Arlington, Va.—In a major triumph for property rights, a federal court in Massachusetts dismissed a civil forfeiture action against the Motel Caswell, a family-run motel in Tewksbury, handing a complete victory to owners Russell and Patricia Caswell.  In one of the most contentious civil forfeiture fights in the nation, Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts concluded, based on a week-long bench trial in November 2012, that the motel was not subject to forfeiture under federal law and that its owners were wholly innocent of any wrongdoing.

The Institute for Justice and local counsel Schlossberg, LLC, brought the case to trial to expose the injustices of civil forfeiture laws that allow law enforcement agencies to pad their budgets by taking property from innocent owners who have never been convicted or even charged with a crime.

Download the federal court ruling (pdf).