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Hartford Fire Insurance Co. v. United States

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

December 1, 2014

HARTFORD FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
UNITED STATES, Defendant-Appellee

Appeal from the United States Court of International Trade in No. 07-CV-00067, Judge Donald C. Pogue.

FREDERIC D. VAN ARNAM, JR., Barnes, Richardson & Colburn, LLP, of New York, New York, argued for plaintiff- appellant. With him on the brief was HELENA D. SULLIVAN.

JASON M. KENNER, Trial Attorney, Commercial Litigation Branch, Civil Division, United States Department of Justice, of New York, New York, argued for defendant appellee. With him on the brief were STUART F. DELERY, Assistant Attorney General, and JEANNE E. DAVIDSON, Director, of Washington, DC, and AMY M. RUBIN, Acting Assistant Director, International Trade Field Office, of New York, New York. Of counsel on the brief was BETH C. BROTMAN, Office of Assistant Chief Counsel, United States Customs and Border Protection, of New York, New York. Of counsel was JUSTIN REINHART MILLER, Attorney, United States Department of Justice, of New York, New York.

Before LOURIE, PLAGER, and WALLACH, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 1282

Wallach, Circuit Judge

Appellant Hartford Fire Insurance Company (" Hartford" ) appeals the final judgment of the United States Court of International Trade (" CIT" ) dismissing its action for failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted. See Hartford Fire Ins. Co. v. United States, 918 F.Supp.2d 1376 (Ct. Int'l Trade 2013). Because Hartford has failed to plead sufficient factual matter to " state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted), this court affirms.

Background

Between July 30, 2003, and August 31, 2003, Sunline Business Solution Corporation (" Sunline" ) imported into the United States eight entries of freshwater crawfish

Page 1283

tailmeat from Chinese producer Hubei Qianjiang Houhu Frozen (the " Hubei Entries" ). The Hubei Entries were subject to an antidumping duty order covering freshwater crawfish tailmeat from China. See Freshwater Crawfish Tail Meat from the People's Republic of China, 62 Fed. Reg. 48,218 (Dep't of Commerce Sept. 15, 1997) (notice of amendment to final determination of sales at less than fair value and antidumping duty order) (" the Order" ).

The Hubei Entries were entered following approval from United States Customs and Border Protection (" Customs" ) of eight single-entry bonds that covered the estimated antidumping duties on the Hubei Entries and designated Hartford as the surety. Hubei was a new shipper of freshwater crawfish tailmeat, and the Hubei Entries were made during the pendency of Hubei's " new shipper review." [1] See Freshwater Crawfish Tail Meat from the People's Republic of China, 67 Fed. Reg. 67,822 (Dep't of Commerce Nov. 7, 2002) (initiation of antidumping duty new shipper reviews). After Hubei's new shipper review was rescinded, meaning Hubei did not qualify for an individual antidumping duty rate, Customs liquidated the Hubei Entries at the 223.01% country-wide rate in effect pursuant to the final results of the relevant administrative review of the Order. See Freshwater Crawfish Tail Meat from the People's Republic of China, 68 Fed. Reg. 52,746 (Dep't of Commerce Sept. 5, 2003) (rescission of antidumping duty new shipper reviews). Following Sunline's failure to pay the duties owed after liquidation, Customs demanded payment from Hartford.

Hartford did not satisfy the demand and instead filed a complaint at the CIT on February 7, 2007, seeking to void its obligations under the bonds securing the Hubei Entries. Hartford alleged the bonds were voidable because Customs had been investigating Sunline for possible import law violations during the period in which the bonds were secured and the Hubei Entries were entered, and Customs did not inform Hartford of the investigation. In particular, in Hartford's Second Amended Complaint filed on September 12, 2012,[2] Hartford alleges, as its single cause of action, that Customs, as obligee on the bonds, abused its discretion by either failing to require a cash deposit in lieu of a bond for the Hubei Entries or by failing to reject the entries altogether. Hartford further alleged, given the confidential nature of Customs' investigation, Customs should have known that Hartford was not aware of the existence of an investigation, and therefore Customs unreasonably

Page 1284

increased Hartford's risk when it approved the ...


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