NV Supreme Court Strikes A Blow Against Civil Forfeiture
Court has ruled that government officials can be sued for monetary damages over violations of rights in the state constitution
By Megan Barth, December 29, 2022 3:35 pm
In a ruling that is sure to have state and national implications, the Nevada Supreme Court has ruled that government officials can be sued for monetary damages over violations of rights in the state constitution.
The court’s decision will allow military veteran Stephen Lara’s lawsuit to move forward against the Nevada Highway Patrol for taking his life’s savings.
The case involves the Marine Corp veteran having his life savings seized from him in a February 2021 traffic stop. The suit alleged officers interrogated Lara and took $87,000 in cash from him without arresting him or charging him with a crime.
His savings were returned to him after he filed the lawsuit, and he is now filing to obtain monetary damages.
“The wheels of justice for Stephen Lara can finally move forward after being on hold for more than a year,” said Institute for Justice Attorney Ben Field. “Today’s decision will have an immediate impact both locally and nationally. Nationally speaking, this decision not only strikes a blow against civil forfeiture—the procedure that allows the government to take property without charging anyone with a crime—it also rejects the judge-made disaster that is qualified immunity. Like we urged, the Nevada Supreme Court holds that ordinary people like Stephen can sue for damages when police or prosecutors go over the line and violate the most basic guarantees in the state constitution.”