Jan 10, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Florida could pay $1 million to defend itself in lawsuit over migrant flights

Ron DeSantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in Sept. 2022. Photo: Tiffany Tompkins/Bradenton Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Florida may end up paying up to $1 million to defend itself in a class action lawsuit filed over its decision to fly nearly 50 Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts last September.

Driving the news: The law firms Consovoy McCarthy and Campbell Conroy & O’Neil have been contracted to represent Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and other state officials in the lawsuit, the Tallahassee Democrat reported Monday.

  • Records from the Florida Accountability Contract Tracking System show that the Florida Department of Transportation's contracts with Consovoy McCarthy and Campbell Conroy & O’Neil were signed in September and both have a total contract amount of $500,000.

State of play: So far, Consovoy McCarthy has been paid $52,420, while Campbell Conroy & O’Neil has received $59,350.

  • The total sum paid so far for their legal services — $111,770 — comes in addition to the nearly $1.6 million the Florida Department of Transportation paid Vertol Systems Company, the aviation company that conducted the migrant flights.
  • Taken together, it means that so far Florida has paid almost $35,000 per migrant relocated on the flights.
  • The firms could work for the state for up to three years, per the Tallahassee Democrat.
  • Neither law firm has responded to Axios' request for comment.

The other side: "Our clients have been stripped of their rights and their dignity. We are committed to holding DeSantis and other perpetrators accountable," Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, the executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, which is representing the migrants in the case.

  • "We are appalled to see reports that DeSantis has been using scarce taxpayer dollars to fund his unlawful immigration scheme to the tune of approximately $35,000 per migrant. DeSantis is hurting migrants and taxpayers in one fell swoop," he added.

The big picture: Multiple lawsuits have been filed against DeSantis' office in connection with the two charter flights of migrants.

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