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United States v. One Nissan Skyline

United States District Court, C.D. California

June 3, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ONE NISSAN SKYLINE

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL PROCEEDINGS (IN CHAMBERS): ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT [15]

DAVID O. CARTER, District Judge.

Before the Court is Plaintiff United States of America's Motion for Default Judgment Against the Interests of William Norman, Yoshimitsu Yuasu, and All Other Potential Claimants ("Motion") (Dkt. 15). For the reasons explained below, the Court GRANTS the Motion.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

In 2008, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") began an investigation into Daryl Alison ("Mr. Alison"), concerning the possible illegal importation of Nissan Skylines ("Skylines"), a line of compact cars, into Long Beach, California. Compl. (Dkt. 1) ¶ 13. The Skylines were not made to meet United States motor vehicle standards and importing them to the United States is illegal. Id.

ICE determined that Mr. Alison arranged to have non-compliant vehicles disassembled in Japan and then have new vehicle identification numbers placed on them. Id. ¶ 14. The different pieces of the Skylines would then be shipped separately to the United States. Id.

Mr. Alison worked with Yoshimitsu Yuasa ("Mr. Yuasa"), who assisted with the illegal importations. Id. ¶ 15. Mr. Yuasa owned Quick Garage, Inc. in Japan and U.S. Quick Garage, Inc. in the United States. Id. U.S. Quick Garage, Inc. was based in Orange, California. Id.

On June 4, 2009, ICE agents executed a search warrant at one of Mr. Alison's car businesses in Costa Mesa, California. Id. ¶ 16. During the execution of the warrant, ICE agents discovered documentation indicating that a Skyline vehicle (the "Skyline") was sold to William Norman ("Mr. Norman") of Houston, Texas. Id. The Skyline was scheduled to be delivered to Mr. Norman at his residential address. Id.

On December 22, 2010, pursuant to a federal seizure warrant, the Skyline was seized from Mr. Norman's Houston, Texas residence. Id. ¶ 22. Examination of the vehicle revealed that it had been modified with a fake vehicle identification number and manufacturer plates. Id.

On October 22, 2013, the United States of America (the "Government") filed this civil forfeiture action, asserting that the Skyline constitutes illegally smuggled merchandise under 18 U.S.C. § 545 and is subject to civil forfeiture under 19 U.S.C. § 1595a. Id. ¶¶ 28, 29.

B. Procedural History

After the Government filed the Complaint, it executed process upon the Skyline. Decl. of Frank D. Kortum ("Kortum Decl.") Ex. A. Notice of Civil Forfeiture was posted on an official government site, www.forfeiture.gov, for at least thirty consecutive days. Id. Ex. B.

Based on the Government's files and records, the known potential claimants are Mr. Norman and Mr. Yuasa. Id. ¶ 2d. On October 29, 2013, notice and a copy of the complaint were mailed by certified mail to Mr. Norman at his last known address. Id. Ex. C. The certified mail was returned and marked "unclaimed." Id. A claim letter to Mr. Norman's attorney, Elon Pollack, indicates that the claim letter was received and accepted. Id. Ex. D.

On February 13, 2014, the Government sent notice and a copy of the complaint to both Mr. Yuasa's last known United States and Japan addresses. Id. The mail sent to the Japanese address was returned as "refused." Id. The mail sent to the ...


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