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Judge dismisses complaint from injured DAPL protester

BISMARCK — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought against the federal government by an injured Dakota Access Pipeline protester seeking her seized property.

U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright of Minnesota dismissed Sophia Wilansky's complaint without prejudice Monday, Aug. 27. She suffered serious injuries when an object exploded while she was protesting the oil pipeline in November 2016.

Federal agents took the clothing Wilansky was wearing when she was injured after signing a written agreement with Wilansky's father to give her access to her possessions for inspection in the future. The government obtained shrapnel from her arm through a grand jury subpoena.

Wilansky, who is from New York, sought the items because they could be "evidence to support her future legal claims." She argued the federal government "callously disregarded her Fourth Amendment rights by retaining the seized property for an unreasonable length of time," according to Wright's order.

The federal government said it needs Wilansky's property because it is part of an ongoing criminal investigation. Criminal charges have not been brought in connection with Wilansky's injuries, the judge wrote.

Wright said there was nothing in the agreement with Wilansky's father that "imposes a limitation on the length of time during which the United States may retain possession of the clothing."

An attorney for Wilansky didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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