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United States v. $6

United States District Court, D. Oregon

October 2, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
$6, 600 IN UNITED STATES CURRENCY, in rem, Defendant.

S. AMANDA MARSHALL, United States Attorney, District of Oregon ANNEMARIE SGARLATA, Assistant United States Attorney, Portland, Oregon, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

BRIAN L. MICHAELS, Eugene, Oregon, Attorney for Claimant Sean Beeman.

OPINION AND ORDER

MALCOLM F. MARSH, District Judge.

This civil forfeiture proceeding comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (#39) on the grounds that Claimant Sean Beeman lacks standing to contest forfeiture of the Defendant Currency. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The material facts are undisputed and taken from the parties' submissions on summary judgment. On March 13, 2012, United States Postal Inspection Service Inspector Scott Helton intercepted a parcel addressed to Claimant. Inspector Helton noticed that the parcel was heavily taped, sent via express mail, and the return address label bore a name not apparently associated with the return address. A narcotics-detection canine deployed by Inspector Helton alerted to the odor of narcotics on the parcel.

The next day, Inspector Helton and other officers traveled to the address listed on the parcel and spoke with Claimant. Upon request, Claimant permitted the officers to open the parcel in which the officers subsequently found the Defendant Currency. Claimant told the officers that the currency in the parcel was the repayment of a loan from a friend.

On September 10, 2012, Plaintiff filed this civil forfeiture proceeding alleging the Defendant Currency represented proceeds traceable to an illegal narcotics transaction. On October 22, 2012, Claimant filed a Claim to the Defendant Currency alleging that he had an ownership interest in the currency and attaching sworn statements from Tyson Shatswell and Derek Jester stating that they sent the currency in repayment of a loan and the currency was not involved in any illegal activity.

In his deposition Claimant again asserted that the Defendant Currency was sent to him as repayment of a loan. Claimant asserted his privilege against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution when asked whether he had a written loan agreement with Mr. Shatswell and Mr. Jester, whether he had an oral loan agreement with Mr. Shatswell and Mr. Jester, whether he had a security interest in the Defendant Currency, and whether the parcel was within his custody or control while it was in transit. Claimant testified that he had never secured a judgment against Mr. Shatswell or Mr. Jester, or perfected a lien against the Defendant Currency. Claimant testified he was not aware that a package containing the Defendant Currency was being sent to him before the parcel arrived.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Washington Mut. Ins. v. United States , 636 F.3d 1207, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). See also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party must show the absence of a dispute as to a material fact. Rivera v. Philip Morris, Inc. , 395 F.3d 1142, 1146 (9th Cir. 2005). In response to a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and show there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact for trial. Id . "This burden is not a light one. The non-moving party must do more than show there is some metaphysical doubt' as to the material facts at issue." In re Oracle Corp. Sec. Litig. , 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted).

A dispute as to a material fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Villiarimo v. Aloha Island Air, Inc. , 281 F.3d 1054, 1061 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). The court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Sluimer v. Verity, Inc. , 606 F.3d 584, 587 (9th Cir. 2010). "Summary judgment cannot be granted where contrary inferences may be drawn from the evidence as to material issues." Easter v. Am. W. Fin , 381 F.3d 948, 957 (9th Cir. 2004) (citation omitted). A "mere disagreement or bald assertion" that a genuine dispute as to a material fact exists "will not preclude the grant of summary judgment." Deering v. Lassen Cmty. Coll. Dist., No. 2:07-CV-1521-JAM-DAD , 2011 WL 202797, at *2 (E.D. Cal., Jan. 20, 2011) (citing Harper v. Wallingford , 877 F.2d 728, 731 (9th Cir. 1989)). When the nonmoving party's claims are factually implausible, that party must "come forward with more persuasive evidence than otherwise would be necessary." LVRC Holdings LLC v. Brekka , 581 F.3d 1127, 1137 (9th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). The substantive law governing a claim or a defense determines whether a fact is material. Miller v. Glenn Miller Prod., Inc. , 454 F.3d 975, 987 (9th Cir. 2006). If the resolution of a factual dispute would not affect the outcome of the claim, the court may grant summary judgment. Id.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff moves for summary judgment arguing that Claimant lacks standing to contest the forfeiture of the Defendant Currency because he is an unsecured.creditor who ...


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