A Massachusetts federal judge last week dismissed Gov. Ron DeSantis from a lawsuit over the flights of migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in 2022, but left the door open for the case to continue against the company that arranged the flights.

U.S. District Court Judge Allison Burroughs Friday dismissed Governor DeSantis and other state officials involved in the case, which was brought by several of the approximately 50 asylum seekers who say they were tricked onto the trips.

In her 77-page decision, Judge Burroughs ruled there was not sufficient evidence in the lawsuit to tie Governor DeSantis and others to illegal activity in Massachusetts.

“The court cannot ascertain what actions were undertaken by whom and therefore cannot determine which, if any, of the individual defendants transacted business or caused injury here, leaving it no choice but to find that, at least on this record, personal jurisdiction has not been established,” she wrote.

Governor DeSantis recently intimated that he could send more migrants to the Vineyard. — Ray Ewing

But Vertol, the company granted a $1.5 million contract from Florida to conduct the flights, failed to get several charges against it dismissed and Judge Burroughs said there was enough evidence to support the allegations of due process violations, unlawful seizure, false imprisonment, inflicting emotional distress and other charges.

Vertol tried to have the charges dismissed, citing in one instance case law surrounding an Immigration and Customs Enforcement case that deemed detaining minors away from their families within the constitution.

But Judge Burroughs disagreed with Vertol’s argument.

“Unlike ICE agents legitimately enforcing the country’s immigration laws, the court sees no legitimate purpose for rounding up highly vulnerable individuals on false pretenses and publicly injecting them into a divisive national debate,” she wrote. “Treating vulnerable individuals like Plaintiffs in this way...is nothing short of extreme, outrageous, uncivilized, intolerable, and stunning.”

Judge Burroughs also ruled that the case could stay in Massachusetts after requests to move it to Florida.

Though Governor DeSantis is no longer involved in the case, the attorneys representing the migrants cheered Judge Burrough’s decision.

“Vertol contracted with the State of Florida to carry out the flights and was responsible for transporting the migrants to Massachusetts,” Lawyers for Civil Rights Boston said in a statement. “The favorable ruling is a major victory in the Martha’s Vineyard Case, and it sends a crucial message: private companies can — and will — be held accountable for helping rogue state actors violate rights of vulnerable immigrants through illegal and fraudulent schemes.”

The group, working pro bono, said the other cases were dismissed for now, but they could be reasserted at another time.

“To be clear: the Martha’s Vineyard migrants will not stop here,” the firm said.

The migrants, largely from Venezuela, came to the Vineyard from Texas after promises of jobs and Governor DeSantis took credit for similar flights to California last year. Some of the Venezuelans stayed on the Vineyard, while others have made a life off-Island.

Governor DeSantis last year expanded the controversial state program that paid for the transportation of asylum seekers to other states and has intimated that he could send more to the Island.

“We do have our transport program also that’s going to be operational,” Governor DeSantis said on the Dana Loesch podcast last month. “Haitians land in the Florida Keys, their next stop very well may be Martha’s Vineyard.”

In a statement to the Gazette, the governor’s office said the flights were conducted lawfully by the state legislature.

“We look forward to Florida’s next illegal immigrant relocation flight, and we are glad to bring national attention to the crisis at the southern border,” said press secretary Julia Friedland.