Jenkins v. United States, No. 22-1378 (Fed. Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Jenkins purchased a 1987 Oldsmobile and a 2001 Chevrolet and transferred the titles to his mother, Buchanan, retaining exclusive use of both vehicles. The DEA, investigating Jenkins for drug conspiracy crimes, seized the vehicles, which were towed to an impound lot. The DEA obtained a search warrant, which was executed in October 2012. In April 2013, Jenkins pled guilty and was sentenced to 252 months of imprisonment. In October, the impound lot sent letters to the address on file for Buchanan notifying her that the vehicles could be reclaimed upon payment of towing and storage charges. Buchanan did not receive the letters, having moved. No letter was addressed to Jenkins. Jenkins acknowledged that he “was informed" to pick up the vehicles. In February 2014, the impound lot sent final notices to Buchanan, who was incarcerated, then sold the vehicles, retaining the proceeds.
In 2017, Jenkins moved in his criminal case for the return of the cars (FRCP 41(g)). The government responded that the cars “are available for return.” The court dismissed the motion. In 2019, Jenkins unsuccessfully sought monetary compensation in excess of $10,000, then filed a civil action under the Little Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. 1346(a)(2), alleging a physical taking of his vehicles.
The Sixth Circuit vacated summary judgment. While the government’s police power may preclude liability for an initial seizure, there is no police power exception that precludes takings liability for the period after the property is not needed for criminal proceedings. The court noted a factual issue of abandonment and affirmed the dismissal of the due process clause for lack of jurisdiction, without prejudice.