Walden v. Fiore

134 S.Ct. 1115 (2014)


Walden (D) serves as a police officer in Georgia. As part of a DEA task force, D conducted investigative stops and other law enforcement functions in support of the DEA’s airport drug interdiction program. D searched Gina Fiore (P) and Keith Gipson and their carry-on bags at the San Juan airport in Puerto Rico. They found almost $97,000 in cash. P explained to DEA agents in San Juan that she and Gipson had been gambling at a casino known as the El San Juan, and that they had residences in both California and Nevada (though they provided only California identification). P boarded a plane for Atlanta, where they planned to catch a connecting flight to Las Vegas, Nevada. D and another DEA agent approached them at the departure gate for their flight to Las Vegas. P explained that she and Gipson were professional gamblers. P maintained that the cash they were carrying was their gambling “‘bank’” and winnings. After using a drug-sniffing dog to perform a sniff test, D seized the cash. D advised P that their funds would be returned if they later proved a legitimate source for the cash.  Ps then boarded their plane. D received a phone call from P's attorney in Nevada seeking return of the funds. On two occasions over the next month, D also received documentation from the attorney regarding the legitimacy of the funds. According to Ps, an affidavit to justify taking the funds was prepared by D. Ps claimed it false and misleading because D misrepresented the encounter at the airport and omitted exculpatory information regarding the lack of drug evidence and the legitimate source of the funds. No forfeiture complaint was filed, and the DEA returned the funds to Ps in March 2007. Ps sued D in Nevada, seeking money damages under Bivens for violation of their Fourth Amendment rights by seizing the cash without probable cause; keeping the money after concluding it did not come from drug-related activity; drafting and forwarding a probable cause affidavit to support a forfeiture action while knowing the affidavit contained false statements; willfully seeking forfeiture while withholding exculpatory information; and  withholding that exculpatory information from the United States Attorney’s Office. D's motion to dismiss was granted. The court concluded that even if D caused harm to Ps in Nevada while knowing they lived in Nevada, that fact alone did not confer jurisdiction. The Ninth Circuit reversed: The District Court could properly exercise jurisdiction over “the false probable cause affidavit aspect of the case.” D “expressly aimed” his submission of the allegedly false affidavit at Nevada by submitting the affidavit with knowledge that it would affect persons with a “significant connection” to Nevada. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.