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Civil Division


The Civil Division for the Northern District of Iowa represents the interests of the United States in a wide variety of defensive and affirmative civil lawsuits. It defends United States government agencies and personnel in various civil suits under the Bivens alleging a constitutional tort claims. The Division also represents the government in tort (personal injury) actions, employment discrimination cases, judicial appeals of administrative decisions denying applications for Social Security disability benefits, and foreclosure actions. The Division also protects the interests of federal agencies which are owed money in handling federal and state foreclosures and bankruptcies.

The Civil Division has an Affirmative Civil Enforcement (ACE) Unit, which pursues fraud cases on behalf of the United States and protects the Civil Rights of all citizens of the Northern District of Iowa.

Affirmative Civil Enforcement (ACE) Unit

Affirmative Civil Enforcement (ACE) is a priority of the United States Attorney's Office and is a major factor in the amount of civil recoveries (which have been in the billions) since its inception in 1995.

The ACE Attorney pursues the civil aspect of cases in which there has been a false claim or statement made to the United States or where the public's health, welfare or safety has been compromised. ACE enhances the criminal statutes, ensuring that those who submit false claims to the government, or who otherwise improperly obtain federal funds, do not keep their ill-gotten gains. Most of the dollars recovered are returned to the defrauded agencies.

The ACE unit also deals with the civil aspects of violations of the various environmental statutes. The ACE unit works with DOJ's environmental division and collect civil penalties and fines.

Publicity about ACE has helped deter future misconduct when criminal sanctions were not always appropriate. ACE settlements can be written to require corporate defendants to create internal controls, alter their corporate structure, or submit periodic reports to federal agencies. In some health care cases, physicians or pharmacists agree to surrender their licenses or improve their accounting practices.

Iowa's Northern District has no dollar thresholds for taking civil fraud cases. If you would like to report any fraud against the federal government, please call our office at (319) 363-6333.

Civil Rights

One of the top priorities of the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa is to protect the civil rights of the citizens of the Northern District of Iowa.

All complaints of civil rights violations are reviewed by the civil rights attorney in the Civil Division. The complaint is then forwarded to the Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., for review and a final determination for prosecution.

Instances of alleged police misconduct or official misconduct, are forwarded to the local FBI for investigation prior to forwarding to the Civil Rights Division in Washington.

The primary area of civil, civil prosecution in the Northern District of Iowa is Americans with Disabilities Act cases. Other complaints the Northern District has reviewed for referral and prosecution include complaints of violations in the areas of fair housing, civil rights of institutionalized person, and official misconduct.

One of the most comprehensive reviews and resolutions of architectural barriers in a shopping mall in the United States was negotiated through the efforts of the Northern District of Iowa. The Department of Justice signed an agreement resolving a complaint filed against College Square Mall in Cedar Falls, Iowa, by an individual who had difficulty accessing portions of the mall in a wheelchair. More than two-hundred ADA violations were remedied and the former owner agreed to pay a civil penalty of $40,000 to the United States. Articles may be viewed at or

In 2007, the Civil Division, was recognized by the Department of Justice with a Certificate of Commendation for “outstanding performance and invaluable assistance in support of the activities of the Civil Rights Division .”

I. Americans with Disabilities Act Web Site

The ADA web site may be accessed at:

The ADA web site is an invaluable and comprehensive source of information that covers compliance with the ADA and includes: a toll-free information line; ADA Publications which includes videos; guidance for businesses and non-profit service providers; guidance for state and local governments; information for law enforcement; instructions on filing a complaint; federal resources; other resources; and the recent amendments to the ADA, including changes made by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-325).

II. Community Outreach

A. Project Civic Access (PCA)

In November 2007, the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa conducted a seminar entitled “Project Civic Access: First Steps Toward Solving Common ADA Problems.” The focus of the conference was to introduce attendees to the newly developed PCA Toolkit which is designed to help state and local government voluntarily conduct their own assessment of compliance with the ADA without the need for federal intervention, and ensure equal access to important government programs, services and activities for persons with disabilities.

Numerous attendees have contacted the U. S. Attorney’s office after the conference for assistance with their ADA questions.

B. ADA Voting Compliance

In 2008, the U. S. Attorney’s office mailed an informational publication and CD entitled “ADA Checklist for Polling Places” to all counties in the Northern District of Iowa. The publication and CD provided information designed to help ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act to all counties. The checklist was provided to assist counties in discovering and correcting problems at polling places.

C. Access to 9-1-1 and Telephone Emergency Services

Access to 9-1-1 services by the hearing impaired is a high priority of the Northern District of Iowa. This office has conducted compliance reviews since 1997 when the Department of Justice implemented a nationwide review of 9-1-1 services to ensure that there is compliance with the ADA by all Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs).

III. How to File Complaints

You may file a complaint of potential violations of federal civil rights laws which includes ADA violations by either mailing, faxing, or e-mailing your complaint to us.

Mail, Fax or E-mail Complaints

Click on the following link and complete the form for complaints against state or local government.

For the Spanish version of the Title II Complaint Form go to:

For complaints against private entities that serve the public:

1. Send your full name, address, and telephone number, and the name of the party discriminated against;

2. The name of the business, organization, or institution that you believe has discriminated;

3. A description of the act or acts of discrimination, the date or dates of the discriminatory acts, and the name or names of the individuals whom you believe discriminated; and

4. Other information that you believe necessary to support your complaint.

For the Spanish version of complaints against private entities that server the public go to:

Mail or fax the completed complaint form to the address below or e-mail the form to:

The form is also available by calling the U.S. Attorney's Office at (319) 363-6333.

United States Attorney
Northern District of Iowa
Civil Rights Division
401 First St., SE
Suite 400
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401-1825

Fax: (319) 363-1990

Phone: (319) 363-6333


Updated June 9, 2015