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Boyd v. United States

United States District Court, District of Columbia

July 22, 2016

COURTNEY BOYD, Plaintiff, [1]
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          AMY BERMAN JACKSON United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on the defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint [ECF No. 11] and the Plaintiff’s Opposition to the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, with Request for Summary Judgment in Light of the Valid Claims Being Presented [ECF No. 14]. The Court will deny the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and construe the submission instead as an opposition to the defendants’ motion to dismiss. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss the complaint.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The plaintiff was one of seven criminal co-defendants prosecuted in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. See generally Mot. to Dismiss Pl.’s Compl. (“Defs.’ Mot.”), Ex. 1 (Indictment, United States v. Green, No. 4:06cr5 (E.D. Va. filed Jan. 11, 2006) (“Indictment”). The criminal case “arose from a largely family-based, years-long drug distribution network in which members of the conspiracy transported multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine by automobile from South Florida to the Tidewater Region of Virginia.” United States v. Green, 599 F.3d 360, 363 (4th Cir. 2010). The plaintiff faced charges of “drug conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and use of a [telephone] in furtherance of the drug conspiracy, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h), and 21 U.S.C. § 843, respectively.” Id.; see generally Indictment at 3-16 (Count Two).

         The co-defendants were also charged with utilizing “various ‘stash’ locations to receive, store, wrap, package, and distribute marijuana, cocaine, cocaine base, and drug proceeds” in furtherance of the conspiracy, Indictment at 7, including a location in Miramar, Florida, id. at 8, where the plaintiff was said to have delivered several kilograms of cocaine. See id. at 12-14. In addition, the co-defendants “conducted financial transactions affecting interstate commerce, ” such as wire transfers and “the purchase, lease, financing, transfer and sale of personal and investment properties, ” with funds derived from drug distribution in a manner “designed . . . to conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership, or control of the proceeds . . . of [their] unlawful activity.” Id. at 17. The indictment included a criminal forfeiture charge that, if the co-defendants were convicted of drug and money laundering conspiracies as charged in Counts Two and Three, certain property – including but not limited to the contents of two accounts at Washington Mutual Bank and real property in Williamsburg, Virginia and Miramar, Florida – was subject to forfeiture under 28 U.S.C. § 982(a)(1) and 21 U.S.C. § 853. See Indictment at 32-34.

         On August 30, 2007, “[t]he jury returned guilty verdicts on both counts submitted to them as to Boyd: drug conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.” Green, 599 F.3d at 363; see Defs.’ Mot., Ex. 2 (Criminal Docket for Case # 4:06-cr-00005) (Dkt. # 108). On December 7, 2007, “[t]he court sentenced [the plaintiff] to 360 months of imprisonment on the drug conspiracy count and 240 months of imprisonment on the money laundering conspiracy count, to be served concurrently, and a period of supervised release.” Green, 599 F.3d at 365; see Defs.’ Mot., Ex. 2 (Minute entry on 12/07/2007).

         On that same date, the sentencing court issued a Preliminary Order of Forfeiture directing forfeiture of the defendants’ interests in certain real and personal property to the United States. See generally Defs.’ Mot., Ex. 4 (Preliminary Order of Forfeiture, United States v. Boyd, No. 4:06cr5 (E.D. Va. filed Dec. 7, 2007)). The order directed the United States to publish notice of its intent to dispose of the property listed therein so that any person other than the plaintiff would have an opportunity to assert his or her interest in the property. See id., Ex. 4 at 4. No one filed a petition asserting an interest in the forfeited property before the time period for doing so had expired, and on November 6, 2008, the sentencing court issued its final order. See generally id., Ex. 5 (Final Order of Forfeiture, United States v. Boyd, No. 4:06cr5 (E.D. Va. filed Nov. 6, 2008)). The order noted the dates of publication of the Public Notice of Criminal Order of Forfeiture, and individuals believed to have had an interest in the forfeited property were notified in writing by certified mail. Id., Ex. 5 ¶¶ 3-4. The sentencing court subsequently amended its order to exclude one property in Miramar, Florida which erroneously had been forfeited to the United States. Id., Ex. 6 (Order Amending Final Order of Forfeiture Entered November 6, 2008, United States v. Boyd, No. 4:06cr5 (E.D. Va. filed Nov. 25, 2008)).

