Ron DeSantis wants Martha’s Vineyard migrant lawsuit dismissed
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says the lawsuit against him and state officials and contractors over the so-called “migrant flights” to Martha’s Vineyard is nothing more than a “shotgun plea” and should be dismissed.
DeSantis, a Republican, had arranged for dozens of Venezuelan migrants to travel from Texas, where they entered the United States, to Martha’s Vineyard, a largely liberal island enclave in Massachusetts. According to plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit, a Texas woman named Perla Huerta lured the migrants into boarding the flights without telling them where they were going, promising items such as shoes, gift cards and free housing, as well as access to jobs and legal assistance during landing.
A nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of some migrants was filed days later by the Massachusetts advocacy group Alianza Americas, shortly after the Texas Bexar County Sheriff’s Office announced an investigation into the transportation. In addition to DeSantis, the lawsuit named Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Secretary Huerta, Jared W. Purdue, Florida Public Safety Czar Lawrence Keefe, DeSantis Chief of Staff James Uthmeier, and charter airline Vertol Systems as defendants .
in one request for dismissal DeSantis, filed Tuesday, says the complaint is a “shotgun plea,” a type of filing that judges have called “abusive” and “drafted to advance a political narrative” and a “waste of court resources.”
“Shotgun pleading is prohibited,” the filing states, arguing that the complaint does not specify when an individual is being sued in their official capacity and does not articulate whether plaintiffs are seeking “monetary or equitable” relief for each claim.
The filing also states that the case should have been filed in Florida.
“To the extent that there are allegations of wrongdoing by state defendants, the alleged acts all took place in Texas or Florida and not ‘in this Commonwealth,'” the filing reads (quotations omitted). “The alleged fraudulent statements were made in Texas, and the alleged discrimination is either the policy itself, which was instituted in Florida, or the selection of migrants, which took place in Texas […] Any ‘contact’ by state defendants with Massachusetts would have been the last step, not the first.”
The motion also states that continuing the case in Massachusetts would also relieve state officials of “official state duties” and create unnecessary costs for Florida taxpayers.
The motion states that the plaintiffs’ complaint does not qualify as a fraud claim.
“There is nothing illegal about voluntarily transporting migrants to other parts of the United States after they have been processed by federal authorities,” the motion states (quotations omitted). “States controlled by both major political parties do. As well as municipalities and private groups. In fact, just last week, DHS said these states, locations and private groups are all ‘key partners’ in DHS’s mission to ‘facilitate the onward travel of those conditionally released from DHS custody.’
The motion also states that state officials never spoke directly to the migrants and could not have deceived them. The facts supporting the plaintiffs’ allegations of fraud against the state are “virtually non-existent,” the motion said.
“There are no specific, inconclusive claims supporting this notion [DeSantis] ordered, orchestrated, engineered or participated in any scheme to deceive migrants into traveling to Massachusetts,” the filing said. “The amended complaint is at most little more than a factual statement that merely raises a suspicion of unlawful conduct.”
DeSantis argues that the plaintiffs have not presented credible evidence of conspiracy to engage in fraud, noting that they acknowledge that Florida’s “official consent to transport” forms “showed an intent to transport only willing migrants.”
“Nevertheless, the plaintiffs would lead the Court to believe that the Florida Legislature, the Governor, his staff, the Secretary and their contractors were instead covertly involved in a grand conspiracy to lie to migrants and get them to leave San Antonio.” , so the plea says.”
The motion says the plaintiffs knew where they were going – and that their complaint recognizes that.
“Perhaps most damningly, the plaintiffs’ allegations also show that Huerta told the plaintiffs where the planes were going. She told Jesus Doe that she could get him on a plane to Washington, Oregon or Massachusetts, and she told Yanet Doe “that they would probably fly to Washington, DC or some other ‘sanctuary state.'[.].’ And the consent forms signed by each migrant clearly state that they were transported to their “final destination” “Massachusetts.”
