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Sec. 21a-96. (Formerly Sec. 19-216). Seizures.

      Sec. 21a-96. (Formerly Sec. 19-216). Seizures. (a) Whenever the commissioner or his authorized agent finds, or has probable cause to believe, that any food, drug, device or cosmetic is offered or exposed for sale, or held in possession with intent to distribute or sell, or is intended for distribution or sale in violation of any provision of this chapter, whether it is in the custody of a common carrier or any other person, he may affix to such article a tag or other appropriate marking, giving notice that such article is, or is suspected of being, in violation of this chapter and has been embargoed. Within twenty-one days after an embargo has been placed upon any article, the embargo shall be removed by the commissioner or a summary proceeding for the confiscation of the article shall be instituted by the commissioner. No person shall remove or dispose of such embargoed article by sale or otherwise without the permission of the commissioner or his agent, or, after summary proceedings have been instituted, without permission from the court. If the embargo is removed by the commissioner or by the court, neither the commissioner nor the state shall be held liable for damages because of such embargo if the court finds that there was probable cause for the embargo.

      (b) Proceedings before the Superior Court brought in accordance with this section shall be by complaint, verified by affidavit, which may be made on information and belief in the name of the commissioner against the article to be confiscated.

      (c) The complaint shall contain: (1) A particular description of the article, (2) the name of the place where the article is located, (3) the name of the person in whose possession or custody the article was found, if such name is known to the person making the complaint or can be ascertained by reasonable effort, and (4) a statement as to the manner in which the article is adulterated or misbranded or the characteristics which render its distribution or sale illegal.

      (d) Upon the filing of the verified complaint, the court shall issue a warrant directed to the proper officer to seize and take in his possession the article described in the complaint and bring the same before the court which issued the warrant and to summon the person named in the warrant, and any other person found in possession of the article, to appear at the time and place therein specified.

      (e) Any such person shall be summoned by service of a copy of the warrant in the same manner as a summons issuing out of the court in which the warrant has been issued.

      (f) The hearing upon the complaint shall be at the time and place specified in the warrant, which time shall not be less than five days or more than fifteen days from the date of issuing the warrant, but, if the execution and service of the warrant has been less than three days before the return of the warrant, either party shall be entitled to a reasonable continuance. Upon the hearing the complaint may be amended.

      (g) Any person who appears and claims the food, drug, device or cosmetic seized under the warrant shall be required to file a claim in writing.

      (h) If, upon the hearing, it appears that the article was offered or exposed for sale, or had in possession with intent to distribute or sell, or was intended for distribution or sale, in violation of any provision of this chapter, it shall be confiscated and disposed of by destruction or sale as the court may direct, but no such article shall be sold contrary to any provision of this chapter. The proceeds of any sale, less the legal costs and charges, shall be paid into the State Treasury.

      (i) If the article seized is not injurious to health and is of such character that, when properly packed, marked, branded or otherwise brought into compliance with the provisions of this chapter, its sale would not be prohibited, the court may order such article delivered to the owner upon the payment of the costs of the proceedings and the execution and delivery to the state department instituting the proceedings, as obligee, of a good and sufficient bond to the effect that such article will be brought into compliance with the provisions of this chapter under the supervision of said department, and the expenses of such supervision shall be paid by the owner obtaining release of the article under bond.

      (j) Whenever the commissioner or any of his authorized agents finds in any room, building, vehicle of transportation, or other structure, any meat, seafood, poultry, vegetable, fruit or other perishable article which is unsound, or contains any filthy, decomposed or putrid substance, or that may be poisonous or deleterious to health or otherwise unsafe, the commissioner, or his authorized agent, shall forthwith condemn or destroy the same, or in any other manner render the same unsalable as a human food.

      (k) The commissioner may, after notice and hearing, impose a civil penalty of not more than five hundred dollars for each separate offense on any person who removes any tag or other appropriate marking affixed to an article which has been embargoed or condemned in accordance with the provisions of this section, without the permission of the commissioner or his agent.

      (1949 Rev., S. 3934; 1959, P.A. 28, S. 61; P.A. 74-40, S. 1, 2; 74-183, S. 227, 291; P.A. 76-436, S. 196, 681; P.A. 86-339, S. 1; P.A. 07-217, S. 96.)

      History: 1959 act deleted references to local justices and town, police or city court or the judges thereof, placing jurisdiction in the circuit court; P.A. 74-40 changed time for removal of embargo or summary proceeding from within 12 to within 21 days of placing embargo in Subsec. (a); P.A. 74-183 replaced circuit court with court of common pleas in Subsec. (b), effective December 31, 1974; P.A. 76-436 deleted Subsec. (b) re jurisdiction of court of common pleas to hear and determine proceedings, redesignated remaining Subsecs. accordingly and clarified that proceedings are before superior court in Subsec. (b) (formerly (c)), effective July 1, 1978; Sec. 19-216 transferred to Sec. 21a-96 in 1983; P.A. 86-339 added Subsec. (k) authorizing commissioner to impose a civil penalty; P.A. 07-217 made a technical change in Subsec. (c), effective July 12, 2007.

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