Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries
Articles Posted in International Trade
Harmoni, the only zero-duty rate importer of Chinese garlic, filed suit alleging that other importers, jealous of Harmoni's competitive edge, conspired to eliminate or reduce that advantage through two separate unlawful schemes in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The first scheme alleged that Chinese competitors submitted fraudulent documents to U.S. customs officials in order to evade applicable anti-dumping duties and then sold garlic in the United States at less than fair value. The second scheme alleged that Chinese competitors recruited domestic garlic growers to file sham administrative review requests with the U.S. Department of Commerce to determine whether plaintiffs were being subjected to appropriate antidumping duties. The Ninth Circuit held that Harmoni has not adequately alleged proximate cause with respect to the first scheme because the relationship between the importers' conduct and Harmoni's injury were too attenuated. However, Harmoni has adequately alleged proximate cause in the second scheme in regard to damages for expenses incurred in responding to the Department of Commerce's administrative review. The panel held that the district court should have granted leave to amend for the loss sales and harm to business reputation claims, as well as the claims against Huamei Consulting. View "Harmoni International Spice, Inc. v. Hume" on Justia Law
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of an antitrust case based on the act of state doctrine. Plaintiffs alleged an antitrust conspiracy between a Mexican salt production corporation 51 percent owned by the government of Mexico and a Japanese entity that held the remaining ownership interest. The panel held that this case was fundamentally a challenge to the United Mexican States' determination about the exploitation of its own natural resources, made by a corporation owned and controlled by the Mexican government. The panel noted that this decision was not a license for courts to dismiss cases on act of state grounds whenever a foreign state-owned enterprise was involved. Rather, the panel held merely that on the facts of this case, application of the act of state doctrine was appropriate to preclude its consideration of the action. View "Sea Breeze Salt, Inc. v. Mitsubishi Corp." on Justia Law
Posted in: International Trade
The Director General of a Mexican government-owned corporation, Exportadora de Sal (ESSA), entered into a long-term, multimillion dollar contract with another Mexican corporation, Packsys, to sell the briny residue from its salt production process. Because the Director General did not have actual authority to execute the contract, ESSA invoked sovereign immunity when a suit was filed in the United States. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Packsys's suit based on lack of jurisdiction. The panel declined to create a new rule that would extend the commercial activity exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) to embrace activities of a foreign agent having only apparent authority to engage in them. The panel also did not accept that principles of ratification or waiver improved Packsys's position. Therefore, ESSA properly invoked sovereign immunity under the FSIA. View "Packsys v. Exportadora de Sal" on Justia Law
Posted in: International Trade
Defendant-appellee William Sloan, a citizen of the United States, and plaintiff-appellant Elaine Murphy, a citizen of Ireland, were married in California in 2000. They lived together in Mill Valley, California, and had a daughter, E.S., in 2005. In October 2009, the couple separated, with Sloan moving to a different bedroom in their house. In 2010, Murphy and Sloan enrolled E.S. in a private California preschool for the next fall. But plans changed in the spring after Murphy proposed moving to Ireland so that she (Murphy) could go back to school. Murphy and Sloan discussed the move to Ireland as a "trial period," and Sloan wrote to both the private preschool and the public school district to inform them of E.S.'s move and the temporary nature of the plan. Visitation between the parents worked for several years until Murphy took E.S. with her on a trip to visit Murphy's boyfriend in Asia. Sloan lost contact with Murphy during that time. On a regularly scheduled visit to E.S. in Ireland, Sloan grew concerned about E.S.'s absences from school when Murphy announced she would again be going to Asia with Murphy's boyfriend. Sloan took E.S. with him to the United States when he left Ireland. Murphy and Sloan agreed that Sloan told Murphy that he did not intend to return E.S. to Ireland, to which Murphy responded that if E.S. was going to live in the United States, Murphy would return to Mill Valley. Murphy took no action to compel E.S.'s return to Ireland for nearly three months, until September 2013, when she filed the action that led to this appeal. E.S. began third grade in Mill Valley in August 2013. In October 2013, the Superior Court entered a judgment dissolving the marriage, but left pending the state court action for purposes of issuing further orders regarding child custody, child support and spousal support. Murphy brought suit under the Hague Convention to compel E.S.'s return to Ireland, contending that Ireland was E.S.'s "habitual residence." The district court denied Murphy's petition after considering Murphy and Sloan's sworn declarations, testimony and documents presented at an evidentiary hearing and depositions of Murphy's boyfriend and an expert witness. It determined that the spring of 2010 was the last time that Sloan and Murphy had a shared, settled intent, which was that E.S. reside in California. The court concluded that "E.S. was, at the time of the alleged wrongful retention, and now remains, a habitual resident of the United States." The issue this case presented for the Ninth Circuit's review explored the significance of a "trial period" of residence on a child's "habitual residence" under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Murphy sought the return of E.S. to Ireland. After review, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court that E.S. was a habitual resident of the United States; "E.S.'s attachments to Ireland 'did not shift the locus of [E.S.'s] development[,] and . . . any acclimatization did not overcome the absence of a shared settled intention by the parents to abandon the United States as a habitual residence.'" View "Murphy v. Sloan" on Justia Law
