United States District Court, D. Delaware
Charles M. Oberly, III and Lesley F. Wolf, U.S.
ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Wilmington, DE Attorneys for
P. Deckers, JOHN P. DECKERS, ESQ., Wilmington, DE Attorney
U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Shawn Baker's motion to dismiss. For
the following reasons, the Court will deny the motion.
16, 2015, the Drug Enforcement Administration
("DEA") seized $614, 338.00 from Shawn Baker during
a traffic stop. (See D.L 1 at ¶¶ 4-14;
D.I. 16-1 at 8) The DEA subsequently initiated an
administrative forfeiture action as required by the Civil
Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000, 18 U.S.C. § 983,
providing notice of seizure to Baker, dated August 10, 2015.
(See D.L 16-1 at 8) Baker submitted a claim of
ownership under 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(2), which was
received by the DEA on August 31, 2015. (See Id. at
10-11, 16) As relevant here, Baker swore under penalty of
perjury that he "is the lawful owner of said Property
and/or possessed the Property with the knowledge and consent
of another person." (Id. at 11-12) The DEA,
however, notified Baker by letter dated September 21, 2015,
that his claim was defective for failing to properly state
his interest in the property. (See Id. at 19) The
letter indicated that a "[c]laimant may not state
his/her interest in the alternative, " and provided
Baker twenty days to cure the noted deficiency. (Id.
October 12, 2015, Baker submitted a revised claim, which
removed the and/or language and stated that he "owned
and obtained and possessed the Property with the knowledge
and consent of another person." (Id. at 31)
Baker also commented that his "submission of a revised
claim form ... is not an admission by Claimant that the
initial claim filed by him on August 26, 2015 .. . was
legally defective." (Id. at 28) Baker
maintained that his earlier claim "comports with the
law, specifically 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(2)(C)(ii), and [the
DEA] has failed to provide legal authority to state
otherwise." (Id.) But Baker nevertheless
supplied the revised documents "to expedite the
processing of this claim." (Id.) The DEA
received the claim on October 13, 2015. (Id. at 33)
actions in this Court relate to the DEA's seizure of
Baker's currency. On December 15, 2015, Baker filed a
motion under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41(g),
seeking return of $616, 366.00 - the amount of currency at
issue here plus the $2, 028 that has now been returned to
Baker. (See 15-mc-338-LPS D.I. 1) In that motion,
Baker argued that the United States failed to file a civil
judicial complaint within 90 days of receiving his claim, as
required by 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(3)(A). (Id. at
¶ 4) Baker contended that the relevant date from which
to measure 90 days is August 31, 2015, the date the DEA
received his first claim, which the DEA deemed defective.
(Id. at ¶ 3)
United States filed the complaint in the present case on
December 22, 2015, seeking forfeiture of the seized currency,
within the 90-day period starting from the date of
Baker's second claim. (D.I. 1 at ¶ 1) Because the
two actions concern the same seized currency, Baker
stipulated to dismissing without prejudice the first action
(see 15-mc-338-LPS D.I. 8), "[f]or purposes of
judicial economy only" (D.I. 16 at 4).
a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) requires the Court to accept as true all material
allegations of the complaint. See Spruill v. Gillis,
372 F.3d 218, 223 (3d Cir. 2004). "The issue is not
whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the
claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the
claims." In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec.
Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1420 (3d Cir. 1997) (internal
quotation marks omitted). Thus, the Court may grant such a
morion to dismiss only if, after "accepting all
well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, and
viewing them in the light most favorable to plaintiff,
plaintiff is not entitled to relief." Maio v. Aetna,
Inc., 221 F.3d 472, 481-82 (3d Cir. 2000) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
"[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a civil plaintiff
must allege facts that 'raise a right to relief above the
speculative level on the assumption that the allegations in
the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).'"
Victaulic Co. v. Tieman, 499 F.3d 227, 234 (3d Cir.
2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible "when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). At bottom, "[t]he complaint
must state enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation
that discovery will reveal evidence of [each] necessary
element" of a plaintiff s claim. Wilkerson v. New
Media Tech. Charter School Inc., 522 F.3d 315, 321 (3d
Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Court is not obligated to accept as true "bald
assertions, " Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist.,132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks
omitted), "unsupported conclusions and unwarranted
inferences, " Schuylkill Energy Res., Inc. v. Pa.
Power & Light Co.,113 F.3d 405, 417 (3d Cir. 1997),
or allegations that are ...