United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
In re Seizure of $100, 622.44 in U.S. Currency
United States of America, Respondent. Darius Khoshnevis, Movant,
Steven Whalen Mag. Judge
OPINION AND ORDER DECLINING TO EXERCISE EQUITABLE
JURISDICTION AND DISMISSING CASE
E. LEVY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a suit for the return of seized property. Respondent United
States of America is currently in possession of over $100,
000 of U.S. currency seized from Movant Darius Khoshnevis.
Khoshnevis filed this complaint seeking to invoke the
Court's equitable jurisdiction and the return of funds.
Because criminal proceedings against Khoshnevis are now
ongoing, this action is more appropriately brought in his
criminal case. Khoshnevis has an adequate remedy at law, and
the Court declines to exercise its equitable jurisdiction
here. The case is dismissed without prejudice.
around October 31, 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration
(DEA) seized at least $100, 622.44 in U.S. currency from
Movant Darius Khoshnevis-$4, 300 from Khoshnevis'
residence on Allspice Drive and $96, 322.44 from two of
Khoshnevis' bank accounts. (ECF No. 4, PageID.53.)
Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 outlines the
parties' rights and responsibilities with respect to the
seized currency. Pub. L. 106-185, 114 Stat. 202 (2000). For
almost a year, events proceeded as set forth by statute.
Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(1)(A)(i), the DEA
provided Khoshnevis with a Notice of Seizure to Khoshnevis
for the funds on December 18 (bank accounts) and December 21,
2018 (Allspice residence). (ECF No. 4, PageID.53; ECF
No.4-2.) Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(2), Khoshnevis
filed a Claim of Interest for the funds on January 16, 2019.
On each of April 2, 2019, June 13, 2019, and July 11, 2019,
the parties agreed, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §
983(a)(3)(A), to extend the Government's deadline to
either file a complaint for forfeiture pursuant to 18 U.S.C.
§ 983(a)(3)(B) or return the property. (ECF No. 4,
PageID.54.) The Government's last deadline was August 9,
Government took no action with respect to forfeiture on or
before its August 9 deadline. On August 27, 2019, Khoshnevis
filed a Rule 41(g) Initiating Motion for the Immediate Return
of the $100, 622.44. (ECF No. 1). Khoshnevis failed to serve
the United States. After discussion between the Court and the
parties, Khoshnevis filed a Complaint for Equitable Relief
and Amended Motion for Return of Property on October 10,
2019. (ECF Nos. 3, 4.)
November 26, 2019, a grand jury indicted Khoshnevis for
conspiracy and manufacture of, possession of, and possession
with intent to distribute a controlled substance under 21
U.S.C. §§ 841 and 846. United States v.
Khoshnevis, No. 19-20778 (E.D. Mich. Nov. 26, 2019), ECF
No. 1. The indictment includes forfeiture allegations under
21 U.S.C. §§ 853 and 2461(c). (Id. at
PageID.5.) On December 4, 2019, the Government filed in
Khoshnevis' criminal case a Notice of First Forfeiture
Bill of Particulars that includes all of the seized currency.
Id. at ECF No. 5.
Rule of Criminal Procedure Rule 41(g) provides that “a
person aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure of
property or by the deprivation of property may move for the
property's return.” When there are no criminal
proceedings against the movant, a court may exercise its
civil equitable jurisdiction over a Rule 41(g) motion.
See United States v. Search of Music City Mktg.,
Inc., 212 F.3d 920, 923 (6th Cir. 2000). Civil equitable
jurisdiction is discretionary; a court should exercise it
only with “caution and restraint.” $8, 050.00
in U.S. Currency v. United States, 307 F.Supp.2d 922,
925 (N.D. Ohio 2004) (citing Floyd v. United States,
860 F.2d 999 (10th Cir. 1988)). Four factors guide the
analysis of whether equity demands the Court exercise
(1) whether the Government displayed a callous disregard for
the constitutional rights of the movant; (2) whether the
movant has an individual interest in and need for the
property [they] want returned; (3) whether the movant would
be irreparably injured by denying return of the property; and
(4) whether the movant has an adequate remedy at law for the
redress of [their] grievance.
See In re Search of 32900 Five Mile Rd., Nos.
13-50293, 15-50512, WL 3742589, at *4 (E.D. Mich., June 15,
2015) (citing Ramsden v. United States, 2 F.3d 322,
325 (9th Cir. 1993)).
adequate remedy at law exists, the fourth factor is
dispositive: a movant is not entitled to equitable relief,
and a court must decline to exercise jurisdiction. See
Brown v. United States, 692 F.3d 550, 552 (6th Cir.
2012) (claimant not entitled to equitable remedy in 41(g)
motion when adequate remedy at law exists); Shaw v.
United States, 891 F.2d 602, 603 (6th Cir. 1989)
(“Under standard equity doctrine, where there is an
adequate remedy at law it must be pursued.”).