County District Court File No. 82-CV-15-3701
Patrick Durkin, Giancola & Durkin, P.A., Anoka, Minnesota
Orput, Washington County Attorney, James Zuleger, Assistant
County Attorney, Stillwater, Minnesota (for respondents).
Considered and decided by Reyes, Presiding Judge; Connolly,
Judge; and Larkin, Judge.
of a demand for judicial determination of administrative
forfeiture under Minn. Stat. § 609.5314, subd. 3 (2016),
requires that a complaint be served on the opposing party in
accordance with Minnesota Rule of Civil Procedure 4 and
electronic service is not effective absent consent by the
civil forfeiture appeal, appellant argues that the district
court erred in dismissing his case for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction because (1) Minn. Stat. § 609.5314 does not
expressly prohibit litigants from electronically serving a
party, he was allowed to electronically serve his complaint
on an opposing party and (2) he is entitled to equitable
relief either under the doctrine of laches or under this
court's "supervisory powers." We affirm.
case arises from the seizure and administrative forfeiture of
$4, 675 and a 2000 Lincoln LS automobile (the property) by
the Minnesota State Patrol (the state patrol). Pursuant to
Minn. Stat. § 609.5314, subd. 2(b) (2016), the state
patrol personally served appellant Justin Alan Kokosh with a
copy of the notice of seizure and intent to forfeit regarding
August 6, 2015, Kokosh, through his counsel, filed a
complaint for judicial determination of forfeiture in
Washington County District Court, challenging the forfeiture
of the property. Kokosh's counsel attempted to
electronically serve the Washington County Attorney's
Office (the county) but encountered some technical
difficulties. After various discussions with court staff,
Kokosh's counsel was informed that the complaint was
successfully filed and that the county would be served
electronically as well. Believing that he had satisfied the
requirements for service of process, Kokosh mailed a copy of
the complaint to the county and the state patrol, but did not
include an acknowledgement of service. The county never
acknowledged service of Kokosh's complaint.
November 19, the county filed a motion to dismiss for lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction based on Kokosh's failure to
timely serve a complaint pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. P. 4.05.
In response, Kokosh argued that, while a demand for judicial
determination must be filed in the form of a civil complaint,
for the purposes of service, rule 5.01 controls. Kokosh also
argued that the doctrine of laches should apply because the
county unreasonably delayed in filing its motion to dismiss.
Finally, Kokosh moved to amend his complaint under rule 4.07,
to add the acknowledgment of service form required by rule
4.05, in the event that the district court found that his
electronic service was ineffective.
district court denied the county's motion to dismiss and
granted Kokosh leave to amend his complaint so that he could
properly serve the county. Pursuant to the district
court's order, Kokosh served an amended complaint on the
county that included an acknowledgment of service. The county
subsequently sought, and the district court granted,
permission to file a motion for reconsideration regarding the
district court's denial of its motion to dismiss.
denying the motion for reconsideration, the district court
determined that Kokosh was entitled to relief under Minn. R.
Civ. P. 5.02(d), which grants relief to a party who
encounters technical difficulties under Minn. Gen. R. Pract.
14.01(c). In response, the county sent a letter to the
district court requesting that the court re-examine its
decision and dismiss this case for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction, arguing that service by mail was ineffective
and electronic service of a complaint is not permitted under