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United States v. Alvarez-Machain

Court Type: U.S. Supreme Court
Status: Closed (Judgment)
Last Update: March 29, 2004

What's at Stake

Reviewing whether the United States can be held liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act for the actions of DEA officials in the United States who planned and supervised the forcible abduction of a Mexican citizen from his office in Mexico. DECIDED

In 1990, DEA officials in the United States planned and supervised the abduction of Dr. Humberto Alvarez-Machain from his medical office in Mexico so that he could stand trial in the United States for the murder of a DEA agent in Mexico. Dr. Alvarez-Machain was ultimately acquitted of those charges, and then brought suit against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The United States argues that the Federal Tort Claims Act does not apply to activities that take place in other countries. However, federal courts have consistently found an exception to that rule, including in this case, when the unlawful activity was directed by officials in the United States. The ACLU is serving as co-counsel for Alvarez-Machain.

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