Showing posts from October, 2016

Essential Identity & Mobile Homes

When I saw that the Court of International Trade issued an opinion in a case called Pleasure-Way Industries, Inc. v. United States , I was hoping for something more salacious than the tariff treatment of mobile homes from Canada. Despite my prurient disappointment, this is an interesting case and raises a couple interesting questions. As with many classification cases, the material facts are not in dispute. The plaintiff purchased Sprinter vans in the United States and exported them to Canada. In Canada, the plaintiff converted the vehicles into motor homes (or possibly the " tiny house " to which I aspire). That conversion included new flooring, cabinets, plumbing (including a toilet and shower), kitchenette, and a propane system. When returned to the US, the plaintiff believes the vehicles should be afforded a duty preference under HTSUS item 9802.00.50 as “[a]rticles returned to the United States after having been exported to be advanced in value or improved in con

Ruling of the Week 2016.20: Bottle Toppers

Ruling of the Week? Who am I kidding? This is number 20 in my 2016 rulings of the week series, not number 43 as it should be. I'll either try to step it up next year or come up with a more truthful name for the series. Today's ruling is HQ H264771 (Jul. 28, 2016) in which Customs trods over ground I thought was well settled and reaches the conclusion opposite from what I might have done. Let's see how that happened. It's a close call, so reasonable minds might differ on this one. The merchandise in question is plastic "SippaTop" bottle toppers. These are plastic, spill-proof, reusable, tops for juice bottles. They are in the form of popular licensed characters and are, therefore, marketed as collectible. According to the company, they give young children more independence and parents more peace of mind, which I take to mean that they don't spill and that keeps everyone happy. The importer entered these in 3923.50.00 as plastic lids, stoppers, caps

Troll Update

I'm Larry Friedman. You may remember me from such blog posts as  Customs Trolls and the False Claims Act . In that post, we talked about the case brought by a company called Customs Fraud Investigations LLC alleging that Victaulic Company had avoided the payment of marking duties by making false statements to Customs and Border Protection. At the time of the first post, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed the case as failing to state a cause of action. The Court subsequently refused CFI's motion to amend its complaint in an effort to correct the deficiency. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has now reversed the District Court and sent the case back down for further proceedings. The case was brought under the False Claims Act.  This law was passed after the Civil War as a means of ensuring that the government was not paying out on fraudulent claims. In a typical FCA case, the "relator" alleges that someone su

Ford Case Transits to Trial

I've been waiting for a potentially block-buster decision in Ford Motor Co. v. United States , which is pending before the U.S. Court of International Trade. We now have a preliminary decision which is interesting, but is not yet in a position to bust any blocks. This case is about the tariff classification of imported Ford Transit Connect vehicles made in Turkey. At the time of entry, all Transits have swing-out front doors with windows, second-row sliding doors with windows, and swing-out rear doors, some of which have windows. The imported vehicles also have two rows of seats, rear passenger windows, rear passenger seat belts, child-locks on the rear sliding doors, a rear cup holders in the front console, a full length cloth headliner, coat hooks, and a map pocket in the second row. Starting in 2010, Ford created a "cost reduced" second row seat for use in Transit vans. The second row seats lack headrests, "comfort wires," a tumble lock mechanism and labels

Shameless Search for Validation

I received an email telling me that this blog is in the running for some kind of recognition among legal blogs in niche or specialty practices. To win, I need readers to vote. So, please do me a solid by visiting this site  and voting for my blog. You'll need to navigate down the page to find The Customs Law Blog. Then click the image of the blog. That will take you to the voting page. Thanks. And, watch this space for a review of a case from the Supreme Court of Canada and some developments involving the False Claims Act.