Justia International Trade Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Lam-Quang-Vinh v. Springs Window Fashions, LLC
Lam began working at Springs as its senior manager of global trade in 2019. She learned that three of Springs’s manufacturing facilities in Mexico were inaccurately tracking import and export inventories because computer systems were not properly integrated. While attempting to resolve the issue, Lam came to believe that a product Springs imported (cellular fabric blankets) originated in China and not, as the supplier insisted, in Taiwan and Malaysia. Fabrics originating in China were subject to a 25 percent tariff. She claims that she repeatedly stated that the company would need to pay higher tariffs, was “angrily berated,” and was told to continue classifying the fabrics as Taiwanese and Malaysian. She was placed on a performance improvement plan that cited her failure to adequately address the inventory problem, her failure to supplement tariff concerns with a “risk assessment,” a “solution,” or a “process change,” her reliance on outside consultants; and her inability to communicate concisely.Law was ultimately fired and sued, alleging that Springs retaliated against her, in violation of the False Claims Act, over her opinion that the company owed the 25 percent tariff, 31 U.S.C. 3730(h). The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Springs. Springs’s conduct falls short of “harassment” under section 3730(h)(1); Lam has not established a connection between the tariff violations she reported and the decision to fire her. View "Lam-Quang-Vinh v. Springs Window Fashions, LLC" on Justia Law
United States v. Lee
U.S. Customs Officer Parra spent December 8, 2010 “cracking open containers” at a warehouse near the Los Angeles seaport. Opening one from South Korea to inspect its freight, Parra found a fully assembled, five-foot-tall industrial turbo blower. A placard riveted to the side read, “Assembled in USA.” The discovery led to a federal investigation that traced back to Lee. Prosecutors charged Lee with executing a scheme to defraud local governments by falsely representing that his company manufactured its turbo blowers in the U.S. The Seventh Circuit affirmed his wire fraud convictions, reasoning that Lee’s misrepresentations were material under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, 123 Stat. 115 (2009), which includes a “Buy American” provision. The evidence adequately supports Lee’s participation in a scheme to defraud and his intent to do so. Lee used interstate wires as a part of that scheme. The indictment afforded Lee ample notice of the case the government presented at trial and included specific details of the crimes alleged to avoid double jeopardy risk; no impermissible constructive amendment or variance occurred. The court also upheld Lee’s smuggling convictions under 18 U.S.C. 545. The mislabeling served an important function in Lee’s broader scheme to deceive customers about the origin of the turbo blowers. View "United States v. Lee" on Justia Law
Armada (Singapore) PTE Ltd. v. Amcol International Corp.
Plaintiff, a Singaporean shipping company, entered into shipping contracts with an Indian mining company. The Indian company breached those contracts. Plaintiff believes that American businesses that were the largest stockholders in the Indian company engaged in racketeering activity to divest the Indian company of assets to thwart its attempts to recover damages for the breach. Plaintiff filed suit under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1964(c). While the case was pending, the Supreme Court decided RJR Nabisco v. European Community, holding that “[a] private RICO plaintiff … must allege and prove a domestic injury to its business or property.” The district court granted the American defendants judgment on the RICO claims. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Plaintiff’s claimed injury—harm to its ability to collect on its judgment and other claims—was economic; economic injuries are felt at a corporation’s principal place of business, and Plaintiff’s principal place of business is in Singapore. The court noted that the district court allowed a maritime fraudulent transfer claim to go forward. View "Armada (Singapore) PTE Ltd. v. Amcol International Corp." on Justia Law