597 F.Supp. 510 (CIT. 1984), 84-4-00858, United States v. Gold Mountain Coffee, Ltd.

Docket Nº:Court No. 84-4-00858, Slip Op. 84-117
Citation:597 F.Supp. 510
Party Name:The UNITED STATES, Plaintiff, v. GOLD MOUNTAIN COFFEE, LTD., et al., Defendants.
Case Date:October 16, 1984
Court:Court of International Trade

Page 510

597 F.Supp. 510 (CIT. 1984)

The UNITED STATES, Plaintiff,


GOLD MOUNTAIN COFFEE, LTD., et al., Defendants.

Court No. 84-4-00858, Slip Op. 84-117

United States Court of International Trade.

Oct. 16, 1984

Rehearing Denied Dec. 17, 1984.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Richard K. Willard, Acting Asst. Atty. Gen., David M. Cohen, Director, Commercial Litigation Branch, Kevin C. Kennedy, Civ. Div., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., for plaintiff.

Barnes, Richardson & Colburn, New York City (Andrew P. Vance, Michael A. Johnson, John J. Galvin and Carl J. Laurino, Jr., New York City), for defendants.



Plaintiff filed a cause of action under 18 U.S.C. § 545 (1982) and § 592 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, 19 U.S.C. § 1592 (1982), alleging that defendants improperly labeled coffee imported from Indonesia as coming from China. Plaintiff seeks both a penalty equal to the value of the improperly labeled coffee (alleged to be $4,961,673) and a forfeiture of the goods.

This case is before the court on defendants' motion to quash plaintiff's amended warrant for arrest of property. Previous to issuance of the arrest warrant, the Customs Service and defendants entered into a

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constructive seizure agreement governing control of the coffee beans.

Plaintiff obtained the warrant for arrest of the coffee beans pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2461(b) (1982), which authorizes use of admiralty procedures for seizure of goods in nonadmiralty forfeiture actions when appropriate procedures are not otherwise provided for by an Act of Congress. 1

In admiralty, issuance of an arrest warrant by the clerk of the district court is the correct method of seizing goods so that an in rem forfeiture action may proceed. Rule C(3) of the Supplemental Rules for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims. In order to decide whether § 2461(b) and, consequently, Rule C(3) apply to this action, their application must be analyzed both in the context of § 545 actions and in the context of § 592 actions.

Section 545 generally provides for forfeiture of goods smuggled into the United States in violation of that section. 2 Forfeiture of goods is not an automatic part of a § 545 criminal conviction. United States v. Brigance, 472 F.Supp. 1177, 1181 (S.D.Tex.1979). Rather, obtaining a § 545 forfeiture requires separate civil in rem proceedings. Id.

Plaintiff asserts that this court has ancillary jurisdiction over a § 545 forfeiture action when it is brought in conjunction with a § 592 penalty proceeding.

The United States Court of International Trade, like all federal courts established under Article III of the Constitution, is a court of limited jurisdiction. United States v. Biehl & Co., 3 CIT 158, 162, 539 F.Supp. 1218, 1221 (1981). Once jurisdiction is challenged, [8 C.I.T. 249] plaintiff has the burden of proving that jurisdiction in this court is proper. Id. at 160, 539 F.Supp. at 1220.

Jurisdiction over forfeiture actions lies generally with the district courts. 28 U.S.C. § 1355 (1982). 3 However, the district court's jurisdiction in these actions does not include matters within the jurisdiction of this court under 28 U.S.C. § 1582 (1982). Id. Section 1582 grants exclusive jurisdiction to this Court of "any civil action which arises out of an import transaction and which is commenced by the United States--to recover a civil penalty under section 592 ... of the Tariff Act of 1930 ...." Plaintiff argues that since the § 545 action in this case arises out of the same transaction alleged in the § 592 action, "common sense" dictates that this court apply the doctrine of ancillary jurisdiction to hear the § 545 claim.

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As plaintiff correctly points out, ancillary jurisdiction should attach when four conditions are satisfied: (1) the ancillary matter arises from the same transaction that is the basis of the main proceeding, or arises during the course of the main matter, or is an integral part of the main matter; (2) the ancillary matter can be determined without a substantial new fact finding proceeding; (3) determination of the ancillary matter will not deprive a party of a substantial procedural or substantive right; and (4) the ancillary matter must be resolved to protect the integrity of the main proceeding or to insure that disposition of the main proceeding will not be frustrated. Morrow v. District of Columbia, 417 F.2d 728, 740 (D.C.Cir.1969); Dillon v. Berg, 347 F.Supp. 517, 519 (D.Del.1972).

Although it may be appropriate in some instances for this court to exercise ancillary jurisdiction, the court will not exercise those powers here. First, the concept of federal ancillary jurisdiction, which developed where state court causes of action were involved, should be applied carefully when a conflict involving purely federal jurisdiction is concerned. See, e.g., Atl, Inc. v. United States, 4 Cl.Ct. 672, 676 (1984), aff'd, 735 F.2d 1343 (Fed.Cir.1984), citing United States v. King, 395 U.S. 1, 3, 89 S.Ct. 1501, 1502, 23 L.Ed.2d 52 (1969); Freese v. United States, 221 Ct.Cl. 963, 964-65 (1979) (both cases finding no ancillary jurisdiction). 4 The court must not upset the jurisdictional scheme among the federal courts, over which Congress has full control. This is especially true in this case, where Congress has had a recent opportunity to review the jurisdiction of this court and did not give it jurisdiction over § 545 in rem forfeiture actions. 28 U.S.C. § 1582; see also S.Rep. No. 778, 95th Cong., 2nd Sess. 19, reprinted in 1978 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News 2211, 2230 (discussing § 592).

Second, although the actions are closely related, this court can fully and effectively dispose of the § 592 penalty action without considering all of the issues involved in a parallel § 545 proceeding. 5 Resolution of the § 545 claim need not be resolved to protect the integrity of the § 592 proceeding or "to insure that disposition of the [§ 592] proceeding will not be frustrated." 6 In the absence of such necessity, convenience to a party, efficient use of judicial resources, or even one party's judgment as to what constitutes "common sense" 7 is

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not sufficient ground to exercise this court's potential ancillary jurisdiction. Hence, none of these factors suffices to meet plaintiff's burden in establishing jurisdiction in this court of the § 545 claim asserted here.

While plaintiff may be free to pursue a § 545 action in district court and to obtain an arrest warrant pursuant to § 2461(b) in that court, this court has no jurisdiction over the § 545 claim asserted here ( see 28 U.S.C. § 1582); therefore, an arrest warrant may not be issued pursuant to that section in this court. Consequently, all references to 18 U.S.C. § 545 are stricken from the complaint and the propriety of the government's arrest of the coffee beans must be evaluated under its second cause of action, that set forth in 19 U.S.C. § 1592.

Plaintiff argues that because § 1592(c)(5) does not require the return of restricted goods that are seized, forfeiture of such goods is authorized under § 1592, apart from any monetary penalty. 8 Plaintiff would expand the language of § 1592 governing interim remedies into a permanent forfeiture in every § 1592 case involving restricted merchandise, whether fraud is involved or not. Congress' intent to remove the general in rem forfeiture provisions of the former § 592 is made clear in S.Rep. No. 778, 1978 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News at 2230, which states:

The penalty for violation of section 592 would be changed from an in rem...

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