Federal Appellate Court Limits Office Search Challenges

February 11, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A federal appellate court has ruled that executives only have a limited right to challenge workplace police searches outside their personal offices.

A National Law Journal article said that was a key finding in a recent decision by the 9 th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled executives have to show they have a personal connection either to the material seized in the search or to the area in which the material was located to challenge the search .  

The 9 th Circuit judges said in order to prevail in a seizure challenge, executives must first show:

  • the item seized was personal property otherwise kept in personal space;
  • the defendant had custody or immediate control of the seized item; and
  • the defendant took precautions to secure the place being searched.

The appellate court noted small family-run companies would have a different standard because daily control by executives is broader there than in a larger organization.

The ruling came in a case involving a Nevada company involving executives accused by authorities of committing Medicare fraud.

The decision in U.S. v SDI Future Health Inc . No. 07-10261 (9th Cir.) is available here