Justia International Trade Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Constitutional Law
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In 1963, the Republic of Guinea entered into an agreement with Halco establishing the Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée (CBG) for the purpose of developing Guinea's rich bauxite mines. Nanko filed suit against Alcoa, alleging breach of the CBG Agreement, asserting that it was a third-party beneficiary thereof, and another for racial discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C.1981. Nanko later added Halco as a defendant and asserted an additional claim against Alcoa for tortious interference with contractual relations. The district court dismissed the case under Rule 12(b)(7) for failure to join Guinea as a required Rule 19 party. The court concluded that the district court's Rule 19 holding failed to fully grapple with Nanko's allegations and that those allegations, accepted as true, state a claim for racial discrimination under section 1981. The court reasoned that, insofar as the existing parties' interests are concerned, evidence of Guinea's actions, views, or prerogatives can be discovered and introduced where relevant to the parties' claims and defenses even if Guinea remained a nonparty. At this stage in the pleadings, the court did not believe that the allegations could be reasonably read to show that Guinea was a necessary party. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Nanko Shipping, USA v. Alcoa" on Justia Law

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The International Trade Commission determines whether the dumping of certain imports has materially injured or threatened material injury to the domestic industry by sending questionnaires to foreign producers and exporters, and to members of the domestic industry, seeking production and financial data. The questionnaires specifically ask the respondents whether they support, oppose, or take no position on the anti-dumping petition. The 2000 Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act (CDSOA), provided for the distribution of recovered anti-dumping duties to “affected domestic producers”of the dumped goods, 19 U.S.C. 1675c. CDSOA, which defined “affected domestic producer” as a petitioner or interested party in support of the petition with respect to which an antidumping duty order entered, was repealed in 2006. The repeal was not retroactive. Schaeffler‘s challenge to CDSOA’s constitutionality under the Due Process Clause was dismissed by the Court of International Trade. The Federal Circuit affirmed, finding that the petition support requirement of CDSOA rationally related to the government’s interest in rewarding members of the domestic industry that supported anti-dumping petitions. View "Schaeffler Group USA, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000, 19 U.S.C. 1675c(a) (2000), (Byrd Amendment) provided for the distribution of antidumping duties collected by the United States to “affected domestic producers” of goods that are subject to an antidumping duty order and defined an “affected domestic producer” as a party that either petitioned for an antidumping duty order or was an “interested party in support of the petition.. The Byrd Amendment was repealed in 2006, but the repealing statute provided that any duties paid on goods that entered the United States before the date of repeal would continue to be distributed in accordance with the pre-repeal statutory scheme. Several ineligible domestic producers challenged the constitutionality of the Byrd Amendment, which was upheld against challenges based on the First Amendment and the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment. The Court of International Trade rejected a challenge asserting that the retroactive application of the Byrd Amendment violates due process. The Federal Circuit affirmed, reasoning that the prior holding that the statute promoted a substantial governmental interest in a rational manner, in the context of First Amendment and equal protection analysis, applied. The constitutionality of the statute turns on the same standard. View "Pat Huval Rest. & Oyster Bar, Inc. v. Int'l Trade Comm'n" on Justia Law

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In 1998, the Coalition filed a petition alleging that domestic producers of preserved mushrooms were injured by imports of preserved mushrooms from Chile, China, Indonesia, and India being sold in the U.S. at less than fair value. Giorgio accounted for approximately one half of total U.S. production, but was neither a Coalition member nor a petitioner. The International Trade Commission issued questionnaires to domestic producers, including Giorgio. Giorgio responded: “We take no position on Chile, China and Indonesia[.] We oppose the petition against India.” The Department of Commerce initiated an antidumping investigation, “on behalf of the domestic industry,” 19 U.S.C. 1673a(c)(4)(A)(i), noting that supporters of the petition accounted for over 50 percent of production of the domestic producers who expressed an opinion even if Giorgio’s position was not disregarded. Commerce found that dumping had occurred. The ITC determined that the domestic industry was materially injured; Commerce issued corresponding antidumping orders. Customs collected antidumping duties for distribution to “affected domestic producers.” Under the Byrd Amendment, an affected domestic producer “was a petitioner or interested party in support of the petition.” ITC rejected Giorgio’s request to be listed because Giorgio’s responses did not indicate support for the petition. Customs denied Giorgio’s claims for distributions. After the Federal Circuit upheld the Byrd Amendment against a facial First Amendment challenge, the Trade Court dismissed Giorgio’s suit, finding the support requirement constitutional under the standards governing commercial speech because it directly advanced the government’s substantial interest in preventing dumping. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Giorgio Foods, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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The companies, which import clothing and footwear, filed suit in the Court of International Trade, alleging that classifications in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States discriminated on the basis of age or gender in violation of the equal protection clause of the Due Process Clause. Those classifications assess different tariff rates depending on whether footwear or clothing is subcategorized as being for youth, men, or for women. The Trade Court dismissed for failure to state a claim. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Where a law is facially neutral, a party pleading discrimination under equal protection must show that the law has a disparate impact resulting from a discriminatory purpose. Proving discriminatory intent requires more than mere awareness of consequences; it would require proving that Congress enacted the classifications “because of, not merely in spite of, [their] adverse effects upon an identifiable group.” View "Rack Room Shoes v. United States" on Justia Law

