In a landmark victory against the United States government, on July 28, 2009, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted summary judgment in favor of Kramer Levin clients Joan Langbord, Roy Langbord and David Langbord on their claims that the United States Mint violated their Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights by confiscating ten 1933 Double Eagle gold coins without due process of law. The Court found no legitimate reason for the government's failure to comply with its constitutional obligations and explicitly rejected the government's argument that its warrantless seizure of the coins and its failure to provide the Langbords with a predeprivation hearing were justified by the government's unproven assertion that the coins had been stolen from the United States Mint more than 75 years ago.
In a sharp rebuke of the government's conduct, the Court discounted the government's argument that it should not have to follow the requirements established by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to recover what it unilaterally believes to be its own property. The Court wrote that such a holding "would be contrary not only to the governing law, but also to the bedrock principles of justice on which our government is founded." Stating that people "ought not to suffer" for putting their trust in the government, the Court held that the government "must not squander that trust" and instead must "invariably respect the wise restraints embodied by the Constitution and must follow the clearly delineated paths to justice that they create." "Seeking shortcuts to these paths does nothing more than undermine their valuable function and erode the meaning of the rights they are designed to protect," the Court wrote.
The Court ordered the government to file a judicial forfeiture proceeding, which it had refused to do when it decided to confiscate the Coins. In that proceeding the government will bear the burden of proving how the Coins left the Mint over 75 years ago. The 1933 Double Eagle is believed to be the world's most valuable coin. In July 2002, a 1933 Double Eagle sold for a record $7.6 million.