This case, filed on July 8, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, challenges the alleged unlawful detainment of Nathaniel Hicks, an on-duty Black Secret Service agent, by U.S. Park Police officers in violation of his constitutional rights. The complaint alleges that federal officers violated the Plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights by unlawfully seizing him, twice, on the morning of July 11, 2015, without probable cause or reasonable suspicion.  The Supreme Court first recognized such a cause of action in 1971, in Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics.

U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm denied Defendants’ summary judgment motion on the Plaintiff’s Bivens claim on June 10, 2019, finding that a trier of fact could conclude both that the officers’ behavior violated the Fourth Amendment and that these violations were clearly established, thus defeating qualified immunity at the summary judgment stage.

Defendants sought an interlocutory appeal. On July 14, 2020, a unanimous panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision and dismissed the appeal. In a published opinion, the court held that: (1) the officers may not argue that a lower court’s ruling constituted an improper extension of Bivens when they failed to make the argument below; (2) in any event, there was no fundamental miscarriage of justice; and (3) the court lacked jurisdiction to address the officers’ alternative arguments, all of which implicated the district court’s assessment of the factual record.

The matter is set for trial in the fall of 2020.

Case Caption

Hicks v. Ferreyra, No. 8:16-cv-2521 (D. Md.)

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