United States of America v. Approximately Twelve Thousand ($12,000) Dollars in United States Currency

Filing 43

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER that the Defendant/Claimant's 13 Motion for Summary Judgment and the United States of America's 31 Motion for Summary Judgment are DENIED. Signed by Hon. Chief Judge Mark E. Fuller on 9/17/2008. (cb, )

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT F O R THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA N O R T H E R N DIVISION U N IT E D STATES OF AMERICA, P L A IN T IF F , v. A P P R O X IM A T E L Y TWELVE T H O U S A N D ($12,000) DOLLARS IN U N IT E D STATES CURRENCY, DEFEND AN T. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) C A S E NO. 2:07-cv-687-MEF (WO-Do Not Publish) M E M O R A N D U M OPINION AND ORDER IN T R O D U C T IO N In this action for Forfeiture In Rem pursuant to Title II of the Controlled Substances A c t, 21 U.S.C. 801 et seq., the United States seeks to forfeit and condemn approximately $ 1 2 ,0 0 0 in United States currency seized from Derrick Wesley Davis ("Davis") on January 1 8 , 2007. This cause is before the Court on the Defendant/Claimant's Motion for Summary Ju d g m en t (Doc. # 13) filed on January 25, 2008 by Davis and the United States of America's M o tio n for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 31) filed by Plaintiff on February 18, 2008. For the re a s o n s set forth below, the motions are due to be DENIED. JURISDICTION AND VENUE T h is Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the lawsuit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1 3 4 5 and 1355.1 Venue is proper in this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1395 and 21 U.S.C. 881 because the act or omissions giving rise to the forfeiture occurred in this district and th e property is located within this district. D IS C U S S IO N U n d e r Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), summary judgment is appropriate "if th e pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with th e affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the m o v in g party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 3 1 7 , 322 (1986). The party asking for summary judgment "always bears the initial r e sp o n s ib i lity of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those p o rtio n s of `the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, to g e th e r with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine is s u e of material fact." Id. at 323. The movant can meet this burden by presenting evidence s h o w in g there is no dispute of material fact, or by showing the non-moving party has failed to present evidence in support of some element of its case on which it bears the ultimate Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1345, "the [federal] district courts shall have original ju ris d ic tio n of all civil actions, suits or proceedings commenced by the United States . . . " In addition, 28 U.S.C. 1355(a) provides that "the [federal] district courts shall have original jurisd iction , exclusive of the courts of the States, of any action or proceeding for the recovery o r enforcement of any fine, penalty, or forfeiture, pecuniary or otherwise, incurred under any A c t of Congress, except matters within the jurisdiction of the Court of International Trade u n d e r section 1582 of this title." 28 U.S.C. 1355(b) provides in rem jurisdiction over this a c ti o n . 2 1 b u rd e n of proof. Id. at 322-23. O n c e the moving party has met its burden, Rule 56(e) "requires the nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings and by [his] own affidavits, or by the `depositions, answers to in t e rr o g a to r ie s , and admissions on file,' designate `specific facts showing that there is a g e n u in e issue for trial.'" Id. at 324. To avoid summary judgment, the nonmoving party " m u s t do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material fa c ts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (e m p h a s is added). A plaintiff must present evidence demonstrating that he can establish the b a s ic elements of his claim. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. A court ruling on a motion for su m m a ry judgment must believe the evidence of the non-movant and must draw all ju s tif ia b le inferences from the evidence in the non-moving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty L o b b y , Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). After the nonmoving party has responded to the m o tio n for summary judgment, the court must grant summary judgment if there is no genuine is s u e of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See F e d . R. Civ. P. 56(c). Because there are cross-motions for summary judgment in this case, th e Court has considered the facts and reasonable inferences to be drawn from the facts in th e light most favorable to the non-moving party as the Court considers each of the motions. T h e Court has carefully considered all deposition excerpts and documents submitted in support of and in opposition to the motion. Because of the present procedural posture, this C o u rt cannot and has not engaged in any credibility determinations in deciding this motion. 3 A lth o u g h in some respects, this case presents some very close questions, this Court cannot s a y at this stage of the proceedings that there are no genuine issues of material fact or that e ith e r the United States of America or Davis have shown that they are entitled to judgment a s a matter of law. Indeed, many of the material facts appear to be in dispute. Consequently, th e Defendant/Claimant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 13) and the United States o f America's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 31) are DENIED. D o n e this the 17th day of September, 2008. /s/ Mark E. Fuller CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 4

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