Lawsuit over cold cell at Detroit border clears key hurdle

DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit-area man who said he was forced to remove his coat and shoes before spending four hours in a cold cell can sue a U.S. border officer, a judge said Monday.

Anas Elhady, a U.S. citizen of Yemeni descent, was stopped at the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit while returning from Windsor, Ontario, in April 2015.

Elhady said U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers took his shoes, belt, watch and jacket and occasionally asked him questions, between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.

He was later taken to a hospital where his body temperature was 96 degrees. Elhady was given oxygen and blankets. Border officers returned him to the Ambassador Bridge station and released him.

"Elhady has presented enough evidence that a reasonable jury could find that he was placed in a cell at freezing or near-freezing temperatures for at least four hours, and that such treatment constitutes a violation of his right to be free from exposure to severe weather and temperatures," U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith said.

The lawsuit will move ahead against one officer. The government doubted that the cell could have been extremely cold without affecting the rest of the building.

Published: Wed, Feb 12, 2020