Tenant Wins $2.45 Million for Property Manager’s Search

An Egyptian-born radiologist won a $2.45 million verdict for invasion of privacy against a property manager. Shortly before noon on September 11, 2001, the manager entered the apartment to replace furnace filters and check on the condition of the apartment.

She then called police to report that the apartment contained Arabic literature, a how-to-make bomb video, an airplane flight manual, a compact disc with a jacket depicting an exploding plane flying between two buildings and bomb-making chemical residue on the counter tops. This report resulted in the tenant’s arrest, eviction, loss of his job and news articles labeling him a terrorist.

The police investigators found neither information on how-to-make a bomb nor bomb-making materials. The computer software was Microsoft’s 2000 Flight Simulator which is most popular flight simulator game in the U.S. The compact disc jacket did have an airplane on its cover, but it was not exploding and there were no buildings in the picture. The Arabic literature was an English version of the Koran. The “bomb-making chemicals” were merely dust and dirt on the kitchen counter.

The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania jury concluded that the property manager’s search was made with malice or reckless indifference to the tenant’s rights.