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Humboldt County recently settled a lawsuit with Tan Nguyen, a driver who was pulled over for speeding in the county in September 2013.

Nguyen wasn't charged with any moving violations, and he wasn't ticketed for speeding.

So why did he sue?

When he was pulled over, the sheriff's deputy found $50,000 in cash in Nguyen's car, and said if Nguyen didn't turn over the cash, he'd be arrested.

Nguyen, who said he didn't commit any crimes, believed the seizure to be unlawful and took the county to court.

Humboldt County settled by reimbursing Nguyen to the tune of $50,000, plus attorneys' fees.

According to Tod Story, the executive director of the Nevada branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, the police search of Nguyen's vehicle likely wasn't justified.

"If somebody is speeding, [the officer] would have to see something that would give him pause or lead him to believe that he, by searching the vehicle, was preventing some future crime from occurring," Story told KNPR's State of Nevada."

Humboldt County said it acted within the law by seizing the cash, but Story disagreed.

"I don't see that," he said. "If the cause that they claim for searching the vehicle was that the driver was speeding, I'm not sure why searching a box in the vehicle would have anything to do with the reason for the person speeding."

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Story said the case reminded him of an increasing number of civil forfeiture cases throughout the country, where police seize property, retain it and use it for their own purposes, much to the disapproval of both the ACLU and the federal Department of Justice.

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Tod Story, executive director, ACLU of Nevada

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