UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. REAL PROPERTY LOCATED AT 8 DRIFT STREET, NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY et al
MEMORANDUM ORDER denying 28 Motion for Discovery. Signed by Judge Michael A. Shipp on 4/20/2015. (eaj)
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Civil Action No. 14-3587 (MAS)
REAL PROPERTY LOCATED AT 8
DRIFT STREET, NEW BRUNSWICK,
NEW JERSEY, et al.,
Defendants in rem.
This matter comes before the Court upon Claimants Gengwu Qiu and 52 BD, Inc.'s
("Claimants") motion to compel discovery from Plaintiff United States of America (the "United
States") pursuant to Rule 37(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 28.) The United
States opposes the motion as premature. (ECF No. 32.) The Court has carefully considered the
parties' submissions and decided the matter without oral argument pursuant to Local Civil Rule
This is a civil action in rem for the forfeiture of the defendants' assets pursuant to 18 U.S.C.
§§ 98l(a)(l)(A) and (a)(l)(C). (Compl.
1, ECF No. 1.) The United States seeks forfeiture of
certain real property and currency from three bank accounts, which allegedly are proceeds from
the transportation, transmittal, or transfer of money from China to the United States by Gengmin
Qui that he knew was stolen, converted or taken by fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2314.
Claimants filed verified claims in the instant matter and assert an interest in the currency seized.
On August 1, 2014, Claimants served discovery requests on the United States pursuant to Rules
33 and 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. On September 23, 2014, the United States
served special interrogatories on Claimant Gengwu Qui pursuant to Rule G(6) of the Supplemental
Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions (the "Supplemental Rules"),
and Claimant provided responses on October 27, 2014.
Claimants assert that the United States has produced a large number of documents to date
but has not responded to their interrogatories or provided written responses to their request for
production of documents. Claimants now move, pursuant to Rule 37, to compel the United States
to respond to their discovery requests. Subsequent to Claimants' filing the motion sub Judice, the
United States filed a motion to strike the Claimants' claims for lack of standing. The United States
now argues that the Claimants' motion is premature because Claimants' standing has not been
established. The Court agrees.
Civil asset forfeiture proceedings are governed by two sets of procedural rules: the
Supplemental Rules and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See United States v. $8,221,877.16
in US. Currency, 330 F.3d 141, 149 (3d Cir. 2003). "The balance between the two is struck in
favor of the Supplemental Rules, which always apply to civil forfeiture proceedings." Id. The
Supplemental Rules allow the United States to serve special interrogatories on a claimant to gather
information regarding a claimant's standing to assert a claim in a civil forfeiture action. See Supp.
R. G(6); see also Supp. R. 0(6), (8)(c) advisory committee's notes. Interrogatories under Rule 33
are also permitted in a civil forfeiture proceeding. See Supp. R. G( 6) advisory committee note.
Pursuant to Rule 3 7, a party propounding discovery may seek an order compelling
responses when an opposing party has failed to respond or has provided incomplete responses.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(3)(B). "A party moving to compel bears the initial burden of showing the
relevance of the requested information." Morrison v. Phila. Hous. Auth., 203 F.R.D. 195, 196
(E.D. Pa. 2001). Standing, however, is a threshold issue and courts must determine standing before
addressing any other issue. See, e.g. United States v. $263,327.95, 936 F. Supp. 2d 468, 471
(D.N.J. 2013); United States v. $133,420.00 in US. Currency, 672 F.3d 629, 644 (9th Cir. 2012).
A "court must determine whether the claimant has standing to contest the forfeiture, before [it]
addresses any other issue that the claimant may raise." United States v. $104, 25 0. 00 in US.
Currency, 947 F. Supp. 2d 560, 565 (D. Md. 2013). Accordingly, Claimants' motion to compel
discovery is premature as there is a pending motion relating to Claimants' standing. If the Court
determines that Claimants have standing, they may then move to compel discovery.
For the reasons set forth above, and other good cause shown,
IT IS on this
)o·':ay of April 2015,
ORDERED that Claimants' Motion to Compel
Discovery (ECF No. 28) is DENIED without prejudice.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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