Customs Suit

After working with limited success to address concerns regarding the FY 2006 and FY 2007 distributions of antidumping duties under the CDSOA program, the SSA filed suit at the U.S. Court of International Trade in November 2008. The SSA’s case challenged numerous aspects of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) administration of the CDSOA program. The SSA’s lawsuit also sought to prevent improper distributions for FY 2008. By demanding that CBP comply with the law, the SSA’s litigation sought to increase the distributions to eligible members of the industry by excluding ineligible members, to recapture improper payments, to implement disincentives for abuse and fraud, and to reverse improper legal interpretations that have guided CBP’s disbursements of CDSOA funds.
On May 15, 2009, the Court issued an opinion dismissing ten of the eleven counts of the SSA’s lawsuit, allowing CBP to continue to distribute collected antidumping duties in a manner that does not provide meaningful assistance to the domestic industry. The Court ruled that:
• CBP has total and unreviewable discretion to refuse to investigate claims that are clearly absurd, improper, obviously erroneous and potentially fraudulent.
• CBP can set aside or “hold back” Byrd funds for shrimp purchasers, including importers that did not support the petition for antidumping relief.
• The law is so broad that Byrd funds could be used to offset costs related to the payment of antidumping duties on imported shrimp!
• CBP is not required to ensure that expenditures used in claims for Byrd funds be related to the production or processing of shrimp. In other words, a shrimp purchaser may not need to demonstrate that the expenditures claimed are, in fact, directly related to the processing of any shrimp.

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