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Anthony Ostlund obtains decisive victory for class of plaintiffs illegally detained by county sheriff

February 10, 2020

Anthony Ostlund Shareholder Norman Pentelovitch, along with co-counsel the ACLU of Minnesota obtained a decisive victory in a class-action lawsuit brought against Nobles County and Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening when the district court granted the Class Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, and entered permanent injunctive and mandamus relief barring Defendants from arresting and detaining individuals for civil immigration violations.

The case was brought in 2017 to stop Defendants’ unlawful practice of keeping immigrants in the county jail without legal authority. The suit also sought damages for the Class Representatives for being falsely imprisoned.

The Court entered a temporary restraining order in late-2017, which the Defendants appealed. In a unanimous decision the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the restraining order, finding that there is no basis in Minnesota law for a state law enforcement officer to arrest or detain an individual for a civil immigration violation.

Now, in addition to granting summary judgment, the district court denied Defendants’ cross-motion for summary judgment. The court also found that Defendants were not entitled to any form of immunity because the Sheriff’s conduct was “willful and malicious,” and set a trial limited only to the damages owed to the Class Representatives for being falsely imprisoned.