Justia Civil Procedure Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in International Trade
Venequip, S.A. v. Caterpillar Inc.
Venequip, a Venezuelan heavy-equipment supplier, sold and serviced products made by Illinois-based Caterpillar. Venequip’s dealership was governed by sales and service agreements with CAT Sàrl, Caterpillar’s Swiss subsidiary. In 2019 CAT Sàrl terminated the dealership. The contracts contain clauses that direct all disputes to Swiss courts for resolution under Swiss law. In 2021 Venequip brought contract claims against CAT Sàrl in Geneva, Switzerland. Venequip filed applications across the United States seeking discovery from Caterpillar and its employees, dealers, and customers under 28 U.S.C. 1782(a), which authorizes (but does not require) district courts to order any person who resides or is found in the district to give testimony or produce documents “for use in a proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal.” Venequip’s Northern District of Illinois application sought wide-ranging discovery from Caterpillar.Ruling on Venequip’s application, the district judge addressed four factors identified by the Supreme Court (Intel) that generally concern the applicant’s need for discovery, the intrusiveness of the request, and comity considerations, and added the parties’ contractual choice of forum and law and Caterpillar’s agreement to provide discovery in the Swiss court, then denied the application. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The appeal was not mooted by intervening developments in the Swiss court. The judge appropriately weighed the Intel factors and other permissible considerations. View "Venequip, S.A. v. Caterpillar Inc." on Justia Law
United States v. Katana Racing, Inc.
Katana, a California-based distributor of high-end wheels and tires, was the importer of record for 386 entries of passenger vehicle and light truck tires from China in 2009-2012 and supplied Customs and Border Protection with invoices that listed prices lower than what Katana actually paid its Chinese vendors. Due to this error, Katana undercalculated the amount of safeguard duties, regular customs duties, harbor maintenance fees, and merchandise processing fees it owed by $5,742,483.80. Customs issued a demand to Katana for the unpaid duties and fees and later filed suit under 19 U.S.C. 1592(d).Katana sought dismissal for lack of jurisdiction because the government had filed suit after the statute of limitations, 19 U.S.C. 1621, had run. Katana stated that, although it had signed a waiver of the limitations period on October 25, 2016, it had revoked the waiver before the expiration of the limitations period. The Trade Court found that Katana had properly revoked its waiver and that the suit was untimely.The Federal Circuit reversed. The statute of limitations in 19 U.S.C. 1621 is not a jurisdictional time limit; it is subject to waiver and equitable tolling. On remand, Katana can assert an affirmative defense concerning the invalidity of its waiver. View "United States v. Katana Racing, Inc." on Justia Law
Wudi Industrial (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. v. Wai Wong
Plaintiff Wudi Industrial (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. Challenged two adverse rulings made by the district court in favor of defendant Wai L. Wong and his business entity, GT Omega Racing, Ltd. (collectively “GTOR”). Wudi and GTOR are Asian-centered business entities that compete in the marketing of video gaming chairs and other products. In March 2017, Wudi obtained from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) a registration for the stylized word mark “GTRACING.” For its part, GTOR claimed that it already owned an earlier use of a similar word mark — that is, “GT OMEGA RACING” — and challenged Wudi’s registration of the “GTRACING” word mark in cancellation proceedings before a USPTO component called the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board (the “Board”). In June 2020, the Board ruled in favor of GTOR, concluding that Wudi’s use of the “GTRACING” word mark encroached on GTOR’s earlier use of its own “GT OMEGA RACING” word mark. The Fourth Circuit vacated the challenged rulings and remanded. The court agreed with Wudi’s primary contention that the district court’s challenged rulings constitute awards of injunctive relief in favor of GTOR and against Wudi. Secondly, the court also agreed that the challenged rulings failed to comport with the applicable Rules of Civil Procedure and controlling precedent. The court emphasized that the First Order possesses all of the necessary attributes and thus qualifies as an injunction order. That is, the First Order contains “clear, enforceable directives” and threatens Wudi with contempt for noncompliance. View "Wudi Industrial (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. v. Wai Wong" on Justia Law
Aldossari v. Ripp
