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United States of America v. Fifteen Thousand Eight Hundred Forty and 00/100 Dollars ($15

November 15, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FIFTEEN THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED FORTY AND 00/100 DOLLARS ($15,840.00) IN UNITED STATES CURRENCY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Elizabeth A. Preston Deavers United States Magistrate Judge

Judge George C. Smith Magistrate Judge E.A. Preston Deavers

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Second Motion to Strike Answer of Matthew Hughes Pursuant to Supplemental Rule G(8)(c). (ECF No. 21.) Mr. Hughes has not responded to Plaintiff's Motion. For the reasons that follow, it is RECOMMENDED that Plaintiff's Motion be GRANTED.

On September 30, 2011, the Court issued an Opinion and Order denying Plaintiff's first Motion to Strike and granting the Motion for Leave to File a Claim Instanter of Matthew Hughes.*fn1 At that time, the Court noted that there appeared to be deficiencies in Mr. Hughes' Claim and granted Mr. Hughes seven days in which to amend either his Claim or Answer. The Court cautioned Mr. Hughes that he must strictly comply with the Supplemental Rules for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims. Mr. Hughes failed to amend either his Claim or Answer. Plaintiff, thereafter, filed the instant Motion.

In order to have statutory standing to contest the government's forfeiture action, a claimant must file a claim in compliance with the requirements of Rule G(5) of the Supplemental Rules for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims. United States v. One Men's Rolex Pearl Master Watch, 357 F. App'x 624, 627 (6th Cir. 2009). Pursuant to Supplemental Rule G(8), the Court may strike a claim or answer "(A) for failing to comply with Rule G(5) or (6), or (B) because the claimant lacks standing." Accordingly, the Court may strike the Answer of a claimant who fails to file a claim in compliance of Rule G(5). See United States v. Thirty-Five Firearms, 123 F. App'x 204, 206 (6th Cir. 2005) ("When a claimant files an answer but has not timely filed a verified claim, the court may strike the answer.").

Supplemental Rule G(5) provides in pertinent part: (5) Responsive Pleadings.

(a) Filing a Claim.

(i) A person who asserts an interest in the defendant property may contest the forfeiture by filing a claim in the court where the action is pending. The claim must:

(A) identify the specific property claimed;

(B) identify the claimant and state the claimant's interest in the property;

(C) be signed by the claimant under penalty of perjury; and

(D) be served on the government attorney designated under Rule G(4)(a)(ii)(C) or (b)(ii)(D).

Fed. R. Civ. P. Supp. R. G(5) (emphasis added).

In this case, Plaintiff's June 10, 2011 fails to comply with the requirements of Rule G(5). For example, Mr. Hughes failed to make his purported claim under penalty of perjury and did not actually sign the document. See Fox v. Brown Memorial Home, Inc., 2:09-CV-915, 2010 WL 4983153, at *1 (S.D. Ohio Dec. 2, 2010) (rejecting, pursuant to this Court's local rules, the electronic signature of a non-attorney in the context of a ...


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