Leawood family whose home was raided claims victory after U.S. C - KCTV5

Leawood family whose home was raided claims victory after U.S. Court of Appeals ruling

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A Leawood family is claiming a partial victory after the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled on a lawsuit. (KCTV5) A Leawood family is claiming a partial victory after the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled on a lawsuit. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

A Leawood family is claiming a partial victory after the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled on a lawsuit.

Their home was raided by SWAT teams suspicious of marijuana, but it turns out the family was growing tomatoes as part of a school project. The leaves investigators also found were actually from tea. 

A lower court dismissed the claims after the family filed a lawsuit, which called the raid excessive and ridiculous. But on Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals said portions of that multi-million dollar lawsuit should head to court. 

The Hartes became part of the focus of Operation Constant Gardner, a raid searching for hidden marijuana growers. The former CIA employees were held at gunpoint with their young children inside their Leawood suburban home. 

They said their trash was searched several times in the days leading up to the raid and that deputies made false assumptions and failed to do proper legwork before deciding that the family had a major marijuana-growing operation inside their basement. 

"We had to try and explain to them why this happened and we didn't have a good explanation," said Bob Harte. "We had no idea why they were here. We had nothing in our past." 

The family sued for $7 million, arguing their rights had been violated. The higher court says a jury needs to hear all the facts. 

“Law-abiding tea drinkers and gardeners beware: One visit to a garden store and some loose tea leaves in your trash may subject you to an early morning, SWAT-style raid, complete with battering ram, bulletproof vests, and assault rifles," the judge wrote. 

The family released a statement on Wednesday which reads: 

The Tenth Circuit’s decision is a huge and significant victory, both for the Hartes and the Fourth Amendment. The Hartes are elated with the outcome of their appeal and delighted that this long-awaited day has arrived. The appeals court obviously carefully scrutinized the large factual record. The court's opinions recount the details leading up to and surrounding the frightening raid on the home of a wholly innocent family that had done nothing more than shop at a garden store and discard loose tea leaves in the trash. One of the judges indeed noted that the facts surrounding Operation Constant Gardener and the raid on the Hartes’ home were “too rich for fiction.” The Hartes now look forward to presenting those facts to a jury.

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