In the 1990s, Aldossari’s company, Trans Gulf, entered into an agreement in Saudi Arabia with three other businesses to establish and operate an oil refinery in Saint Lucia, a Caribbean island nation. Crude oil was to be sourced from the Saudi government or its national oil company, Saudi Aramco. The project went forward, but, Aldossari alleged, the owners of the three contract counterparties – one of whom became the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia –refused to pay Trans Gulf its share of the proceeds. Two decades later, the soon-to-be Crown Prince promised to pay Aldossari but never did. Aldossari, transferred his rights to his minor son, a U.S. citizen.The federal district court dismissed Aldossari’s subsequent tort and contract claims. The Third Circuit affirmed, holding that dismissal of the claims against a deceased defendant was proper because Aldossari failed to allege any basis for exercising subject-matter jurisdiction over those claims. As for the surviving defendants, the lack of any meaningful ties between those defendants and the United States in Aldossari’s claims defeats his effort to sue them in the U.S. The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act precludes subject-matter jurisdiction over the claims against Saudi Arabia and Saudi Aramco. The case was remanded with directions to dismiss without prejudice since none of the dispositive rulings reach the merits. View "Aldossari v. Ripp" on Justia Law
California Steel Industries, Inc. v. United States
Domestic manufacturers or distributors who imported steel products subject to an ad valorem “national security” tariffs, 19 U.S.C. 1862, sought exclusions from the tariff. Domestic steel producers objected to those requests, asserting that “they could satisfactorily produce all of, or sufficient substitutes for, the material that was the subject of the exclusion requests.” The Department of Commerce denied the exclusion requests. The importers paid the duties and imported the steel products, then filed lawsuits, contending that Commerce failed to consider relevant evidence, failed to give adequate explanations, and in some instances considered legally irrelevant factors.Domestic producers, who had objected to the tariff exclusion requests before Commerce, moved to intervene as party defendants in the importers’ lawsuits. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Trade Court’s denial of intervention. Each of the proposed intervenors’ requested relief is largely identical to the government’s prayer for relief, so they have established “piggyback” standing but they did not identify a legally protectable interest to qualify as intervenors under Rule 24(a)(2). The court rejected arguments that participation in adversarial administrative proceedings bestows a Rule 24(a)(2) interest in the result, that actions to undo tariffs that specifically protect domestic producers give rise to economic interests, and that judgments removing tariff protection may practically impair the interests of direct beneficiaries of those tariffs. View "California Steel Industries, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law
NBA Properties, Inc. v. HANWJH
NBA Properties owns the trademarks of the NBA and NBA teams. In 2020, a Properties investigator accessed HANWJH’s online Amazon store and purchased an item, designating an address in Illinois as the delivery destination. The product was delivered to the Illinois address. Properties sued, alleging trademark infringement and counterfeiting, 15 U.S.C. 1114 and false designation of origin, section 1125(a). Properties obtained a TRO and a temporary asset restraint on HANWJH’s bank account, then moved for default; despite having been served, HANWJH had not answered or otherwise defended the suit. HANWJH moved to dismiss, arguing that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over it because it did not expressly aim any conduct at Illinois. HANWJH maintained that it had never sold any other product to any consumer in Illinois nor had it any “offices, employees,” “real or personal property,” “bank accounts,” or any other commercial dealings with Illinois.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of the motion to dismiss and the entry of judgment in favor of Properties. HANWJH shipped a product to Illinois after it structured its sales activity in such a manner as to invite orders from Illinois and developed the capacity to fill them. HANWJH’s listing of its product on Amazon.com and its sale of the product to counsel are related sufficiently to the harm of likelihood of confusion. Illinois has an interest in protecting its consumers from purchasing fraudulent merchandise. HANWJH alleges no unusual burden in defending the suit in Illinois. View "NBA Properties, Inc. v. HANWJH" on Justia Law
Red Sun Farms v. United States
“Red Sun Farms” is the trade name under which various entities do business as “U.S. producers of fresh tomatoes grown in the United States, U.S. importers and resellers of fresh tomatoes from Mexico, and foreign producers and exporters of fresh tomatoes from Mexico.”Red Sun filed suit against the government based on an antidumping duty investigation to determine whether fresh Mexican tomatoes were being imported into the United States and sold at less than fair value. In its motion to dismiss, the government observed, with respect to the five identified entities doing business as “Red Sun Farms,” that “[i]t is unclear whether all of these parties possess standing or can be considered real parties in interest” and reserved its right to raise additional arguments on the subject. In a discovery filing, the government noted the varying singular/plural usage by Red Sun Farms and stated that “‘Plaintiff’ Red Sun Farms actually consists of several companies.”The Federal Circuit reversed the dismissal of the suit. Red Sun challenged the Department of Commerce’s Final Determination resulting from a continued investigation under 19 U.S.C. 1516a(a)(2)(B)(iv); although no final antidumping order had been issued, its claims are not premature. Jurisdiction exists based on 28 U.S.C. 1516a(g)(3)(A)(i) and 1516a(a)(2)(B)(i). View "Red Sun Farms v. United States" on Justia Law
