Appeal from the 32nd Judicial District Court In and for the
Parish of Terrebonne State of Louisiana Trial Court No. 170,
587 Honorable David W. Arceneaux, Judge Presiding
D. Plaisance Thibodaux, LA Attorney for
Defendants-Appellants, Kee Food, Inc., Kassim Nagi, Mohamed
Nagi, and Southla, LLC.
L. Waitz, Jr. District Attorney Ellen Daigle Doskey Assistant
District Attorney Jason Paul Lyons Assistant District
Attorney Houma, LA Attorneys for Plaintiff-Appellee, State of
William F. Dodd Houma, LA Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee,
Terrebonne Parish Sheriffs Office.
R. Austin Baton Rouge, LA Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee,
Coastal Commerce Bank.
BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, HOLDRIDGE, AND PENZATO, JJ.
forfeiture proceeding, the defendants assert that the trial
court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the
State because service of the State's motion for summary
judgment was insufficient. Additionally, the defendants
assert that the trial court erred in not dismissing the
State's petition for forfeiture due to the State's
failure to timely request that the matter be set for hearing.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Nagi and Tawfiq Ali Almansoob were arrested in June of 2013
as part of an investigation into the sale of synthetic
cannabinoids on the premises of the convenience store, Kee
Food, Inc. Subsequently, various funds were seized from
multiple bank accounts related to Kee Food. A large amount of
cash was also seized from inside the store premises and from
a safe deposit box at Coastal Commerce Bank. Additionally, a
constructive seizure of the premises was perfected by the
State filing a lien in the Terrebonne Parish Public Records.
Seizure and Controlled Dangerous Substances Property
Forfeiture Act, La. R.S. 40:2601, et seq.,
("the act") allows law enforcement officials to
seize illegal drugs and property constituting the proceeds of
any drug-related conduct. Pursuant to the act on September
20, 2013, the State of Louisiana filed a petition for
forfeiture in personam against Kee Food, Southla, LLC, the
limited liability company that owned the premises from which
Kee Food operated its store, Tawfiq, Kassim, and his father,
Mohamed Nagi. Additionally, the State named numerous
defendants in rem. According to the State's petition, the
in personam defendants, individually and through Kee Food,
operated a convenience store located at 6957 West Park Avenue
in Houma, Louisiana, and on numerous occasions distributed
synthetic cannabinoids as part of its business operations.
The proceeds from the sale of the synthetic cannabinoids were
kept in the cash register for the business as well as various
other locations and were co-mingled with proceeds of
legitimate sales of merchandise. Prior to the filing of the
State's forfeiture petition, Mohamed returned to his
native country of Yemen, where he has since remained.
response to the State's petition, through counsel, Kee
Food, Kassim, Mohamed, and Southla (hereinafter referred to
collectively as the defendants) answered and asserted claims
pursuant to La. R.S. 40:2610, seeking immediate release of
the seized property and termination of any forfeiture
proceedings. The defendants maintained that certain seized
funds were from the sale of legitimate merchandise and were
not derived from or connected to any illegal activity. In the
claims submitted on behalf of Kee Food, Kassim acknowledged
that he is the agent, manager, and part owner of Kee
Food. Kassim, through a power of attorney
executed by Mohamed, asserted claims on behalf of Mohamed.
Additionally, through the power of attorney by Mohamed and
the resolution of Southla, Kassim was allowed to act on
behalf of Southla as it relates to any funds and/or property
seized by the State of Louisiana and/or Terrebonne Parish.
Kassim asserted claims on behalf of Southla.
January 22, 2015, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss
the civil forfeiture proceedings and for return of the seized
property based on the State's failure to seek a hearing
within sixty days of the service of the petition for
forfeiture in accordance with La.R.S.40:2612(G) and La.R.S.
40:2613(F). On April 20, 2015, the trial court signed a
judgment denying the defendants' motion to dismiss. On
June 15, 2015, the State filed a motion and order to set a
trial date. Subsequently, counsel for the defendants withdrew
from the case.
to trial, the State filed a motion for summary judgment
contending that the admissions, depositions, and records from
the criminal matter proved that no genuine issue of material
fact remained. On May 18, 2016, the State's motion for
summary judgment was personally served on Kassim,
individually and on behalf of Mohamed, Kee Food and Southla
at the Terrebonne Parish Criminal Justice Complex where