Showing posts from February, 2016

Discovery Dispute at the Court of International Trade

Discovery is the legal process through which each side to a law suit asks the other side to disclose the facts relevant to the claims and defenses. It usually consists of depositions of knowledgeable witnesses, written questions and requests for production. Discovery disputes are unusual in customs litigation. More often than not, the parties can reach an agreement on the material facts. The dispute is usually, but not always, over the conclusions to be reached from those facts after the applicable law is properly interpreted. When a discovery dispute does arise, people notice (and by "people" I mean "me"). Meyer Corporation, U.S. v. United States  is about a discovery dispute. The underlying issue is that Customs and Border Protection audited Meyer and determined that its application of the first sale methodology of valuation was unacceptable. If you don't know what that means, go back and read this classic post from 2005. Customs also denied duty-free claim

Ruling of the Week 2016.5: Kaboom! Project Management Fees

There used to be a time when I was able to keep this blog up, make each post funny, and occasionally interesting to the customs compliance pros. But, as periodically happens, then I get busy. It turns out that this is week 8 of 2016 and I am about to post ROTW number 5. I am not happy about that. Let's see what we can do to catch up. Today's ruling is HQ H270670 (Feb. 17, 2016)  and continues our focus on value questions. Value is complicated enough to make many compliance professionals quake . The ruling involves purchases by "The Cereal Company" of premiums or toys. The only Cereal Company I can find online purports to be in Zambia. Thus, my assumption is that the Cereal Company is a pseudonym for an actual cereal company and that these toys are headed into boxes of puffed sugar and artificial color. This case is honeycombed with players. The Cereal Company buys the toys from suppliers in China. An unrelated third party in the U.S. called Insight Promotions

Is it Deja Vu, Again?

[Updated because sometimes proofreading is useful. I corrected some typos and clarified a bit.] The Court of International Trade has been asked to decide the classification elfa-brand racks and hanging standards made of epoxy-bonded steel for the Container Store . No, this is not a repeat and you are not experiencing legal Deja vu. The issue has been raised again. The interesting point is that the result has changed, so read on. Before we get too far down this rabbit hole, re-read this post on stare decisis at the Court of International Trade. It is useful background. Then, here is my post on the prior Container Store case. There are two items at issue in this case. elfa top tracks and hanging standards. The top tracks look like this: The top track can be screwed into place on a wall or other surface and serves an an anchor for the handing standards, which look like this when attached to the top track: The hanging standard lets consumers attach components such as shelve

Ford Motors and the Missing $6.2 Million

One would think that if everyone involved agreed that the United States federal government owes a taxpayer a refund of over $6 million that the government would pay it. One would hope that would not be controversial. Unfortunately, it is and it points up a problem in litigation. This thought is brought to you by Ford Motor Company v. United States , in which the Federal Circuit refused to order Customs and Border Protection to pay Ford the refund. Instead, the issue was sent back to the Court of International Trade for another round of litigation. The background on this case is complicated and a bit of a mess. Ford imported some Jaguar cars and deposited estimated duties at the time of entry. It must have flagged the entries for ACS Reconciliation because it subsequently filed nine reconciling entries seeking a $6.2 million refund. The reconciliations were filed between June of 2005 and October of 2006. Normally, Customs has a year to liquidate the entry and can extend that time b

Ruling of the Week 2016.4: Curtis Stone's Chop Chop

Here is something you may not know about me . . . I watch competitive cooking shows the way a normal guy watches baseball. As far as I am concerned, Alton Brown is the Kenesaw Mountain Landis of cooking and Ted Allen is its Howard Cosell . Consequently, when a ruling ( HQ H266149 (Oct. 21, 2015) ) from Customs and Border Protection invokes the name of Curtis Stone , I pay attention. In this case, the question was the tariff classification of "the Curtis Stone Chop Chop Deluxe Food Chopper." Exhibit A: I suspect someone at Customs is a fan because the sentence "Curtis Stone is a celebrity chef from Australia," is irrelevant to the issue. It is, however, a true statement. As you can tell from the picture, this is a hand powered chopper with interchangeable blades. The top handle presses down, pushing the food item through the blade and into the receiving container. Simple. The goods entered the United States classified in 8205.51.30 (3.7%) as handtools