A U.S. District Judge has just ruled that the government agency responsible for using a company’s truck in a botched drug sting that got a driver killed and caused $100,000 worth of damage to the truck won’t have to pay the company owner anything for their mistake.
All the way back in 2011, one of Craig Patty’s two trucks was in the shop for repairs, or so he thought. In fact, the Drug Enforcement Agency was using the truck and its driver to haul a load of marijuana north from the Rio Grande Valley as part of a sting operation targeting the Los Zetas cartel.
Unfortunately, as the truck passed Houston, it was ambushed by cartel members and despite the fact that he was being shadowed by two dozen federal agents and local police, the driver was killed when the truck was shot full of bullets.
After the incident, the truck was ruined and needed repairs. The insurance company refused to pay for it since it had been used in a criminal act (hauling the marijuana), and the DEA refused to pay for it simply because they didn’t have to.
Since 2011, Patty has been fighting to make the DEA pay him the money he feels he is owed. His is currently fighting for $133,532 in repairs and lost wages for the time the truck wasn’t able to be used, and $1.3 million in damages to himself and his family who have lived in fear of retaliation by the cartels since the incident.
Now a judge has ruled that the DEA doesn’t have to pay him back because it doesn’t have a rule against doing what it did. Despite the fact that the DEA wiped away the driver’s substantial criminal record so that he would be hired, despite the fact that they used the driver and equipment for illegal activities, despite the fact that they never asked permission or told the company owner anything about what was happening until after the incident, and despite the fact that a man died as a result of their botched operation, the DEA still hasn’t legally done anything wrong. So they don’t have to pay.
A lawyer for Patty sounded as incredulous as everyone else after the ruling saying;
“It is not just that you can’t sue the federal government, but that federal law enforcement agencies under this ruling can use anybody’s property to do anything they want to further their law enforcement mission and not have to go get the permission from the owner of the property to do it.”
He went on to comment that “This type of ruling, in our judgment, ignores the Constitution, ignores the privacy rights of individuals who are just trying to make a living, an honest living… Even if the district judge was right [applying the law], the law needs to change because this completely tramples what we believe the Constitution protects.”
From here, Patty plans to appeal the ruling in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. His attorneys will have a total of 20 minutes to plead his case. If he loses there, his last possible option will be a hearing in the U.S. Supreme Court.