Judge rules that charter flight company can be sued by migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard by DeSantis

A district court judge has ruled that the migrants who were flown to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in September 2022 can proceed with their case against charter flight company Vertol Systems Co. The ruling was made late last week.

A total of three counts have been dismissed against the Florida-based company in a Massachusetts district court. However, Vertol will still have to face the remaining eight counts. The judge made the decision to dismiss the state actors, including DeSantis, as defendants in this case, citing a lack of jurisdiction.

On September 14, 2022, a group of migrants were deceived with promises of improved housing, employment, and educational prospects and were subsequently transported on two flights from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard.

Republican governors, including DeSantis, have transported migrants by both air and bus to various locations such as Massachusetts, New York, and Chicago. Their intention behind this action is to demonstrate the consequences of what they perceive as lenient immigration policies in liberal areas.

Lawyers representing the migrants have filed a case, claiming various allegations such as violations of the Fourth and 14th amendments, civil rights violations, discrimination, false imprisonment, fraud/deceit, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy, and aiding and abetting.

According to Judge Allison D. Burroughs, the defendants were not genuinely enforcing immigration laws. Instead, they allegedly exploited the plaintiffs in a scheme to enhance the national profile of Defendant DeSantis and manipulate them for political purposes.

In addition, the plaintiffs’ pictures were taken and shared with the national news media. Unlike ICE agents who are genuinely enforcing immigration laws, the court finds no valid reason for rounding up individuals who are highly vulnerable under false pretenses and thrusting them into a divisive national discourse,” Burroughs elaborated further. “Treating vulnerable individuals like the plaintiffs in such a manner, as alleged and accepted as true for the purpose of the motion to dismiss, is undeniably excessive, shocking, uncivilized, intolerable, and astonishing.”

The judge also concluded that the migrants’ attorneys have adequately claimed that the migrants were specifically targeted due to their South American origin or their identification as Latinx, making them more suitable subjects for the defendants’ photo opportunity.

Vertol declined to provide a comment when contacted.

According to a spokesperson from DeSantis’s office, the flights were conducted lawfully and were authorized by the Florida Legislature. The statement also expressed anticipation for the next illegal immigrant relocation flight in Florida and highlighted the intention to draw national attention to the crisis at the southern border.

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MBS Staff
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