United States of America v. $62,200.00 in U.S. Currency
ORDER entered: The court grants the renewed motion for sanctions. (Docket Entry No. 26). Sanchez's claim, (Docket Entry No. 6), is dismissed, with prejudice. Sanchez's answer to the complaint, (Docket Entry No. 10), is stricken from the record.(Signed by Judge Lee H Rosenthal) Parties notified.(leddins, 4)
Case 4:21-cv-03971 Document 27 Filed on 01/18/23 in TXSD Page 1 of 2
United States District Court
Southern District of Texas
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
$62,200.00 IN U.S. CURRENCY,
January 18, 2023
Nathan Ochsner, Clerk
CIVIL ACTION NO. H-21-3971
This is a forfeiture action by the United States against property allegedly received in
exchange for controlled substances or listed chemicals in violation of the Controlled Substances
Act, 21 U.S.C. § 80 et seq. (Docket Entry No. 1). Leonel Sanchez, as bailee of the property owner,
filed a claim for the return of the property, (Docket Entry No. 6), and filed an answer to the
government’s complaint. (Docket Entry No. 10).
In November 2022, the United States moved for sanctions against Sanchez for his failure
to participate in discovery. (Docket Entry No. 24). Treating that motion as a motion to compel,
the court ordered Sanchez to respond to the government’s discovery requests by December 2,
2022. (Docket Entry No. 25). The government provided notice of the court’s order to Sanchez.
(Docket Entry No. 26-2). The government has now renewed its motion for sanctions, asking that
the court strike Sanchez’s claim and answer. (Docket Entry No. 26). Sanchez did not respond to
the discovery requests as ordered by the court, has not communicated with the government, and
has not responded to either the original or renewed motion. 1
The court notes that the claimant did not reliably communicate with his own prior counsel in this matter,
leading that attorney to withdraw from his representation. See, e.g., Unopposed Motion for Richard M.
Barnett, A Professional Law Corporation to Withdraw as Attorney. (Docket Entry No. 19).
Case 4:21-cv-03971 Document 27 Filed on 01/18/23 in TXSD Page 2 of 2
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(b)(2)(A) provides that if a party to a civil proceeding
in federal court “fails to obey an order to provide or permit discovery . . . the court where the action
is pending may issue further just orders.” Such orders include “striking pleadings in whole or in
part” or “rendering a default judgment against the disobedient party.” The Fifth Circuit has
affirmed the use of such sanctions for willful failure to participate in discovery as part of a civil
forfeiture action such as this. See, e.g., United States v. Real Prop. Known as 200 Acres of Land
near FM 2686 Rio Grande City, Tex., 773 F.3d 654, 660 (5th Cir. 2014).
Sanchez has not obeyed the court’s order compelling him to provide discovery to the
government, (Docket Entry No. 25), and has otherwise failed to participate in this matter. The
government asks court to strike the Sanchez’s claim and answer to the government’s complaint,
which would have the effect of dismissing the claim. In this situation, where the claimant has
refused to obey a court order and otherwise stopped participating in the prosecution of his claim,
such relief is appropriate. Because striking the claim has the effect of a dismissal, the court will
dismiss the claim, with prejudice.
The court grants the renewed motion for sanctions. (Docket Entry No. 26). Sanchez’s
claim, (Docket Entry No. 6), is dismissed, with prejudice. Sanchez’s answer to the complaint,
(Docket Entry No. 10), is stricken from the record.
SIGNED on January 18, 2023, at Houston, Texas.
Lee H. Rosenthal
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?