United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Rock Island Division
DARROW, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are the United States' ("the
Government") Motion to Strike Claim and Answer Filed by
Terrill McDuffy and For Entry of Default, ECF No. 33, the
Government's Motion to Strike Claim and Answer Filed by
Algerron Goldsmith, Sr. and for Entry of Default, ECF No. 35,
the Government's Motion to Strike Claim Filed by Demarlo
McCoy and for Entry of Default, ECF No. 19, the
Government's Motion to Strike Claim and Answer Filed by
Sherrick Houston, ECF No. 40, the Government's Motion to
Strike Claim Filed by Andre Lidell and for Entry of Default,
ECF No. 41, Motion of Disposition by Claimant Terrill
McDuffy, ECF No. 31, Motions for Hearing by Algerron
Goldsmith, Sr, ECF No. 30, and Terrill McDuffy, ECF No. 32,
and the Government's Motion to Dismiss Eight Seized Dogs
as Defendants, ECF No. 34. For the following reasons, the
Government's motions are GRANTED. The Claimants'
motions for hearing, ECF No. 30 and ECF No. 32, are MOOT.
McDuffy's Motion of Disposition, ECF No. 31, is DENIED.
April 14, 2016, the United States Marshals seized sixty four
pit bull type dogs as a result of an investigation into a
dog-fighting operation. Terrill McDuffy, Algerron Goldsmith,
Sr., Demarlo McCoy, Sherrick Houston, and Andre Lidell were
residents at the locations from which the dogs were
McDuffy filed a claim on May 13, 2016 stating that he had not
participated in any dog-fighting, and requesting that his
“listed item[s], ” including nine pit bull type
dogs be returned to him. McDuffy's Claim, ECF No. 11. The
claim was not verified by oath or affirmation, nor was it
served on the appropriate attorney for the United States.
Id. McDuffy filed an answer on June 7, 2016,
McDuffy's Ans. 2-3, ECF No. 22, denying all allegations
in the Verified Complaint pertaining to him, though his
answer was not served on the appropriate attorney for the
United States. Mot. Strike McDuffy's Pleadings 7, ECF No.
33. Subsequently, one of the nine seized dogs died at the
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
(“ASPCA”), id. at 3, and another,
Brownie, was the subject of this Court's previous order
allowing the ASPCA to humanely euthanize him due to severe
behavioral problems and reduction in his quality of life.
Dec. 2, 2016 Order on Mot. Disposition, ECF No. 28. The
remaining defendant dogs seized from McDuffy's residence
are: IL-11D-G1; IL-11D-G2; IL-11D-F1; IL-11D-F2; IL-11D-F4;
Goldsmith, Sr. filed an unverified claim on May 18, 2016,
requesting that four dogs and a variety of items seized from
his residence be returned to him. Goldsmith's Claim, ECF
No. 15. The seized dogs included: IL-4E-01; IL-4E-02;
IL-4E-03, and IL-4E-04. Mot. Strike Goldsmith Claim and Ans.
2, ECF No. 35. On June 7, 2016, Goldsmith filed an unsigned
answer. Goldsmith's Ans., ECF No. 20. In it, he denied
all of the allegations in the Complaint that pertained to
him. Id. Goldsmith did not serve his answer on an
attorney for the United States.
McCoy filed a claim on May 17, 2016, requesting his
“things back.” McCoy's Claim, ECF No. 14. The
claim was not verified by oath or affirmation, id.,
nor was it served on the appropriate attorney for the United
States. Mot. Strike McCoy's Claim 5, ECF No. 39. Two pit
bull type dogs were seized from McCoy's residence: one
brindle male, IL-10C-01, and one black female, IL-10C-02.
Mot. Strike McCoy's Claim 2. One of those dogs, the
brindle male named Taz, was the subject of this Court's
previous order allowing humane euthanasia by the ASPCA. Dec.
2, 2016 Order on Mot. Disposition. McCoy has not filed an
Houston filed an unverified claim on May 10, 2016.
Houston's Claim, ECF No. 9. Houston did not sign the
claim under penalty of perjury and did not serve the claim on
any government attorney. Id. In addition to several
items including digital cameras, cell phones, and a
“rape stand” used for breeding dogs, Houston
claimed “one [white and tan] male pit bull” and
“one [black] female pitbull.” Houston's
Claim. The Government identifies the dogs respectively as
IL3A01 and IL3A02. Mot. Strike Houston's Claim Ans., ECF
No. 40. Houston filed an answer on June 7, 2016.
Houston's Ans., ECF No. 21. Houston denied all
allegations pertaining to him. See id.
Lindell filed his unverified claim on May 16, 2016.
See Lindell's Claim, ECF No. 13, requesting that
the “attached items” be returned to him; none of
the defendant dogs were listed on the attached FBI property
receipt. Id. Ten pit bull type dogs were seized from
Lindell's residence: three adult males (IL8B02, IL8B04,
IL8B07); four adult females (IL8B01, IL8B03, IL8B05, IL8B06),
and three puppies (IL8B08, IL8B09, IL8B10). One of the dogs
gave birth to puppies after seizure, five of which survived.
Mot. Strike Lidell's Claim 3, ECF No. 41.
Government provided notice of the action and served Verified
Complaints by certified mail and U.S. mail to McDuffy,
Goldsmith, McCoy, Houston, and Lindell (hereinafter,
“the Claimants”). See Notice of Civil
Forfeiture Action, ECF No. 3. Notice of the action included
instructions for filing a timely claim and answer and the
name of the government attorney on whom those pleadings
should be served. Id. at 2. The Government published
notice of the forfeiture on the official government website,
www.forfeiture.gov, as required by Rule
G(4)(a)(iv)(C). Declaration of Publication 5, ECF No. 23. The
last publication occurred on June 22, 2016. Id.
Government, citing procedural deficiencies, now moves for the
Court to strike the pleadings filed by the Claimants. It
further moves for the Court to enter default against six of
the defendant dogs seized from McDuffy's residence, four
defendant dogs seized from Goldsmith's residence, the one
remaining defendant dog seized from McCoy's residence,
two dogs seized from Houston's residence, and ten
defendant dogs seized from Lindell's residence.
Additionally, the Government seeks to dismiss eight more
dogs, including the deceased dog seized from McDuffy's
residence. Goldsmith and McDuffy have both filed motions
requesting hearings. ECF Nos. 30, 32.
Motions to Strike Pleadings and Enter Default