United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF UNITED STATES' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
JON P. McCALLA, District Judge.
Before the Court is Plaintiff United States' Amended Motion for Summary Judgment, filed January 9, 2015. (ECF No. 24.) For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's Amended Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.
A. Procedural History
This civil action in rem to forfeit property to the United States pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(4) is before the Court on Plaintiff's Complaint of Forfeiture, filed June 3, 2014 (ECF No. 1). On July 3, 2014, Victor Wright ("Claimant") filed an Answer. (ECF No. 13.)
Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on October 6, 2014. (ECF No. 19.) Claimant responded on October 30, 2014. (ECF No. 20.) On December 1, 2014, the Court denied without prejudice Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 21.) Plaintiff failed to support its factual claims with admissible evidence pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Id. at 9.)
On January 9, 2015, Plaintiff filed an Amended Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 24.) Claimant filed his Response in Opposition on January 26, 2014.)
B. Factual History
On April 3, 2014, a federal grand jury in the Western District of Tennessee returned an indictment charging Victor Wright and other individuals with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute Dilaudid and Oxycodone in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. (United States v. Wright, No. 14-20104-SHL-15 (W.D. Tenn.), ECF No. 4.) Wright pled guilty to both counts on November 18, 2014. ( Id., ECF No. 271.)
According to Plaintiff, on December 28, 2013, as part of a court-ordered Title III wiretap, DEA investigators intercepted a phone call between Wright and an alleged co-conspirator, charged in the same indictment. (Pl.'s Statement Material Facts ¶ 2, ECF No. 25.) Plaintiff contends that Wright indicated in the intercepted phone call that he would meet with the alleged co-conspirator in order to sell him quantities of Dilaudid and Oxycodone. (Id.) Plaintiff further asserts that officers on January 4, 2012, observed Wright in the driver's seat of the defendant vehicle, which they subsequently searched, finding 282 tablets of what was later determined to be Oxycodone and 480 tablets of what was later determined to be Dilaudid. (Id. ¶¶ 3-5.)
During his change of plea hearing, Claimant stipulated that Oxycodone and Dilaudid were found in a vehicle that he was driving on January 6, 2012, and that the drugs were being transported for the purpose of being sold to a co-defendant charged in the indictment. Claimant also contests, however, whether the officers legally searched the defendant vehicle. (ECF No. 26 at 6.)
II. LEGAL STANDARD
"The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); accord Haddad v. Alexander, Zelmanski, Danner & Fioritto, PLLC, 758 F.3d 777, 781 (6th Cir. 2014) (per curiam). "A fact is material' for purposes of summary judgment if proof of that fact would establish or refute an essential element of the cause of action or defense." Bruederle v. Louisville Metro Gov't, 687 F.3d 771, 776 (6th Cir. 2012). "A genuine dispute of material facts exists if there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party.'" Am. Copper & Brass, Inc. v. Lake City Indus. Prods., Inc., 757 F.3d 540, 543-44 (6th Cir. 2014) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986)).
"The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of any genuine issue of material fact." Mosholder v. Barnhardt, 679 F.3d 443, 448 (6th Cir. 2012) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). "In considering a motion for summary judgment, [the] court construes all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party." Robertson v. Lucas, 753 F.3d 606, 614 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)); see also Phelps v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 736 F.3d 697, 702 (6th Cir. 2012). "The central issue is whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.'" Phelps, 736 F.3d at 703 (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52). "[A] mere scintilla' of evidence in support of the non-moving party's position is ...