Jarvis v. Village Vault

Federal District Court for Massachusetts

Challenge to forced forfeitures of private property due to the misuse of bonded warehouses and the state's failure to regulate such facilities

Filed March 27, 2012

Decided (First Circuit) October 30, 2015 -- Village Vault does not function as a state actor and therefore cannot be held liable for the deprivation of the plaintiff's due process rights. 

First Circuit Opinion

Jarvis v. Village Vault challenges the unconstitutional misuse of bonded warehouses to force the forfeiture of privately owned firearms in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process guarantees. 

Valuable firearms belonging to each of the individual plaintiffs were involuntarily transferred to the bonded warehouse operated by defendant Village Vault. Those firearms were subsequently sold at auction by the defendant.  In no instance did the plaintiffs have any meaningful opportunity to challenge the forfeiture of their property in a court or other neutral venue. None of the individual plaintiffs have ever been convicted of or charged with any crime or are otherwise disqualified from possessing firearms under state or federal law.

Massachusetts has failed to regulate bonded warehouses allowing them to levy fees that quickly exceed the value of the confiscated property and virtually assure that confiscated property is forfeit to the bonded warehouse.  In many cases gun owners are not properly notified that their property has been transferred to a bonded warehouse until fees have accumulated to a point where they exceed the value of the seized property making their recovery economically irrational.

Massachusetts law allows police departments to turn confiscated firearms over to unregulated bonded warehouses who then charge the firearm owners onerous and prohibitive fees for the storage and ‘administration’ of those firearms.  Bonded warehouses are authorized to sell these firearms once accumulated fees are in arrears for 90 days.In addition to Comm2A, this case is supported by the NRA CRDF.  Comm2A and the individual plaintiffs are represented by attorneys David Jensen and Patrick Groulx.

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