Justia Legal Ethics Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in International Trade
International Custom Products, Inc. v. United States
Following a request from ICP, Customs issued a Ruling Letter, classifying ICP’s white sauce as “sauces and preparations therefor” under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) 2103.90.9060. Years later, Customs issued a Notice of Action reclassifying pending and future entries of white sauce as “[b]utter and . . . dairy spreads” under HTSUS 0405.20.3000, which increased the tariff by approximately 2400%. After protesting and paying duties on a single entry, ICP filed a claim in the Court of International Trade, alleging the Notice of Action improperly revoked the Ruling Letter without following the procedures required by 19 U.S.C. 1625(c). Since ICP filed its first action in 2005, the CIT has issued five separate opinions on the matter, two of which were appealed to the Federal Circuit. In awarding ICP attorney fees, the Trade Court found that “The record ... establishe[d] that the goverment position was rooted in a desire to avoid the timely revocation process” by using the Notice of Action, rather than following the procedures of 1625(c)(1). The Federal Circuit affirmed the award under the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. 2412(d)(1)(A), upholding the Trade Court’s analysis of whether the government’s conduct was “substantially justified.” View "International Custom Products, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law
VLM Food Trading Int’l, Inc. v. Ill. Trading Co.
VLM, a Montreal-based supplier, sold frozen potatoes to IT in Illinois. After nine successful transactions, IT encountered financial difficulty and failed to pay for the next nine shipments. Invoices sent after delivery included a provision purporting to make IT liable for collection-related attorney’s fees if it breached the contracts. VLM sued; the deadline for an answer passed. The court entered a default. On defendants' motion, the court vacated the default as to IT’s president only. All three defendants then filed answers, contesting liability for attorney’s fees. The judge applied the Illinois Uniform Commercial Code and found that the fee provision had been incorporated into the contract. The Seventh Circuit reversed, holding that the U.N. Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods applied. On remand, the judge applied the Convention and held that the fee provision was not part of the contracts and that IT could benefit from this ruling, despite the prior entry of default. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. IT never expressly assented to the attorney’s fees provision in VLM’s trailing invoices, so under the Convention that term did not become a part of the contracts. VLM waived its right to rely on the default by failing to raise the issue until its reply brief on remand. View "VLM Food Trading Int'l, Inc. v. Ill. Trading Co." on Justia Law
McKesson Corp., et al. v. Islam Republic of Iran, et al.
McKesson first filed suit in 1982 after the Iranian government expropriated the interest held by McKesson in an Iranian dairy company. At issue now is the $13.4 million in attorney's fees the district court awarded McKesson. This appeal turns on the applicability vel non of Article 518 of the Iranian Civil Procedure Act of 2000. The court read Article 518's plain language to provide that "decided by the court" applies only "[i]n the instances where the amount of [attorney's fees is] not fixed in the law or official tariff." Article 518 provides a general rule that courts must use an official tariff or other amount fixed by law in awarding attorney's fees. The court has discretion only when the tariff does not apply. In this instance, the court concluded that the official tariff applies. Iran contends that, applied to McKesson's $29.3 million judgment, the tariff yields a fee award of $29,516. McKesson does not dispute the calculation. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's fee award and instructed the district court on remand to grant McKesson $29,516 in attorney's fees.View "McKesson Corp., et al. v. Islam Republic of Iran, et al." on Justia Law
Posted in: International Trade, Legal Ethics