RIVERSIDE, Calif.—Empyreal Logistics announced today that it will resolve a federal lawsuit against the San Bernardino County Sheriff after the company and Sheriff released a joint statement on moving forward after the seizures of state-licensed cannabis deposits in late 2021. The lawsuit was filed by the Institute for Justice (IJ), with local counsel David C. Bass of KNCH LLP, after Empyreal’s vehicles were pulled over multiple times and more than $1.1 million was seized and transferred to federal law enforcement for civil forfeiture proceedings. Earlier this month, Empyreal agreed to dismiss federal plaintiffs from the lawsuit after the federal government agreed to return 100% of the seized funds.
“Empyreal, our financial institution clients and their state-licensed cannabis customers operate within the law, which is why we chose to bring a legal challenge to the seizures in San Bernardino County,” said Empyreal CEO Deirdra O’Gorman. “Now that the funds have been returned and after meeting with the Sheriff, we are confident that we can continue serving state-legal businesses without future disruptions.”
“We are pleased to have helped Empyreal achieve a successful result and return to business operations in San Bernardino County,” said IJ Senior Attorney Dan Alban. “We will continue to challenge the use of civil forfeiture nationwide at the state and federal level.”
IJ is the leading defender of civil forfeiture victims, representing people in court, highlighting the many problems with civil forfeiture through strategic research, and advocating for the abolition of civil forfeiture in legislatures. In the past two years, IJ has brought class action lawsuits against the FBI over its raid of security deposit boxes, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Transportation Security Administration over searches and seizures of cash from travelers at airports, and Harris County (Houston) over its civil forfeiture practices.
The settlement announced today does not affect a separate civil forfeiture action in Kansas in which Empyreal is represented by separate counsel.