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United States v. One 2007 Harley Davidson Street Glide Motorcycle Vin 1HD1KB4197Y722798

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

November 15, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ONE 2007 HARLEY DAVIDSON STREET GLIDE MOTORCYCLE VIN 1HD1KB4197Y722798 et al, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Alexander Williams, Jr. United States District Judge

This is a civil forfeiture action. Pending before the Court is Claimants’ Motion to Dismiss. The Court has reviewed the record and deems a hearing unnecessary. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Claimants’ Motion to Dismiss.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On July 27, 2012, state and federal agents executed a search and seizure warrant at a garage apparently named Scooter’s Automotive & Repair or Scooter’s Place Towing and Service (“Scooter’s”). Scooter’s is located at 5130 Hawthorne Road, La Plata, Maryland 20646. According to the United States, Claimant Robert Scott Grieninger (“Grieninger”) managed Scooter’s. The agents discovered loaded guns, drug paraphernalia, cocaine in leather vest, and $3, 364.00 cash in a toolbox. On the same day, detectives executed a search and seizure warrant at Grieninger’s residence, which is located at 6000 Winters Place, La Plata, Maryland 20646. There, detectives discovered a loaded pistol and a small ziplock bag of “suspected cocaine.” Doc. No. 1 at 6.

On July 31, 2012, detectives executed a search and seizure warrant authorizing the seizure of bank records and funds from Grieninger’s accounts with PNC Bank in La Plata, Maryland (“PNC”). On August 29, 2012, detectives received documents pertaining to two PNC bank accounts. The first account, PNC 5570194743 (“Account 1”), was in the name of both Grieninger and Karen Elaine Clement.[1]Account 1 held $10, 371.41. The second account, PNC 5570736901 (“Account 2”), was in Grieninger’s name only and held $15, 077.18. The detectives seized the funds from both accounts as drug proceeds.

Grieninger has been charged with various offenses as a result of the detectives’ discoveries. The United States adds that Grieninger has reported no income.

On or around December 13, 2012, Claimants, through counsel, filed a claim contesting the forfeiture. See Doc. No. 8-3. The Parties agreed to extend the United States’ deadline for commencing a judicial forfeiture action from March 13, 2013 to June 11, 2013. See Doc. No. 6-2.

The United States asserts that it finalized the instant Verified Complaint for Forfeiture (Complaint) on June 11, 2013 and submitted it to its office staff for filing on the same day. However, the United States did not file its Complaint until June 12, 2013, which came one day after the extended deadline. The United States concedes that its office runner did not take the Complaint to the Court for filing until June 12, 2013. See Doc. No. 8 at 3–4. The United States asserts that “support staff personnel believed that the complaint was placed in the outgoing box in time for the office runner’s [July 11, 2013] afternoon run to the Court.” Id. ¶ 9, at 3. The United States adds that “[i]t is unclear whether the government’s complaint was not included in the runner’s afternoon run on July 11 because the runner left a few minutes earlier than normal, or whether office support staff personnel placed the complaint in the outgoing box a few minutes late.” Id. ¶10, at 3. The United States has not submitted affidavits to support these factual averments.

On July 30, 2013, Claimants filed a Motion to Dismiss. Doc. No. 6. Claimants assert that the Complaint is time-barred under applicable forfeiture law. The United States filed a Response on August 16, 2013. The United States essentially argues that it had good cause within the meaning of applicable forfeiture law for its failure to file the Complaint on time. Alternatively, the United States seems to ask the Court to equitably toll the deadline.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is appropriate only “if the movant shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323–25 (1986). The Court must “draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, including questions of credibility and of the weight to be accorded to particular evidence.” Masson v. New Yorker Magazine, Inc., 501 U.S. 496, 520 (1991) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986)). To defeat a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must come forward with affidavits or similar evidence to show that a genuine issue of material fact exists. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). A disputed fact presents a genuine issue “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. Material disputes are those that “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Id.

Although the Court should believe the evidence of the nonmoving party and draw all justifiable inferences in his or her favor, the nonmoving party cannot create a genuine dispute of material fact “through mere speculation or the building of one inference upon another.” See Beal v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1985) (citation omitted). Further, if a party “fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party’s assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2). Finally, hearsay statements or conclusory statements with no evidentiary basis cannot support or defeat a motion for summary judgment. See Greensboro Prof’l Firefighters Ass’n, Local 3157 v. City of Greensboro, 64 F.3d 962, 967 (4th Cir. 1995).[2]

III. LEGAL ANALYSIS

A. Whether the United States Has Shown Good Cause for Its Admitted Failure to File the ...


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