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United States v. Firearm Springfield Armory Pistol

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

April 27, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ONE SPRINGFIELD ARMORY PISTOL, SN S3153418; ONE KIMBER ULTRA RAPTOR II PISTOL, CALIBER 45, SN KU265526; ONE NEW FRONTIER ARMORY LW-15 RIFLE, CALIBER 223, SN NLV73012; Defendants in rem.

          ORDER GRANTING GOVERNMENT'S MOTION FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT JUDGMENT AND FINAL ORDER OF FORFEITURE AGAINST ALL INTERESTED PARTIES AS TO DEFENDANTS IN REM [#12]

          Denise Page Hood Chief Judge.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On June 30, 2016, the Government filed a Complaint for Forfeiture against Defendants in rem One Springfield Armory Pistol, SN: S3153418; One Kimber Ultra Raptor II Pistol, caliber 45, SN: KU265526; and One New Frontier Armory LW-15 Rifle, caliber 223 SN: NLV73012 claiming that Defendant in rem are forfeitable to the United States of America because they were involved in or used in knowing violations of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). (Doc # 1) Defendants in rem were seized on or about February 1, 2016 in Southfield, Michigan by Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”) from Alan Justice.

         The Court issued a Warrant of Arrest, and Notice In Rem for each Defendant in rem on June 30, 2016. (Doc # 2; Doc # 3; Doc # 4) The Government provided proof of service of the Complaint in Forfeiture and the Warrants of Arrest and Notices In Rem made upon Jason Justice, Stephanie Justice, and Alan Justice. (Doc # 5, filed July 1, 2016) On September 26, 2016, the Government filed a Declaration of Publication indicating that Notice of Civil Forfeiture was posted on an official government internet site for at least 30 consecutive days beginning on July 8, 2016. (Doc # 6) The Government provided proof of service of the Complaint in Forfeiture and the Warrants of Arrest and Notices In Rem made upon Stephanie Justice and Debra Justice. (Doc # 7, filed October 31, 2016)

         On November 1, 2016, having received no claim to Defendants in rem, an answer, or any other responsive pleading, the Government requested a Clerk's Entry of Default against all interested parties with respect to Defendants in rem. (Doc # 8) On November 1, 2016, the Clerk entered Default as to all Defendants. (Doc # 10) On November 4, 2016, the Government filed the instant Motion for Entry of Default Judgment and Final Order of Forfeiture Against All Interested Parties as to the Defendants In Rem with an accompanying Affidavit. (Doc # 11; Doc # 12) The Court held a hearing on December 14, 2016. To date, no interested party has filed a claim, answer, or response, or otherwise appeared.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Standard of Review

         An Entry of Default under Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is the first procedural step necessary to obtain a default judgment. Shepard Claims Serv. Inc. v. Williams Darrah & Assoc., 796 F.2d 190, 193 (6th Cir. 1986). “When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk must enter the party's default.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). A default judgment may be entered by the clerk when the plaintiff's claim is for a sum certain or a sum which can be made certain, and the defendant is not an infant or an incompetent person. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(1). The court may conduct an accounting, determine amount of damages, establish the truth of any allegations by evidence, or investigate any other matter. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2).

         B. Default Judgment

         The Court finds that the Government has met the requirements under the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions, including filing the civil forfeiture complaint, sending direct notice to persons who reasonably appear to be potential claimants, and publishing notice of the forfeiture action. See Fed. R. Civ. P. Supp. R. G; Doc # 9. The time for any interested party to file a claim for Defendants in rem has now expired. See Fed. R. Civ. P. Supp. R. G(5). No interested party has filed a claim, answer, or response. The Government has filed an Affidavit indicating that, based on an investigation conducted by ATF, it is informed and believes that potential claimants Alan Justice, Jason Justice, Stephanie Justice, and Debra Justice are not minors, incompetent persons, or in the military service of the United States. (Doc # 11) A Clerk's Entry of Default was entered on November 1, 2016. (Doc # 10)

         Plaintiffs now seek a default judgment under Rule 55. Plaintiffs submitted proof of service indicating that potential claimants were served with the Clerk's Entry of Default, the Government's instant Motion, and the Proposed Default Judgment and Final Order of Forfeiture. (Doc # 13) The Clerk served the Notice of Hearing on the Motion for Default Judgment. (Doc # 14) The Court grants the Government's Motion for Entry of Default Judgment and Final Order of Forfeiture Against All Interested Parties as to the Defendants In Rem.

         III. CONCLUSION

         For the reasons set forth above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Government's Motion for Entry of Default Judgment and Final Order of Forfeiture Against All Interested ...


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