United States District Court, D. Minnesota
AVEKA, INC. and AVEKA CCE TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, Plaintiffs,
CHARLES REGENHARD and the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Defendants.
N. ERICKSEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff may force adverse claimants to interplead as
defendants for a single fund, even if that fund is not the
typically interpled-for payout from an insurance contract.
Here, Aveka, Inc. and Aveka CCE Technologies, LLC
(collectively, “Aveka”) contracted to pay Charles
Regenhard an amount of cash, which was due in late 2017. For
this promised cash and other consideration, Regenhard sold a
business to Aveka. Allegedly, taxes accrued on that business
while, before he sold it, Regenhard operated it as sole
shareholder. Because no one paid those taxes, the Government
imposed a lien on that business's property. Aveka now
joins Regenhard and the Government in interpleader for the
promised cash and has posted that cash with the Court.
Regenhard attacks this interpleader action as improper. Mot.,
Dkt. No. 17. He likewise objects to the Magistrate
Judge's October 6, 2017 Order that allowed Aveka to post
the cash. Obj'n, Dkt. No. 35. For its part, the
Government claims the cash.
Court must decide this interpleader action because
jurisdiction attaches to cases that affect a federal tax
lien's nature or operation.
without party diversity, jurisdiction can attach to an
interpleader action. Cf. Jurisdiction Order
(questioning diversity), Dkt. No. 38. A court must decide
“civil actions arising under the . . . laws . . . of
the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. And,
“matters directly affecting the nature or operation of
[federal tax] liens” arise under U.S. law,
“regardless of whether the federal statutory scheme
deals with them.” United States v. Brosnan,
363 U.S. 237, 240 (1960). These matters can include
interpleader actions. St. Louis Union Tr. Co. v.
Stone, 570 F.2d 833, 835-36 (8th Cir. 1978) (vacating
no-jurisdiction dismissal of interpleader action when
plaintiff sought “declaration of . . . . its potential
liability” between “government's tax
claim” and private claim).
Court has jurisdiction here because this interpleader action
affects the nature or operation of the federal tax lien
against the property of Regenhard's former business. The
Government has imposed a lien on that property. Lien Notice,
Dkt. No. 44-1. That lien springs from Regenhard's alleged
tax liability. U.S. Answer ¶ 4, Dkt. No. 46. In this
interpleader action, Aveka has posted cash under the
Magistrate Judge's October 6, 2017 Order. Magistrate
Judge's Order, Dkt. No. 30; Receipts, Dkt. Nos. 32, 41,
45. If the Court disburses this cash to the Government, the
lien's nature or operation will be affected because the
underlying liability will be partially or fully satisfied.
If, instead, the Court disburses the cash to Regenhard
because the Government's claim fails, that lien will
redound to Aveka as the current owner of Regenhard's
former business. Thus, the Court must decide this
interpleader action, including Regenhard's Motion to
dismiss it as improper.
to his Motion, Regenhard also objects to the Magistrate
Judge's Order allowing Aveka to post the cash. As for
that Objection, the Court must decide whether it shows clear
or legal error in the Order and, if so, set aside the Order
as to that error. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a).
plaintiff may force a defendant to interplead for a single
fund if that defendant and another defendant adversely claim
the fund and the forced defendant's claim would be
satisfied by the plaintiff's deposit.
may not dismiss an interpleader action as improper if the
plaintiff has shown that the defendants' “claims .
. . may expose [the] plaintiff to double or multiple
liabilities.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 22(a)(1)(A). To be joined,
those defendants must have “adverse claims against a
single fund or liability.” Gaines v. Sunray Oil
Co., 539 F.2d 1136, 1141 (8th Cir. 1976). And, to
“compel a party to . . . interplead, ” the
plaintiff must “deposit with the court . . . the sum
claimed by that party.” Id. at 1142. When
deciding these issues on the pleadings, as the Court does
here, a court must “accept as true the
complaint's [and other pleadings'] factual
allegations and grant all reasonable inferences to the
non-moving part[ies].” See Braden v. Wal-Mart
Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 591 (8th Cir. 2009).
may force Regenhard to interplead for Aveka's
contractually defined promised cash because Regenhard and the
Government claim that cash to the other's exclusion and
Regenhard's claim would be satisfied by Aveka's
may be forced into this interpleader action because facts
have been alleged that would show the action proper. First,
Aveka's posted cash is a single fund or liability,
Regenhard's or the Government's fund and Aveka's
liability, depending on which face the coin lands. Aveka and
Regenhard's contract defines the then-promised and
now-posted cash as to amount, due date, and status as partial
consideration for Regenhard's former business. Compl.
¶¶ 13-14. And even if Aveka generally funded that
cash, Regenhard and the Government now claim the cash, not
Aveka's general funds. U.S. Answer ¶¶ 2, 4.
the pleadings, Regenhard and the Government not only claim
the cash: they do so adversely. Aveka concedes that, if not
for the Government's claim, Regenhard would get that cash
as contractually promised. Compl. ¶ 56. For its part,
the Government seeks that cash under the tax liability it
alleges against Regenhard. U.S. Answer ¶¶ 2, 4.
Even if the Government could hypothetically claim taxes from
Aveka, it has not does so. Between Regenhard and the
Government, who gets the cash depends on the success or
failure of the Government's claim against Regenhard.
Aveka's deposit equals Regenhard's claim.
Compare Receipts, Dkt. Nos. 32, 41, 46,
with Compl. ¶¶ 56-57. Even if the
Government claims more than Aveka posted, Regenhard must
still interplead because his claim is not in excess. Aveka
has posted enough to compel Regenhard. Whether Aveka has
posted enough to compel the Government is irrelevant because
the Government interpleads willingly. See U.S.
Answer ¶ 4.
has properly joined Regenhard in interpleader. And
Regenhard's Objection to the Magistrate Judge's
October 6, 2017 Order reduces to his asserting that the
interpleader action is improper. Because the Court rejects
that assertion, Regenhard's Objection cannot show clear
or legal error in the Magistrate ...