Friday, May 30, 2008

U.S. Court of International Trade - Trade Adjustment Assistance

Schwinn Professor Steven Schwinn, a colleague of mine at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, has just won a trade adjustment assistance appeal before the U.S. Court of International Trade in New York.  He was assisted in the case by Clayton P. Solomon, who is listed as co-counsel on the decision and who appeared with the consent of the court pursuant to the U.S. Court of International Trade Order 06-01. 

The case is T.R.W. Inc. v. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Slip Op. 08-59 (May 29, 2008), involving an appeal from the denial by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for cash benefits under the statute that authorizes trade adjustment assistance (TAA) for farmers, 19 U.S.C. 2401e.  Click here to see the decision.

The plaintiff was a family-owned shrimping company operating off the Texas Gulf Coast since the early 1970s.  The plaintiff alleged that its business has been suffering since 1984 because of increased competition from imports.  In 2003, the Texas Shrimp Association successfully petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture for TAA cash benefits as authorized by the statute.  That certification was renewed in 2004.  The plaintiff did not apply for TAA benefits under the original certification, but it did apply under the recertification.  In support of its application, the plaintiff submitted financial documentation and its tax returns -- but the taxable years were different and did not show that the plaintiff's net income declined over the applicable periods of eligibility.  After a voluntary remand in which the Department considered additional financial information, the application for benefits was again denied.  The plaintiff alleged that the department failed to review tax returns from consecutive years and failed to look beyond net income as reported in the tax returns. 

The Court of International Trade found that the department's regulations authorized financial comparisons that were not authorized in the trade adjustment assistance statute.  The court also reminded the agency that the determination of net income is not to be made solely on the basis of tax return information if other information is relevant in determining net income from all sources.  The court remanded the decision to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Under the court's order, remand results are due on or before August 26, 2008.  The decision was issued by Judge Richard K. Eaton of the U.S. Court of International Trade.


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