This criminal antitrust case stems from an international conspiracy between Taiwanese and Korean electronics manufacturers to fix prices for TFT-LCDs. Defendants, AUO, a Taiwanese company, and AUOA, AUO's retailer and wholly owned subsidiary (collectively, "the corporate defendants"), and two executives were convicted of conspiracy to fix prices in violation of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1 et seq. The court concluded that venue in the Northern District of California was proper; defendants waived their jury instruction challenge regarding the extraterritoriality of the Sherman Act; the price-fixing scheme as alleged and proved is subject to per se analysis under the Sherman Act; the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act (FTAIA), 15 U.S.C. 6a, does not limit the power of the federal courts, but rather, it provides substantive elements under the Sherman Act in cases involving nonimport trade with foreign nations; the FTAIA does not apply to defendants' import trade conduct because the government sufficiently pleaded and proved that the conspirators engaged in import commerce with the United States and that the price-fixing conspiracy violated section 1 of the Sherman Act; there was no constructive amendment because the facts in the indictment necessarily supported the domestic effects claim; the evidence offered in support of the import trade theory alone was sufficient to convict defendants of price-fixing in violation of the Sherman Act; the unambiguous language of the Alternative Fine Statute, 18 U.S.C. 3571(d), permitted the district court to impose the $500 million fine based on the gross gains to all the coconspirators; and no statutory authority or precedent supports AUO's interpretation of the Alternative Fine Statute as requiring joint and several liability and imposing a "one recovery" rule. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Hsiung" on Justia Law
This case stemmed from a dispute between the parties over license agreements which allowed Myriad access to Oracle's Java programming language. On appeal, Myriad challenged the district court's partial denial of its motion to compel arbitration. The court concluded that the incorporation of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) arbitration rules into the parties' commercial contract constituted clear and unmistakable evidence that the parties agreed to arbitrate arbitrability. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Oracle America, Inc. v. Myriad Group A.G." on Justia Law
Posted in: Arbitration & Mediation, Contracts, Copyright, Intellectual Property, International Trade, U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
Defendant appealed his sentence stemming from his conviction of importing wire hangers without paying the proper duties. The court concluded that the district court incorrectly applied U.S.S.G. 2C1.1 where defendant did not engage in "improper use of government influence," bribery, or extortion, nor did he conspire to do so. Instead, the district court should have applied U.S.S.G. 2T3.1 for evading import duties or restrictions. In regards to calculations for the amount of loss, the court did not resolve the question of which rates apply to which wire hangers, but left the question for the district court to decide on remand under the proper sentencing guideline. View "United States v. Huizar-Velazquez" on Justia Law
TIRN appealed from the district court's dismissal of its claim on res judicata grounds. TIRN alleged that the State Department failed to satisfy its consultation and environmental assessment obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq., in conducting annual certifications of countries exempted from the general ban on shrimp imports. At issue was whether TIRN's current lawsuit for NEPA and ESA violations was precluded by its earlier lawsuits challenging the State Department's regulations implementing the Section 609(b)(2) of Public Law 101-162 certification process. The court held that because TIRN's current challenge arose from the same transactional nucleus of facts as earlier litigation, res judicata barred its claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court.
Defendant, a citizen of Macau, engaged in efforts to import protected defense articles from the United States into China, without the licenses required by law. Defendant was convicted after a jury trial on four counts of conspiracy and attempt to export defense articles without a license, money laundering, and conspiracy and attempt to smuggle goods from the United States. Defendant challenged his conviction and sentence. The court concluded that venue was proper in the Southern District of California; disagreed with defendant that the Arms Export Control Act, 22 U.S.C. 2778, violated the nondelegation principle; concluded that defendant's conviction on count three must be vacated as a matter of law because attempting to cause an export of a defense article was not a federal crime; defendant's conviction on count four must also be vacated for lack of jurisdiction; and because the district court should have allowed defendant to present evidence of duress to the jury, the court reversed and remanded for a new trial on counts one and two. The court did not reach defendant's arguments regarding his sentence.
This case arose when plaintiff hired defendant to move some of his household goods from southern California to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). When the UAE officials discovered plaintiff's box of firearms and ammunition, they arrested him, imprisoned him for 11 days, and tricked him into pleading guilty to smuggling firearms. Plaintiff alleged that he was facing deportation from the UAE and sued defendant based on various tort and contract theories. At issue was whether defendant could compel plaintiff to arbitrate pursuant to the contract's foreign arbitration clause in its shipment contract. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court and held that the district court correctly interpreted the Carmack Amendment, 49 U.S.C. 14706, to preclude foreign arbitration clauses and the Carmack Amendment, having been enacted subsequent to the federal arbitration statutes, controlled this case.
Posted in: Arbitration & Mediation, Contracts, International Trade, U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals