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Leitner v. Lahood

June 16, 2010

MARK DANIEL LEITNER, PETITIONER,
v.
RAY LAHOOD, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles J. Siragusa United States District Judge

DECISION & ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Siragusa, J. Before the Court is Mark Daniel Leitner's ("Leitner") "Notice of Claim of Maritime Lien" filed on June 3, 2010, against eight "vessels." For the reasons stated below, the Court determines that the Notice of Claim has not properly been filed and directs the Clerk to close this miscellaneous proceeding without a lien.

BACKGROUND

Petitioner has filed eight Notices of Claim of Maritime Lien. Each identifies a different vessel, but all refer to an Affidavit of Specific Negative Averment, described below, and the basis for the lien. The first claim identifies a vessel named "U.S. M/V JONATHAN RICHARD MARX" with a unique identifier of "SSN: 246-43-2438, North Carolina Bar NO. 35428." (Docket No. 1, at 1.) The alleged owner is "RAY LAHOOD, US Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE, W ashington, DC 10590." (Id.) No allegation is made that the vessel or its owner is present in the Western District of New York. The amount sought is "FORTY EIGHT BILLION FOUR HUNDRED EIGHTY NINE MILLION US DOLLARS, PLUS INTEREST, PENALTIES, AND FEES." (Id.) The lien claim is signed by Petitioner and notarized by a Florida notary public. (Id.) The same claims are also made against the following "vessels": U.S. M/V MICHAEL JOHN WATLING; U.S. M/V ADAM REDERICK HULBIG; U.S. M/V JAROD J. KOOPMAN; U.S. M/V THOMAS FRANCIS KIRW IN; U.S. M/V TIFFANY HOPE EGGERS; U.S. M/V US DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA PENSACOLA DIVISION; U.S. M/V W ILLIAM M. MCCOOL. The Court recognizes the name Jarod J. Koopman as an IRS agent about whom Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of mandamus, which the Court denied. See Leitner v. Koopman, No. 09-MC-6033-CJS, 2010 WL 681268 (W.D.N.Y. Feb. 22, 2010).

Included in the papers with the lien claim is a paper entitled, "Specific Affidavit of Negative Averment, Opportunity to Cure, and Counterclaim," dated December 26, 2009, and notarized in Rochester, New York. (Docket No. 1, at 11--19.) The paper was prepared for filing in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida, with regard to case number 08-CR-79-MCR, entitled United States v. Mark Daniel Leitner. (Id., at 11.) On PACER, the case number 08-CR-00079-MCR, returns a multi-defendant case with one defendant named Mark Daniel Leitner, and the case is assigned to U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers. According to the docket sheet in that case, Mr. Leitner was indicted for conspiracy to defraud the United States, money laundering and wire fraud. Further, the docket indicates that Mr. Leitner was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and wire fraud by a jury on March 31, 2010. Verdict (Docket No. 1166), United States v. Leitner, NO. 3:08-CR-79/MCR (N.D. Fl. Jun. 1, 2010). The last entry is Docket No. 1239, an Order from Judge Rodgers denying Mr. Leitner's release from custody. The Order begins as follows: "This cause is before the court on defendant's pro se 'Notice and Demand within the Admiralty' wherein defendant 'demands' his immediate release from custody.. Defendant's pleading is purportedly tendered under the Rules of Admiralty, though he has been advised time and again that such rules are not applicable to criminal proceedings." Order, United States v. Leitner, NO. 3:08-CR-79/MCR (N.D. Fl. Jun. 1, 2010). Marx, Watling, Hulbig, and Eggers are all listed as prosecutors in the criminal case and McCool is the Clerk of the Northern District of Florida.

STANDARDS OF LAW

In Itel Containers Intern. Corp. V. Atlanttrafik Exp. Service Ltd., 982 F.2d 765 (2d Cir. 1992), the Second Circuit described a maritime lien as: a special property right in the vessel, arising in favor of the creditor by operation of law as security for a debt or claim. The lien arises when the debt arises, and grants the creditor the right to appropriate the vessel, have it sold, and be repaid the debt from the proceeds.

Equilease Corp. v. M/V Sampson, 793 F.2d 598, 602 (5th Cir.) ( en banc ), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 984 (1986). Under United States law as it existed at all relevant times in this case, a maritime lien exists in favor of "[a]ny person furnishing repairs, supplies, towage, use of dry dock or marine railway, or other necessaries, to any vessel." 46 U.S.C. § 971 (1982).

Id., at 766--77 (footnote omitted). The Maritime Lien Act, codified in Title 46 of the United States Code, currently provides in pertinent part as follows:

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, a person providing necessaries to a vessel on the order of the owner or a person authorized by the owner-

(1) has a maritime lien on the vessel;

(2) may bring a civil action in rem to enforce the lien; and

(3) is not required to allege or prove in the action that credit was ...


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