         The plaintiff alleges that the “defendants have violated [his] Fourth Amendment right[s] by illegally and unlawfully seizing his property[] without probable cause and by way of fraud and fraudulent concealment.” Compl. at 8. The property involved includes real estate in Florida and bank accounts. See id. at 9. The plaintiff also alleges that the “defendants violated [his] Fifth Amendment right to notice and [an] opportunity to be heard on [the] seizure and forfeiture of property[.]” Id. at 8. According to the plaintiff, the seizures came about “[o]n unknown dates” when “agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation[] . . . seized and/or placed liens on real property and bank accounts” belonging to him. Id. At no time, he alleges, did he receive a copy of a warrant, indictment, notice of a hearing or order of forfeiture. Id. at 9. For these alleged violations of constitutionally-protected rights, see id. at 8, the plaintiff brings this action against the United States of America, unknown agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and unknown Assistant United States Attorneys. Id. at 6-7. He demands a declaratory judgment, and the return of his property, or alternatively, “compensation for his property in the event [that] his property is not returned and/or cannot be returned.” Id. at 10.

         ANALYSIS

         I. Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(3) for Improper Venue

         The defendants move to dismiss the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) on the ground that venue in this district is improper. See generally Defs.’ Mot. at 7-9. Although the plaintiff was advised of the consequences of his failure to respond to the defendants’ motion, nowhere in his opposition does he address venue. “It is well understood in this Circuit that when a plaintiff files an opposition to a dispositive motion and addresses only certain arguments raised by the defendant, a court may treat those arguments that the plaintiff failed to address as conceded.” Hopkins v. Women’s Div., Gen. Bd. of Global Ministries, 284 F.Supp.2d 15, 25 (D.D.C. 2003); see Hardaway v. District of Columbia, No. 14-1273, 2015 WL 5138711, at *5 (D.D.C. Aug. 31, 2015), aff’d, No. 15-7095, 2016 WL 232009 (D.C. Cir. Jan. 4, 2016). In these circumstances, the Court treats the defendants’ motion to dismiss for improper venue as conceded. But even if the Court were to consider the merits of the argument, the defendants would prevail.

         “In considering a Rule 12(b)(3) motion, the court accepts the plaintiff’s well-pled factual allegations regarding venue as true, draws all reasonable inferences from those allegations in the plaintiff’s favor and resolves any factual conflicts in the plaintiff’s favor.” James v. Verizon Servs. Corp., 639 F.Supp.2d 9, 11 (D.D.C. 2009) (citations omitted). The defendants may prevail on their Rule 12(b)(3) motion by “present[ing] facts that will defeat the plaintiff’s assertion of venue.” Wilson v. Obama, 770 F.Supp.2d 188, 190 (D.D.C. 2011) (quoting Khalil v. L-3 Commc’ns Titan Grp., 656 F.Supp.2d 134, 135 (D.D.C. 2009)). However, as the defendants note, see Defs.’ Mot. at 8, the complaint sets forth no facts that would establish that the District of Columbia is an appropriate venue for adjudication of the plaintiff’s claims.

         If, as in this case, a defendant is an officer or employee of the United States, venue is proper in the place where he resides, or in the place where “a substantial part of the events . . . giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of the property that is the subject of the action is situated[.]” 28 U.S.C. § 1391(e)(1). Because the plaintiff does not identify the FBI agents and Assistant United States Attorneys allegedly responsible for the seizure of his property, the Court cannot determine whether any of these defendants can be found in the District of Columbia. None of the real property identified in the Indictment or subsequent sentencing court orders is located in the District of Columbia, and the complaint does not allege that any of the acts or omissions giving rise to the plaintiff’s claims occurred in this district. For these reasons, the motion to dismiss for lack of venue is well taken.

         II. Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(6) for ...


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