M.D.Pa.: Administrative PC shown for administrative search warrant

Two prior salmonella occurrences satisfied to justify probable cause for an administrative search. The motion for contempt for not providing passwords for the computers is premature. In re Admin., Establishment Insp. of Spa & Organic Essentials of Pa., LLC, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65476 (M.D. Pa. Apr. 17, 2019)*:

Judged against these guideposts, Spa & Essentials’ motion to quash this warrant plainly fails. At the outset, we find that there was ample probable cause for the FDA to conduct this search. Spa & Organic Essentials had been identified through at least two separate means as the potential source for salmonella-tainted kratom, the substance which was inked to a nationwide outbreak of illness in 2018. The evidence tying Spa & Organic’s products to a serious public health emergency was clear, compelling and provided probable cause to conduct this search. Moreover, the necessity of obtaining the warrant was clearly underscored by Spa & Essentials’ adamant refusal to cooperate with other investigative measures, a refusal that placed this company’s personal profits above concerns of public health.

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In our view a motion for enforcement of the warrant or for contempt, which seeks to compel an arguably testimonial act, the production of computer passwords, is premature and inappropriate for one simple reason. While we read the search warrant we signed as clearly authorizing the seizure of records, including computerized records, we do not construe that warrant as also affirmatively requiring Spa & Essentials’ owners to engage in testimonial conduct like speaking to investigators or divulging passwords. Since we do not find that the warrant included such commands we cannot find that an order enforcing the warrant could direct such disclosures. Nor do we believe that Spa & Essentials’ owner would currently be in contempt of the search warrant for declining to speak to investigators or divulge this information.

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