Justia International Trade Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Ratha v. Phatthana Seafood Co. Ltd.
Cambodian villagers who alleged that they were trafficked into Thailand and subjected to forced labor at seafood processing factories sued under the civil remedy provision of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, 18 U.S.C. 1595. The Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants.Section 1596 authorizes extraterritorial application of the Act for specific criminal trafficking offenses. Even assuming that section 1595 permits a private cause of action for extraterritorial violations of section 1596's substantive provisions if other requirements are satisfied, certain defendants were not “present in the United States” at any time relevant to the lawsuit as section 1596 requires. Even if section 1596 requires foreign companies to possess nothing more than minimum contacts with the United States, the plaintiffs did not meet that standard. The record did not support either specific or general jurisdiction as a basis for finding minimum contacts. The court rejected an argument that certain defendants were present in the U.S. through an agency relationship or joint venture with a Delaware LLC with its principal place of business in California. The plaintiffs failed to establish a triable issue that a Thai company registered to conduct business in California knowingly benefitted from the alleged human trafficking and forced labor abuses, financially and by accessing a steady stream of imported seafood. View "Ratha v. Phatthana Seafood Co. Ltd." 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
Harmoni International Spice, Inc. v. Hume
Harmoni, the only zero-duty rate importer of Chinese garlic, filed suit alleging that other importers, jealous of Harmoni's competitive edge, conspired to eliminate or reduce that advantage through two separate unlawful schemes in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The first scheme alleged that Chinese competitors submitted fraudulent documents to U.S. customs officials in order to evade applicable anti-dumping duties and then sold garlic in the United States at less than fair value. The second scheme alleged that Chinese competitors recruited domestic garlic growers to file sham administrative review requests with the U.S. Department of Commerce to determine whether plaintiffs were being subjected to appropriate antidumping duties.The Ninth Circuit held that Harmoni has not adequately alleged proximate cause with respect to the first scheme because the relationship between the importers' conduct and Harmoni's injury were too attenuated. However, Harmoni has adequately alleged proximate cause in the second scheme in regard to damages for expenses incurred in responding to the Department of Commerce's administrative review. The panel held that the district court should have granted leave to amend for the loss sales and harm to business reputation claims, as well as the claims against Huamei Consulting. View "Harmoni International Spice, Inc. v. Hume" on Justia Law
Sea Breeze Salt, Inc. v. Mitsubishi Corp.
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of an antitrust case based on the act of state doctrine. Plaintiffs alleged an antitrust conspiracy between a Mexican salt production corporation 51 percent owned by the government of Mexico and a Japanese entity that held the remaining ownership interest. The panel held that this case was fundamentally a challenge to the United Mexican States' determination about the exploitation of its own natural resources, made by a corporation owned and controlled by the Mexican government. The panel noted that this decision was not a license for courts to dismiss cases on act of state grounds whenever a foreign state-owned enterprise was involved. Rather, the panel held merely that on the facts of this case, application of the act of state doctrine was appropriate to preclude its consideration of the action. View "Sea Breeze Salt, Inc. v. Mitsubishi Corp." on Justia Law
Packsys v. Exportadora de Sal
The Director General of a Mexican government-owned corporation, Exportadora de Sal (ESSA), entered into a long-term, multimillion dollar contract with another Mexican corporation, Packsys, to sell the briny residue from its salt production process. Because the Director General did not have actual authority to execute the contract, ESSA invoked sovereign immunity when a suit was filed in the United States.The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Packsys's suit based on lack of jurisdiction. The panel declined to create a new rule that would extend the commercial activity exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) to embrace activities of a foreign agent having only apparent authority to engage in them. The panel also did not accept that principles of ratification or waiver improved Packsys's position. Therefore, ESSA properly invoked sovereign immunity under the FSIA. View "Packsys v. Exportadora de Sal" on Justia Law