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United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
April 16, 2021, Argued; October 28, 2021, Filed
OPINION OF THE COURT
JORDAN, Circuit Judge.
This appeal centers on the law of escheat, under which a citizen's abandoned property may end up in a sovereign's treasury. Delaware's Unclaimed Property Law ("UPL"), Del. Code Ann. tit. 12, § 1101 et seq., allows the state to escheat certain types of unclaimed property held by businesses chartered in the state, if the particular business holding the property is not the owner of it, and if there has been no contact with the owner for a specified period of time. See id. § 1133 (stating when property is presumed abandoned); § 1136 (listing indications of owner interest in property).
Seeking to enforce its escheat law, Delaware initiated an audit of Siemens USA Holdings, Inc. and Siemens Industry, Inc. (collectively "Siemens") and related [*2] entities, which are incorporated under Delaware law. After a near-decade-long audit process, Siemens brought suit against the state and Richard Geisenberger, in his capacity as the Delaware Secretary of Finance, Brenda Mayrack, in her capacity as the Delaware State Escheator, and Michelle Sullivan, in her capacity as the Assistant Director of the Office of Unclaimed Property (collectively, the "Defendants"). Siemens challenges the constitutionality of the audit and argues that Delaware's actions conflict with federal common law limiting the scope of any state's escheatment authority. Approximately four months after filing its complaint, and while a motion to dismiss was pending, Siemens filed a motion to preliminarily enjoin the Defendants from enforcing Delaware's UPL against it. In a single order, the District Court dismissed the majority of Siemens's claims and denied the motion for a preliminary injunction on the sole surviving claim, which alleged a violation of procedural due process.
Because the District Court erred in concluding that Siemens failed to show irreparable harm based on its procedural due process claim, and in dismissing Siemens's federal preemption claim as unripe, [*3] we will vacate and remand.
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2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 32865 *
SIEMENS USA HOLDINGS Inc; SIEMENS INDUSTRY INC, Appellants v. RICHARD J. GEISENBERGER, in his capacity as the Secretary of Finance for the State of Delaware; BRENDA MAYRACK, in her capacity as the Delaware State Escheator; MICHELLE M. SULLIVAN, in her capacity as the Assistant Director of the Office of Unclaimed Property; STATE OF DELAWARE
Prior History: [*1] On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. (D.C. No. 1-19-cv-2284). District Judge: Hon. Maryellen Noreika.
Eaton Corp. v. Geisenberger, 486 F. Supp. 3d 770, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169209, 2020 WL 5531587 (D. Del., Sept. 15, 2020)
escheat, audit, preliminary injunction, district court, records, expedited, preemption claim, estimation, ripeness, procedural due process claim, holder, irreparable harm, remediation, terminate, evidentiary record, abandoned, trilogy, interest and penalties, abandoned property, alleges, unclaimed property, motion to dismiss, calculated, preemption, credits, checks, irreparable injury, last known address, requests, merits
Estate, Gift & Trust Law, Estate Administration, Intestate Succession, Escheat, Real Property Law, Ownership & Transfer, Death & Incapacity, Governments, Legislation, Statutory Remedies & Rights, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, De Novo Review, Clearly Erroneous Review, Questions of Fact & Law, Remedies, Injunctions, Preliminary & Temporary Injunctions, Grounds for Injunctions, Irreparable Harm, Appellate Jurisdiction, Interlocutory Orders, Constitutional Law, The Judiciary, Case or Controversy, Ripeness, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Justiciability, Ripeness, Imminence, Rationale for Ripeness, Tests for Ripeness, Declaratory Judgments, State Declaratory Judgments, Scope of Declaratory Judgments, Standing, Elements, Civil Rights Law, Section 1983 Actions, Scope, Due Process in State Proceedings, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection