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Chicago IP Litigation Tracking Northern District of Illinois IP Cases

Federal Rules Do Not Authorize Civil Search and Seizure

Posted in Trial

Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. Montrose Wholesale Candies & Sundries, Inc., No. 03 C 5311 & 0844, 2008 WL 954161 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 8, 2008) (Cole, Mag. J.).

Judge Cole denied plaintiff’s motion for inspection and seizure of assets in its trademark counterfeiting case. The Court previously entered judgment for plaintiff – click here for more about this case in the Blog’s archives. Plaintiff brought this motion seeking to identify and seize cash, checks and other financial instruments to satisfy the judgment. The Court held that the motion essentially sought a search warrant directed by plaintiff and utilizing Federal Marshals:

The reality is that the motion is tantamount to a request for a search warrant for Lorillard to enter and search the home of Ray and Sandra Hazemi and the business premises of Montrose Wholesale Candies and Sundries, Inc. (which is owned by them) and for permission to seize any cash, checks or other negotiable instruments belonging to the Hazemis and Montrose and to seize or at least copy all of their financial and accounting records. Nothing in the Motion, itself, suggests that the search and seizure will be accomplished by anyone other than Lorillard. It is not until one looks at the Proposed Order granting the motion that there is even a motion of United States Marshals. But even then, it is Lorillard, through its counsel of record, who is to carry out the search and seizure. The Marshals are merely to accompany Lorillard.

The Court held that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure did not authorize search warrants. The Court further held that the request was not like a seizure of counterfeit goods, which was authorized by 15 U.S.C. § 1116(d)(1)(A), because it sought a post-judgment search to satisfy a judgment.