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This case involved the district court's order requiring the Office of the United States Trade Representative to disclose a classified document describing the government's position during international trade negotiations. The only document that remained in dispute was a white paper referred to in the district court proceedings as "document 1," which consisted of the Trade Representative's commentary on the interpretation of the phrase "in like circumstances." The court concluded that the Trade Representative properly withheld the document as exempt from disclosure under exemption 1 of the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(1), because the white paper was properly classified as confidential. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment. View "Center For Int'l Env. Law v. Office of the U.S. Trade Rep., et al." on Justia Law

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This case arose from a foreign shipping contract billing dispute between Consorcio Ecuatoriano de Telecomunicaciones S.A. (CONECEL) and Jet Air Service Equador S.A. (JASE). CONECEL filed an application in the Southern District of Florida under 28 U.S.C. 1782 to obtain discovery for use in foreign proceedings in Ecuador. According to CONECEL, the foreign proceedings included both a pending arbitration brought by JASE against CONECEL for nonpayment under the contract, and contemplated civil and private criminal suits CONECEL might bring against two of its former employees who, CONECEL claims, may have violated Ecuador's collusion laws in connection with processing and approving JASE's allegedly inflated invoices. CONECEL's application sought discovery from JASE's United States counterpart, JAS Forwarding (USA), Inc. (JAS USA), which does business in Miami and was involved in the invoicing operations at issue in the dispute. The district court granted the application and authorized CONECEL to issue a subpoena. Thereafter, JASE intervened and moved to quash the subpoena and vacate the order granting the application. The district court denied the motion, as well as a subsequent motion for reconsideration. JASE appealed the denial of both. After thorough review and having had the benefit of oral argument, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the orders of the district court. the Court concluded that the panel before which which JASE and CONECEL's dispute was pending acts as a first-instance decisionmaker; it permits the gathering and submission of evidence; it resolves the dispute; it issues a binding order; and its order is subject to judicial review. The discovery statute requires nothing more. The Court also held that the district court did not abuse its considerable discretion in granting the section 1782 discovery application over JASE's objections that it would be forced to produce proprietary and confidential information. The application was narrowly tailored and primarily requested information concerning JASE's billing of CONECEL, which was undeniably at issue in the current dispute between the parties." Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying JASE's motion for reconsideration. View "In re: Application of Consorcio Ecuatoriano" on Justia Law

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American citizen-civilians, employees of a private Iraqi security services company, alleged that they were detained and tortured by U.S. military personnel while in Iraq in 2006, then released without being charged with a crime. Plaintiffs sought damages and to recover seized personal property. The district court denied motions to dismiss. In 2011, the Seventh Circuit affirmed in part, holding that plaintiffs sufficiently alleged Secretary Rumsfeld's personal responsibility and that he is not entitled to qualified immunity. On rehearing en banc, the Seventh Circuit reversed, stating that a common-law claim for damages should not be created. The Supreme Court has never created or even favorably mentioned a nonstatutory right of action for damages on account of conduct that occurred outside of the U.S. The Military Claims Act and the Foreign Claims Act indicate that Congress has decided that compensation should come from the Treasury rather than from federal employees and that plaintiffs do not need a common-law damages remedy in order to achieve some recompense. Even such a remedy existed, Rumsfeld could not be held liable. He did not arrest plaintiffs, hold them incommunicado, refuse to speak with the FBI, subject them to loud noises, or threaten them while they wore hoods. View "Vance v. Rumsfeld" on Justia Law

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In 2008 the Michigan Supreme Court held that the Detroit International Bridge Company was immune from the City of Detroit’s zoning ordinances because it was a federal instrumentality for the limited purpose of facilitating commerce over the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit to Ontario, Canada. The federal government was not a party to the suit. Commodities Export, which owned property near the Bridge, later filed suit against Detroit and the United States, claiming that the Bridge Company had unilaterally condemned roads around its property, cutting off the land and causing a regulatory taking. It claimed that Detroit was liable for failing to enforce its own ordinances and demanded that the United States take a position on the Bridge Company’s federal-instrumentality status and control the Company’s actions. The United States cross-claimed against Bridge Company, alleging that it had misappropriated the title of “federal instrumentality.” The district court granted summary judgment for the United States and dismissed the action. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, stating that federal courts have jurisdiction over the government’s cross-claim and owe no deference to the Michigan Supreme Court’s interpretation of federal common law. Bridge Company is not a federal instrumentality. View "Commodities Exp. Co. v. Detroit Int'l Bridge Co." on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to three federal offenses: conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana; discharging a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The district court sentenced defendant to 220 months' imprisonment and defendant appealed his sentence. The court concluded that the appeal was moot because there was no effectual relief available to defendant. Defendant disputed only whether the district court should have imposed the federal sentence "to run concurrently to the remainder of the undischarged term of imprisonment." At this point, because Missouri discharged defendant's state sentence, there was no longer an "undischarged term of imprisonment." Accordingly, the court granted the government's motion to dismiss the appeal and denied the motion to supplement the record. View "United States v. Harris" on Justia Law