawsuit, officers questioned Lara and collected $87,000 in cash from him without detaining or charging him with a crime.
After he filed the complaint, his money was returned to him, and he is now suing for monetary damages.
State counsel claimed that nothing in Nevada law explicitly authorized litigation like Lara’s, but the court unanimously concluded that “we merely recognize the long-standing legal concept that a right does not, as a practical matter, exist without a remedy for its enforcement.”
“After more than a year on pause, the wheels of justice for Stephen Lara may finally turn,” Institute for Justice Attorney Ben Field said. “Today’s ruling will have an immediate local and national impact.”
“Nationally speaking, this decision not only strikes a blow against civil forfeiture—the method that permits the government to take property without charging anyone with a crime—it also rejects the judge-made disaster that is qualified immunity. “As we suggested, the Nevada Supreme Court holds that regular people like Stephen can claim for damages when police or prosecutors go over the line and violate the state constitution’s most basic safeguards,” he stated.
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