Judgments, Default and Otherwise
The CIT has issued a few procedural decisions that are worth mentioning.
First, in Universal Steel Products, which we discussed here, the three-judge panel issued an order granting partial judgment on those claims that have been decided. See the prior post for the details of those claims. Partial judgment is possible under CIT Rule 54(b). In this case, the Court found that the previously decided claims were separate from any issues remaining before the Court and that there was no reason to delay entry of judgment. This is valuable for the plaintiff who is now able to file an appeal.
There is a lingering issue of whether the increased tariffs on steel imported from Turkey to 50% from 25% was procedurally flawed because it occurred outside the the statutory timeframe for relief. That issue is stayed pending the final determination in Transpacific Steel.
Next, the CIT issued two default judgments in penalty cases. The first involved a company called E.G. Plastics, Inc. the second involved a company call Green Planet, Inc. A default is what happens when the defendant in a penalty collection suit fails to appear and defend the assessment of the penalty and collection of duties, taxes, and fees. Keep that in mind. Ignoring a penalty case does not make it go away. Defaulting is the legal equivalent of admitting the facts of the complaint. But, the Court does not just accept the government's asserted duty and penalty amounts. However, in these cases, in the absence of any information from the defendant indicating a reason to mitigate the penalty or duty collection, the Court issued judgment in favor of the United States at the amounts asserted.
Finally, in U.S. v. Aegis Security Insurance Co. and Aegis v. Tricots Liesse 1983, the Court ordered that the importer reimburse the surety nearly $800 thousand dollars the surety tendered to the U.S. to resolve a duty collection case. The bond, as one might imagine, included an indemnity agreement under which the importer agreed to reimburse the surety for "any amount paid to U.S. Customs on behalf of [Tricots] and to pay all collection fees and legal costs in the recovery of payments made by the surety . . . ." Given the language of the the agreement and the lack of any facts indicating it should not be enforced, the Court ordered summary judgment in favor of the surety including reimbursement for reasonable attorney's fees, costs, and expenses (which remain to be determined).