Developments in the HMTX Court Case Filed in the CIT

Initial Complaint

As discussed in our previous Blog articles, on September 10, 2020, HMTX Industries LLC filed a summons and complaint at the Court of International Trade (CIT) challenging the authority of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to impose Section 301 China Tariffs on imports falling under List 3 which were effective September 24, 2018. 

ITC will continue to monitor the HMTX case – the most tumultuous action filed in the CIT in decades. Approximately 3500 cases have been filed in the CIT on the heels of the HMTX filing.

Three-Judge Panel

On September 30, HMTX and its co-plaintiffs, through a legal motion, asked the CIT to assign a three-judge panel to hear the case. Attorneys for the US have signaled they are going to oppose this.

In the brief supporting their motion, plaintiffs stated that their action i) satisfies the court rules’ criterion of “having broad or significant implications” in the administration of the customs laws, and ii) raises a question of an “exceptional nature.”

Case Management Model

The DOJ is advising the CIT to implement a case management approach in order to lessen the confusion surrounding the thousands of separately filed cases challenging the 301 China Tariffs. Chiefly, the DOJ would like to see the Court select a test case or cases while the remainder will be suspended. Additionally, a Steering Committee of plaintiffs’ counsel would be authorized to coordinate the actions of the thousands of plaintiffs. There would be limited opportunity for the filing of mini briefs by those who are not test case plaintiffs. The plaintiffs are of like mind and would also like the government to commit to a refund mechanism if plaintiffs are successful. In fact, plaintiffs have asked that the 1990s Harbor Maintenance Tax case (US Shoe) procedures serve as a protoype: case management by a single judge and the substantive legal questions handled on the merits by a three-judge panel.

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