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Judge hands DeSantis legal win in lawsuit over Martha’s Vineyard migrant flights


Daily Caller News Foundation

A federal judge dismissed claims against Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis brought by attorneys representing migrants he flew to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, in 2022.

District Judge Allison Burroughs ruled Friday that migrants could sue the charter flight company, Vertol Systems, that contracted with Florida to transport migrants in September 2022. But Burroughs dismissed other claims brought against DeSantis and state defendants, finding the court lacked jurisdiction over them in the case while leaving the possibility of future legal action open.

“On the present record, the Court cannot ascertain what actions were undertaken by whom and therefore cannot determine which, if any, of the individual Defendants transacted business or caused injury here, leaving it no choice but to find that, at least on this record, personal jurisdiction has not been established,” the judge wrote in a 77-page ruling.

However, the judge wrote that the facts “support an inference that Vertol and the other Defendants specifically targeted Plaintiffs because they were Latinx immigrants.”

“The Court finds that, for purposes of a motion to dismiss, the allegations that Latinx individuals were (1) specifically targeted, (2) the only ones approached, and (3) the only ones on the Flight…allow for the inference that Vertol and the other Defendants invidiously discriminated against Plaintiffs because of their race,” Burroughs held.

She wrote that “no reasonable person should have to endure the anxiety that comes with being unwillingly inserted into a divisive national debate.”

Lawyers for Civil Rights Boston filed the class action lawsuit in September 2022 on behalf of the nearly 50 migrants transported from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard.

Julia Friedland, deputy press secretary for DeSantis, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the “flights were conducted lawfully and authorized by the Florida Legislature.”

““We look forward to Florida’s next illegal immigrant relocation flight, and we are glad to bring national attention to the crisis at the southern border,” he said.

Civil rights lawyers called the ruling a “major victory” in a statement.

“The favorable ruling is a major victory in the Martha’s Vineyard case, and it sends a crucial message: private companies can — and will — be held accountable for helping rogue state actors violate the rights of vulnerable immigrants through illegal and fraudulent schemes,” the group said.

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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation

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