The motion also rejects the plaintiffs’ claims of discrimination.
“There are no plausible factual allegations that there was ever any plan or agreement to willfully discriminate against officers on the basis of race or national origin,” the dismissal motion states (quotations omitted). “There are also no plausible claims that officials knew the essential nature and general scope of a discrimination plan. And there are no plausible claims that officials were motivated by discriminatory animus rather than neutral purpose.”
The motion also states that the migrants’ emotional distress claims are not legally tenable.
“[T]The type of emotions allegedly suffered – e.g. Emotions such as fear, anguish, agitation, confusion, lack of sleep — are emotions endured by ordinary people,” the motion reads (quotations omitted), adding later, “Plaintiffs make an implausible allegation of ongoing severe distress. and the duration of the distress they allegedly felt – one week – reinforces that it is not severe enough to be sued.”
Huerta, the contractor, submitted separate notice of termination the allegations against her, calling the complaint “a political polemic dressed up as a legal document”.
“The plaintiffs’ primary complaint is that they landed in Martha’s Vineyard, not a ‘town’, and that their flight was used by a politician they disagree with,” Huertas’ filing also reads, noting that the plaintiffs “never allege that they were not provided with housing, work and legal counsel. “Dislike of a politician and free food, hotel rooms and transportation are unusual facts on which to base claims of constitutional deprivation.”
Huerta’s motion to dismiss also argues that the Massachusetts federal court does not have jurisdiction over her because she recently lived in Florida and worked in San Antonio, Texas. She argues that she could not have denied migrants their constitutional rights because she is “clearly a private party, not a government official.”
Huerta’s request also seems to imply that even if she wasn’t honest with the migrants about where they were going, it didn’t matter.
“Individual plaintiffs agreed to go despite not knowing their exact destination — conclusively demonstrating that the ultimate destination was immaterial to them and they did not rely on alleged accounts of their destination,” Huerta’s motion to dismiss states.
Vertol Systems, a Florida-based charter airline, also filed its lawsuit request for dismissalwhich echoes many of Huerta’s arguments.
The defendants jointly raised a separate motion to move the case to Floridaand said the lawsuit “should have been filed in the Sunshine State from the start.”
“That is because the Northern District of Florida is where ‘a substantial portion of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim took place,'” reads the jurisdiction’s motion (quotations omitted). “The plaintiffs challenged a Florida law passed by the Florida Legislature and signed by Florida Governor Ronald DeSantis, who is a defendant […] All of the alleged conduct by a majority of the defendants occurred solely in the Northern District of Florida[.]”
Attorneys for Alianza Americas said DeSantis’ connection to Massachusetts was clear.
“The bottom line is that Governor DeSantis doesn’t want to be dragged into a Massachusetts court, but he certainly dragged distressed migrants to Martha’s Vineyard with no compunction,” Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, told Law&Crime in one E-mail. “Governor DeSantis essentially pretends that Perla Huerta, a former spy, was wandering around alone making plans. But she wasn’t alone.”
Espinoza-Madrigal says the plaintiffs’ attorneys do not expect the defendants’ legal arguments to stand up.
“It’s not surprising that Gov. DeSantis and his co-defendants are throwing every procedural argument they can think of in a desperate attempt to avoid the music for this callous political stunt,” he said in the email. “As set forth in our lawsuit, the defendants hatched and executed a shameful plan to trick vulnerable Latinx immigrants in Texas into boarding privately chartered flights by promising false promises of jobs, housing and immigration assistance. We are confident in our case and look forward to the trial. Using humans as political props is both morally repugnant and illegal. We will see Governor DeSantis and his co-defendants in court.”
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https://lawandcrime.com/lawsuit/ron-desantis-tries-to-dismiss-lawsuit-by-venezuelan-migrants-sent-to-marthas-vineyard-calls-complaint-a-shotgun-pleading/ Ron DeSantis wants Martha’s Vineyard migrant lawsuit dismissed