In this case, Sims knew — or at least should have known —
that his property was seized in 1989. See Bailey v. United States, No. 96
C 1405, 1996 WL 494270, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 27, 1996) (finding that the
statute of limitations for bringing a claim for unlawful seizure of
property accrues when the property is taken); see also Casas, 88 F. Supp.
2d at 862. Moreover, in his own motion, Sims claims that he was aware
that the property was seized between 1989 and 1992, although he claims
that he did not know he was entitled to its return until 1995.
Based upon the civil orders, the court finds that Sims had actual
notice of the forfeiture proceedings against the Rolls Royce and
approximately $325,000 in cash. Further, the court seriously doubts the
credibility of Sims's claim that he did not receive actual notice of the
forfeiture proceedings on the residences. In any event, the court finds
that Sims at the very least had constructive notice of the proceedings
and that Sims should have known of the civil forfeiture proceedings.
Thus, the statute of limitations for challenging the civil forfeiture of
the above-listed property accrued at the date of the forfeitures —
which was nearly ten years ago. Because the statute of limitations is six
years, Sims's current motion is untimely.
2. Administratively forfeited property
Sims also seeks the return of (1) one 1979 Lincoln limousine; (2) one
1972 Cadillac sedan; (3) one man's full-length mink coat; (4) one man's
full-length raccoon coat; (5) one man's full-length beaver coat; (6) gold
jewelry valued at $37,400; (7) one 1986 Cadillac Coupe convertible; and
(8) one 1987 Suzuki motorcycle. All of this property was administratively
forfeited by the DEA between October 4, 1989 and June 26, 1992. Again,
Sims claims that he did not receive notice of the forfeiture
First, the statute of limitations governing a motion for return of
property administratively forfeited is six years. Duke, 229 F.3d at 629
(citing 28 U.S.C. § 2401). The longest period of time that could
govern is the six-year catch-all for civil actions against the United
States as found in 28 U.S.C. § 2401. Casas, 1996 WL 494270, at *2
(citing Polanco, 158 F.3d at 653-54). Specifically, the Seventh Circuit
has adopted the holding in Polanco and found that a defendant's claim for
return of property, challenging the administrative forfeiture by the
DEA, is subject to a six-year statute of limitations. Duke, 229 F.3d at
In this case, the last piece of property was administratively forfeited
on June 26, 1992. Sims did not file his motion for return of property
until November, 1999. Therefore, on its face, Sims's motion is untimely.
However, Sims claims that he was denied due process because he did not
receive adequate notice of the forfeitures and, therefore, the statute
did not toll until 1995. The only question, therefore, is when that
statute of limitations began to run.
In the present case, the DEA claims that it sent out notice to the
owner of the property seized, identified as Sims. Further, notice was
published pursuant to the statutory regulations. See 19 U.S.C. § 1607.
In this case, the court finds that notice was adequate and reasonable.
Even if Sims did not know of the forfeiture, as he now claims, the
failure to actually receive notice does not invalidate the forfeiture.
Krecioch v. United States, No. 98 C 1121, 1998 WL 748333, at *3 (N.D.
Ill. Oct. 14, 1998) (finding that, when notice is mailed out, the DEA
cannot be held responsible for claimant's failure to actually receive the
Further, Sims was culpable for failing to discover that he had been
injured — that injury being the loss of property. See Duke, 229
F.3d at 630; see also Bailey v. United States, No. 96 C 1405, 1996 WL
494270, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 27, 1996) (finding that the defendant should
have known he was injured at the time the property — including
cash, a watch, a wallet, and a gun — was seized). First, in those
declarations of forfeiture drafted by
the DEA, Sims is listed as the
owner of the forfeited property. The declarations clearly state that the
owner was notified of the seizure. Further, the declarations also state
the notice was published pursuant to 19 U.S.C. § 1607. Sims admits
that he knew in 1989 that the property was seized. He cannot close his
eyes "to a known probability that he has been injured, even if he is not
certain." See Duke, 229 F.3d at 630. Thus, the statutes of limitations
accrued on the dates the property was administratively forfeited —
the last being on June 26, 1992. Because the statute of limitations is
six years, Sims's current motion is untimely.
3. Remaining property
For the remaining property, Sims does not identify any forfeiture
proceeding nor does the government provide any civil orders of forfeiture
or declarations of forfeiture for that property. While this property may
have been forfeited at some time, neither party offers any evidence of
the forfeiture and when it may have occurred.*fn3 It appears,
therefore, that Sims is trying to assert a civil claim against the United
States for taking his property. Such a claim is also untimely.
In order to bring a tort claim against the United States, Sims must
have first presented the claim to the appropriate federal agency within
two years after the claim accrued. 28 U.S.C. § 2401; see also
Bailey, 1996 WL 494270, at *2. Sims has not offered any assertion that he
has done this. Further, any claim against the United States is also
subject to a six-year statute of limitations. 28 U.S.C. § 2401(a).
Sims admits in his motion that all of the property was seized between
1989 and 1992. Thus, Sims's claim accrued on December 31, 1992, at the
very latest, as he knew or should have know that he was injured by that
date. See Bailey, 1996 WL 494270, at *2. In order to bring this action,
Sims would have had to file it by December 31, 1998. Accordingly, Sims's
current motion, originally filed on November 12, 1999, is untimely.
In sum, it appears that Sims was on (1) actual notice for at least some
of the property (a reasonable inference given his claim filed in a civil
proceeding for the Rolls Royce and approximately $325,000 in cash); (2)
constructive notice of the forfeiture of property for which the
government has accounted (the consequence of the publication of notice
and notice being mailed to the owner, Sims); and (3) inquiry notice for
all of the property (as he claims that he was aware of the property being
seized since 1989 and the administrative forfeiture orders presented by
the government state that the owner — identified as Sims —
was notified of the forfeiture proceeding). See Sanchez v. United
States, No. 95 C 4836, 1995 WL 769297, at *2-3 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 29,
1995). Thus, Sims's current claim — subject to a six-year statute
of limitation — accrued when the property was seized or forfeited.
Accordingly, the court denies Sims's motion for return of property as
For the foregoing reasons, the court denies Sims's motion for return of