United States of America v. $3,000.00 in US Currency
OPINION AND ORDER granting 6 Motion to strike claim. Signed by Judge William C Lee on 3/11/13. cc: Archie Johnson (mc)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
$3,000.00 in U.S. Currency,
CIVIL NO. 2:12cv327
OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the court on a motion to strike claim, filed by the government on
December 7, 2012. There has been no response to the motion to strike. For the following
reasons, the motion will be granted.
On August 13, 2012, the government filed a Verified Complaint for Forfeiture In Rem
against $3000.00 in U.S. Currency (“the Defendant Property”). On August 21, 2012, pursuant to
Rule G(4)(b) of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture
Actions (“Supplemental Rules”), the government sent a Direct Notice of the forfeiture action, a
copy of the complaint and a copy of the Warrant to Archie Johnson (“Claimant”), a person
known to the government to be a potential claimant to defendant property.
The Direct Notice informed the Claimant that he must file a verified claim within 35 days
of the date of the notice (August 21, 2012), as well as the requirement that he file an Answer to
the complaint within 20 days of filing the verified claim. In addition, the Warrant informed the
Claimant that he must file a claim in order to contest the forfeiture and that the claim must be
signed by him under penalty of perjury.
On September 19, 2012, the Claimant filed a Claim to the government’s Complaint. The
Claim was signed by the Claimant but it was not verified. On October 11, 2012, the government
sent the Claimant a courtesy letter informing him that his claim did not comply with Rule
G(5)(a)(i)(C), in that it was not verified. The letter advised the Claimant that in order to contest
the forfeiture, the Claimant must file a claim under penalty of perjury and that he must also file
an Answer to the complaint. The government informed the Claimant that it would give him
additional time up to October 30, 2012, in which to file an appropriate claim. However, the
Claimant has not filed a verified claim or contacted the government in regards to the instant case.
Therefore the government has requested this court to strike the claim filed by the
Claimant for failure to comply with Rule G(5)(a)(i)(C) of the Supplemental Rules. Supplemental
Rule G(8)(c) provides that at any time before trial, the government may move to strike a claim or
answer for failing to comply with Supplemental Rule G(5) or because the claimant lacks
standing to contest the forfeiture. See United States v. $12,126.00 in U.S. Currency, 337 Fed.
Appx. 818, 820 (11th Cir. 2009) (the government may move under Rule G(8)(c) to strike a claim
for failure to comply with Rule G(5). Failure to comply with Rule G(5) means claimant lacks
statutory standing. Id.; See also United States v. $14,132.00 in U.S. Currency, 2011 WL
3235270, *1 (D.Col. July 28, 2011) (granting Rule G(8)(c) motion to dismiss for lack of
statutory standing where claimant filed claim but no answer). In this circuit, as in all others, the
pleading requirements in Rule G(5) are strictly enforced. See United States v. $61,500 in U.S.
Currency, 2010 WL 2317136, *3 (S.D. Ill. Sept. 21, 2009) (“… strict compliance with the
pleading requirements is required unless the claimant has a good explanation for his failure to
file a timely claim in proper form.”). Claimant’s pro se status does not relieve him of the
requirement of complying with Rule G. United States v. $1000.00 Refunded to Mango Creek
Properties, Inc, 2012 WL 254044, *2 (D.Neb. Jan. 27, 2012) (even pro se claimant must strictly
comply with the pleading requirements in Rule G; striking pleadings filed by claimant for lack of
statutory standing because claimant failed to file a verified claim); United States v. $22,226.25 in
Interbank FX Account, 763 F.Supp. 2d 944, 948-49 (E.D. Tenn. 2011) (granting motion to strike
for failure to file an answer, and holding that the filing requirements must be strictly enforced,
even against a pro se litigant).
Supplemental Rule G(5)(a)(i)(C) states that the claim must be signed by the Claimant
under penalty of perjury. This requirement is considered the most significant requirement of
Rule G(5)(a). As the Third Circuit held in United States v. $487,825.00, 484 F.3d 662, 664-65
(3d Cir. 2007), “The requirement that the claimant file a timely verified statement serves two
purposes. First, it forces claimants to come forward as quickly as possible after the initiation of
forfeiture proceedings, so that the court may hear all interested parties and resolve the dispute
without delay. Second, it minimizes the danger of false claims by requiring claims to be verified
or solemnly affirmed. For these reasons, the requirement is no mere procedural technicality.”
See also United States v. Commodity Account No. 549 54930, 219 F.3d 595, 597 (7th Cir.2000)
(“[V]erification is an essential element of any claim because of the substantial danger of false
claims.”) Therefore, “[i]f the claimant fails to file a verified claim, he will not have standing as a
party to the action.” United States v. 2001 Volkswagen Beetle, 2008 WL 5120737 at *4 (E.D.
Cal. Dec. 5, 2008). See United States v. Real Property Located in Merced County, 2008 WL
706599, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Mar.14, 2008) (“[o]ne who does not file a verified claim pursuant to the
Supplemental Rules lacks standing in the forfeiture action”).
In the present case, the Claimant was informed in the Direct Notice and in the Warrant of
the necessity to file a verified claim (and an answer). Having failed to do so, the Claimant was
then sent a courtesy letter again advising him of the requirement and affording him sufficient
time to comply before the government took any further action. However, the Claimant still has
not filed a proper claim. Accordingly, the governments motion to strike claim will be granted.
On the basis of the foregoing, the government’s motion to strike claim [DE 6] is hereby
Entered: March 11, 2013.
s/ William C. Lee
William C. Lee, Judge
United States District Court