April 27, 2021
A team from Cadwalader’s White Collar Defense & Investigations Group in Washington, D.C. secured a full victory for its client in federal appellate court on Monday. Led by partner Doug Gansler, the team represented a now-retired special agent from the Department of Health & Human Services Office of the Inspector General. The client faced civil claims alleging that he violated a pharmacy owner’s constitutional rights during a white collar criminal investigation. The plaintiff’s cause of action rested on the Bivens doctrine, which is a private right of action created by the Supreme Court in 1971. Plaintiffs in Bivens claims can seek damages from federal officials for constitutional torts. The Department of Justice retained Cadwalader to represent the special agent.
In 2019, the Cadwalader team successfully moved the United States District Court for the District of Maryland to dismiss the claims against its client. The plaintiff appealed, and Cadwalader represented the client before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The team submitted several rounds of briefing, and associate Wesley Wintermyer argued remotely before a three-judge appellate panel.
On Monday, the Fourth Circuit upheld the district court’s judgment. The court issued a published unanimous opinion by Judge Harris, agreeing with Cadwalader’s argument that Bivens did not provide a right of action for the types of claims brought by the plaintiff, and affirming the dismissal of all claims against the client.