United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division
the Court is the Government's Amended Motion for Default
Judgment and for Final Order of Forfeiture. (Doc. No.
For the following reasons, the Government's motion is
March 23, 2018, the Government filed a Verified Complaint for
forfeiture in rem against Sixty-Three Pit Bull-Type Dogs (the
"Defendant Property"). (Doc. No. 1.)
notice of forfeiture was sent to James Lampkin; the Estate of
Fred Lee Jones, care of Rosemary Kilpatrick; and Natacha
Smith. (Cunningham Decl. 1 5.) Additionally, notice was
posted on the Government's website,
www.forfeiture.gov, on March 27, 2018. (Cunningham
Decl. 5 3.) To date, no person has filed an answer to the
Complaint or otherwise claimed the Defendant Property.
Clerk of the Court entered default against the Defendant
Property and any potential claimants on May 3, 2018. (Doc.
No. 7.) The Government now moves the Court to enter a default
judgment and final order of forfeiture against the Defendant
Property and any potential claimants. (Doc. No. 10.)
uncontested allegations of the Government's Verified
Complaint establish that the Defendant Property was used in
an animal fighting venture, and is therefore subject to
forfeiture pursuant to the Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C.
§ 2156(f). (Cunningham Decl., Doc. No. 6-1, 5 2.)
a default judgment is a two-step process: first, the
plaintiff must seek an entry of default from the clerk of
court; and second, after the clerk has made an entry of
default, the plaintiff can seek a default judgment."
U.S. v. Eleven Firearms, 2015 WL 4409664, at *1
(S.D. Ga. July 17, 2015).xxAn entry of default and
subsequent entry of default judgment are appropriate when a
party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is
sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend." U.S.
v. $11, 000.00 in U.S. Funds, 2009 WL 198013, at *2
(M.D. Ga. Jan. 27, 2009) (internal quotations omitted).
as here - the Government brings a civil forfeiture action in
rem under a federal statute, it must comply with Supplemental
Rules for Admiralty and Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture
Actions Rule G. See Fed. R. Civ. P., Supp. R. G(1)
("This Rule governs a forfeiture action in rem arising
from a federal statute.").
it appears the Government has complied with Supplemental Rule
G. First, the Complaint complies with Supplemental Rule G(2)
because (1) it was verified; (2) stated the grounds for
subject matter jurisdiction and venue; (3) described the
property with reasonable particularity; (4) stated the
property's location; (5) identified the statute under
which the forfeiture action was brought; and (6) stated
sufficient facts to support a reasonable belief that the
Government will be able to meet its burden of proof at
the Government complied with Supplemental Rule G(4)'s
notice requirements. The Government sent a notice of
forfeiture and a copy of the Verified Complaint to potential
claimants James Lampkin; the Estate of Fred Lee Jones; and
Natacha Smith. Fed. R. Civ. P., Supp. R. G(4)(b)(i), (iii)
("The government must send notice of the action and a
copy of the complaint to any person who reasonably appears to
be a potential claimant" and "notice must be sent
by means reasonably calculated to reach the potential
claimant."). Moreover, publication is not required
because the Defendant Property is worth less than $1, 000.00
and the direct notice was sent to every potential claimant
the Government could identify.
Rule G(5) gives any potential claimants thirty-five days to
make a claim if notice is sent directly and sixty-days if
notice is sent by publication. Here, because notice was sent
directly and publication is not required, any potential
claimant had thirty-five days from March 26, 2018, to make a
claim. See Fed. R. Civ. P., Supp. R. G(4)(a)(i).
Because the time for making such a claim has expired,
entering default judgment against all potential claimants to
the Defendant Property is appropriate.
due consideration, the Government's Amended Motion for
Default Judgment and for Final Order of Forfeiture (doc. no.
10) is GRANTED. It is hereby
1. The Defendant Property is hereby condemned and forfeited
to the United States of America, and all right title, claim
and interest to the Defendant Property by James Lampkin; the
Estate of Fred Lee Jones; and Natacha Smith, their heirs,
successors, and assigns and all ...