Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

UNITED STATES v. ONE HELICOPTER

August 8, 1991

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ONE HELICOPTER, Defendant


George W. Lindberg, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: LINDBERG

GEORGE W. LINDBERG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 Plaintiff, United States of America, and defendant One Helicopter, by claimant Daniel M. Bonnetts, have filed cross motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff filed a two count complaint against One Helicopter seeking forfeiture of the helicopter (U.S. Registration N277ST) pursuant to 49 U.S.C.App. § 1472(b)(3). The first count charged claimant with operation of an unregistered helicopter in violation of 49 U.S.C.App. § 1472 (b)(1)(C). The second count charged claimant with allowing unlawful operation of the helicopter by an individual who failed to possess a valid airman certificate, in violation of 49 U.S.C.App. § 1472(b)(1)(E).

 Facts

 Pursuant to a lease-purchase agreement claimant took possession of the helicopter in November 1989. On December 14, 1989, the purchase price was paid in full and seller James Panoff executed a bill of sale. The claimant conducted a title search which, on June 8, 1990, revealed a lien. The lien was later proven to be a mistake. However, upon learning of the lien claimant decided not to register the helicopter as required by 49 U.S.C.App. § 1401(a). On August 3, and August 6, 1990, claimant allowed Richard Randazzo to fly the helicopter. On October 16, 1990 the Drug Enforcement Administration seized the helicopter. The government filed the complaint alleging probable cause to seize and forfeit the aircraft in November of 1990. After the lien was revealed to be a mistake the helicopter was registered by the claimant as owner on January 10, 1991.

 Summary Judgment

 In cross motions both parties have requested summary judgments alleging that no genuine issues of material fact exist. Summary judgment should be rendered:

 
If the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

 FRCP 56(c). Under the rules governing summary judgment, the moving party bears the burden of establishing that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S. Ct. 1598, 26 L. Ed. 2d 142 (1970). A court in ruling on a motion for summary judgment will draw all reasonable inferences from the facts favorable to the non-moving party. Hermes v. Hein, 742 F.2d 350, 353 (7th Cir. 1984). As the 7th Circuit has said:

 
The summary judgment standard "mirrors the standard for a directed verdict under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(a), which is that the trial judge must direct a verdict if, under the governing law, there can be but one reasonable conclusion as to the verdict." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986).

 In an in rem action for forfeiture, the applicable statute incorporates the procedures of the customs laws. 49 U.S.C.App. § 1472 (b)(3)(A). Under 19 U.S.C. § 1615, the government has the burden of proving probable cause. Having done so, the burden shifts to claimant to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that defendant helicopter is not subject to forfeiture. United States v. Fleming, 677 F.2d 602, 609 (7th Cir. 1982).

 Count I

 Count I of the complaint alleges claimant's permitting a helicopter, unregistered as required by 49 U.S.C.App. § 1401, to be operated on August 3 and 6, 1990, in violation of 49 U.S.C.App. § 1472(b)(1)(C), which imposes criminal sanctions. The pertinent portion of § 1472(b)(1)(C) provides:

 
It shall be unlawful for any person who is the owner of an aircraft eligible for registration under section 1401 of this Appendix, to knowingly and willfully operate, . . . or permit any other person to operate such aircraft if such aircraft is not registered under ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.