Wanxiang America Corp. v. United States
Wanxiang is a U.S. importer for Wanxiang Group, an automotive parts manufacturing company headquartered in China. In 1994-2001, Group and Wanxiang IE participated in Department of Commerce administrative reviews that covered entries of wheel hub assemblies that were subject to a 1987 antidumping duty order. Group and IE were assigned company-specific antidumping duty rates of zero percent. Wanxiang Q did not receive a company-specific antidumping duty rate because it did not participate in the reviews. Following a 2012 audit of Wangxiang, Customs found that some of the audited entries were imports from Q, subject to the China country-wide rate of 92.84%, and that, based on the sampling results, Wanxiang had underpaid dumping duties. In 2019, Customs issued a Penalty Notice.Wanxiang did not protest under 19 U.S.C. 1514 and has not made any payment but filed a complaint before the Trade Court, asserting jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1581(i)(2) and (4). The court dismissed, concluding that it lacked “residual” jurisdiction because relief could have been available under a section 1581(c) action. Wangxiang has not shown that such relief would have been manifestly inadequate. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Wanxiang could have challenged the assessments by a protest under 19 U.S.C. 1514 and, if unsuccessful, by appealing to the Trade Court under 1581(a). Alternatively, Wanxiang could have initiated a test shipment and sought, as a new shipper, an administrative review, during which it could have argued the issues it raised in its complaint; the results of that review could have been challenged under 19 U.S.C. 1516a, invoking Trade Court jurisdiction under 1581(c). View "Wanxiang America Corp. v. United States" on Justia Law
Ayla, LLC v. Alya Skin Pty. Ltd.
Ayla, a San Francisco-based brand, is the registered owner of trademarks for use of the “AYLA” word mark in connection with on-site beauty services, online retail beauty products, cosmetics services, and cosmetics. Alya Skin, an Australian company, sells and ships skincare products worldwide. Ayla sued in the Northern District of California, asserting trademark infringement and false designation of origin under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1114, 1125(a).Alya Skin asserted that it has no retail stores, offices, officers, directors, employees, bank accounts, or real property in the U.S., does not sell products in U.S. retail stores, solicit business from Americans, nor direct advertising toward California; less than 10% of its sales have been to the U.S. and less than 2% of its sales have been to California. Alya Skin uses an Idaho company to fulfill shipments outside of Australia and New Zealand. Alya Skin filed a U.S. trademark registration application in 2018, and represented to potential customers that its products are FDA-approved; it ships from, and allows returns to, Idaho Alya Skin’s website listed U.S. dollars as the default currency and advertises four-day delivery to the U.S.The Ninth Circuit reversed the dismissal of the suit. Jurisdiction under Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(2) comports with due process. Alya Skin had minimum contacts with the U.S., and subjecting it to an action in that forum would not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. The company purposefully directed its activities toward the U.S. The Lanham Act and unfair competition claims arose out of or resulted from Alya Skin’s intentional forum-related activities. View "Ayla, LLC v. Alya Skin Pty. Ltd." on Justia Law
TR International Trading Co., Inc. v. United States
TRI filed entries of citric acid, identifying India as the country of origin, which allowed TRI to file the subject entries as type 01 “consumption” entries, which are not subject to duties, rather than type 03 “consumption—antidumping (AD)/countervailing duty (CVD)” entries. Customs requested information regarding the entries. TRI responded with documentation of the purchase and receipt of citric acid monohydrate from suppliers in India and the processing of the citric acid monohydrate into citric acid anhydrous. TRI admits that the origin of the citric acid monohydrate is unknown. Customs extended liquidation of the entries, 19 U.S.C. 1504(b)(1). Customs’ Office of Laboratory and Scientific Services investigated the processing of the citric acid in India; Customs determined that the product was not substantially transformed and therefore not a product of India. The entries would be liquidated with the applicable consumption, anti-dumping and countervailing duties.TRI filed suit in the Court of International Trade, asserting residual jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1581(I). Separately, TRI also protested Customs’ liquidation of its entries. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Trade Court’s dismissal of the suit for lack of jurisdiction because jurisdiction was available under other section 1581 subsections. Where a plaintiff asserts section 1581(i) jurisdiction, it “bears the burden of showing that another subsection is either unavailable or manifestly inadequate.” TRI has not established that a scope determination or a protest were unavailable or manifestly inadequate. View "TR International Trading Co., Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law