United States v. Mellon Bank, N. A.
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
October 19, 1976, Argued ; December 7, 1976, Filed
[*870] HUNTER, Circuit Judge:
Milton F. Meissner appeals from an order of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania staying an action for levy and seizure of a safe deposit box, pending the outcome of criminal proceedings against Meissner in the Southern District of New York. Alternatively, Meissner asks us to regard his appeal as a petition for a writ of mandamus ordering the district court to vacate the stay. The Mellon Bank, which leased the safe deposit box to Meissner, is a mere stakeholder and is not involved in this appeal. Treating Meissner's appeal as a petition for a writ of mandamus, we must [**3] dismiss it.
Meissner allegedly was linked to various securities and tax frauds involving Robert Vesco and Investors Overseas Services. On April 9, the Internal Revenue Service entered a jeopardy assessment against Meissner and his wife, who now reside in Costa Rica. On April 10, 1974, the Government served notice of levy and seizure on the Mellon Bank, which had leased a safe deposit box to Meissner and his wife. The Bank refused to permit the Government to break into the box, which remains sealed.
[**4] On July 26, 1974, the Government petitioned the court below for an order directing the opening of the box. Meissner was granted leave to intervene in that proceeding and opposed the attempted seizure. In September of 1974, he initiated a suit in the Tax Court to contest the jeopardy assessment.
Meissner opposed the seizure of the contents of the safe deposit box on several constitutional and other legal grounds. Primary among them was his contention that the Government had no genuine tax purpose for the seizure proceeding, that it wanted to examine the contents of the box merely to gather evidence for the criminal investigation of Meissner then in progress. He sought discovery of certain Government documents that would, he claimed, support this charge of bad faith.
The district court held that it lacked jurisdiction to consider [**5] Meissner's claims and denied his discovery motion. This court reversed, United States v. Mellon Bank, N.A., 521 F.2d 708 (3d Cir. 1975) (Mellon Bank I). In the meantime, Meissner had obtained [*871] a stay of his Tax Court proceeding, alleging that it might jeopardize his fifth amendment rights with respect to criminal investigations then occurring.Read The Full CaseNot a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.
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545 F.2d 869 *; 1976 U.S. App. LEXIS 5935 **; 77-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) P9103; 39 A.F.T.R.2d (RIA) 414
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee, v. MELLON BANK, N.A. MILTON F. MEISSNER, Intervenor-Respondent MILTON F. MEISSNER, Appellant
Prior History: [**1] APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA D.C. Civil No. 74-717
seizure, district court, safe deposit box, proceedings, discovery, rights, documents, mandamus, box
Civil Procedure, Appeals, Appellate Jurisdiction, Final Judgment Rule, Remedies, Writs, All Writs Act, Common Law Writs, Mandamus, Interlocutory Orders, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Governments, Courts, Creation & Organization, General Overview, Tax Law, Tax Credits & Liabilities, Assessments of Tax, Jurisdiction, Jurisdictional Sources, Federal Tax Administration & Procedures, Tax Court, Deficiencies, Restrictions on Deficiencies, Federal & State Interrelationships, Anti-Injunction Act, Exceptions, Federal Government, Claims By & Against, Preliminary Considerations, Injunctions, Grounds for Injunctions, Irreparable Harm