Stupp Corporation v. United States, Slip Op. 19-30

Decision Date07 March 2019
Docket NumberConsol. Court No. 15-00334,Slip Op. 19-30
Citation365 F.Supp.3d 1373
Parties STUPP CORPORATION et al., Plaintiffs and Consolidated Plaintiffs, and Maverick Tube Corporation et al., Plaintiff-Intervenor and Consolidated Plaintiff-Intervenors, v. UNITED STATES, Defendant, and SeAH Steel Corporation et al., Defendant-Intervenors and Consolidated Defendant-Intervenors.
CourtU.S. Court of International Trade

Jeffrey Michael Winton, Law Office of Jeffrey M. Winton PLLC, of Washington, DC, for defendant-intervenor, consolidated plaintiff, and consolidated defendant-intervenor SeAH Steel Corporation.

Elizabeth Anne Speck, Trial Attorney, Commercial Litigation Branch, Civil Division, U.S. Department of Justice, of Washington, DC, for defendant. With her on the brief were Claudia Burke, Assistant Director, Jeanne E. Davidson, Director, and Joseph H. Hunt, Assistant Attorney General. Of Counsel on the brief was Reza Karamloo, Attorney, Office of the Chief Counsel for Trade Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce, of Washington, DC.

OPINION AND ORDER

Kelly, Judge:

Before the court is a motion for reconsideration filed by SeAH Steel Corporation ("SeAH")1 pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Rules of the U.S. Court of International Trade ("USCIT").2 See [SeAH's] Mot. [ ] Reconsideration Ct.'s Jan. 8, 2019 Order, Jan. 28, 2019, ECF No. 127 ("SeAH's Mot."). SeAH requests that the court reconsider its decision sustaining the U.S. Department of Commerce's ("Department" or "Commerce") application of its differential pricing analysis and revise Slip Opinion 19-2, dated January 8, 2019, accordingly. See Stupp Corp. v. United States, 43 CIT ––––, ––––, 359 F.Supp.3d 1293, 1299–1301, 1306–08, 1313, Jan. 8, 2019) (" Stupp I"). In Stupp I, the court addressed various challenges to the final determination in the less than fair value ("LTFV") investigation of imports of welded line pipe from the Republic of Korea ("Korea") for the period October 1, 2013, through September 30, 2014, which resulted in an antidumping duty order ("ADD"). See Welded Line Pipe From [Korea], 80 Fed. Reg. 61,366 (Dep't Commerce Oct. 13, 2015) (final determination of sales at [LTFV] ), as amended by Welded Line Pipe From [Korea], 80 Fed. Reg. 69,637 (Dep't Commerce Nov. 10, 2015) (amended final determination of sales at [LTFV] ) and accompanying Issues & Decision Mem. for the Final Affirmative Determination in the [LTFV] Investigation of Welded Line Pipe from [Korea], A-580-876, (Oct. 5, 2015), ECF No. 30-3 ("Final Decision Memo") ; Welded Line Pipe From [Korea] and the Republic of Turkey, 80 Fed. Reg. 75,056, 75,057 (Dep't Commerce Dec. 1, 2015) ( [ADD] orders). Specifically, in Stupp I, the court denied SeAH's three challenges to Commerce's final determination. See Stupp I, 43 CIT at ––––, 359 F.Supp.3d at 1299–1308, 1313 ; see generally Br. SeAH [ ] Supp. Rule 56.2 Mot. J. Agency R. at 26–50, July 5, 2016, ECF No. 40 ("SeAH's Moving Br."). Relevant here, in Stupp I, the court held that Commerce's application of its differential pricing analysis was in accordance with law and supported by substantial evidence. See Stupp I, 43 CIT at ––––, 359 F.Supp.3d at 1302–06, 1313.3 SeAH contends that Commerce's differential pricing analysis is merely a policy, necessitating Commerce to, on a case-by-case basis, justify and support with substantial evidence, "any factual findings embodied in the ‘Differential Pricing Analysis.’ " SeAH's Mot. at 4. Defendant contends that SeAH failed to demonstrate that the court's determination was the result of "manifest error" and should be denied. See Def.'s Resp. Opp'n Def.-Intervenor [SeAH's] Mot. Reconsideration at 4–5, Feb. 15, 2019, ECF No. 130. For the reasons that follow, SeAH's motion is denied.

JURISDICTION AND STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to section 516A(a)(2)(B)(i) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, 19 U.S.C. § 1516a(a)(2)(B)(i) (2012)4 and 28 U.S.C. § 1581(c) (2012), which grant the Court authority to review actions contesting the final determination in an investigation of an antidumping duty order.

A motion for reconsideration rests within the sound discretion of the court. Yuba Natural Res., Inc. v. United States, 904 F.2d 1577, 1583 (Fed. Cir. 1990). The court will grant such a motion "to address a fundamental or significant flaw in the original proceeding." USEC, Inc. v. United States, 25 CIT 229, 230, 138 F.Supp.2d 1335, 1336–37 (2001) (citations omitted).

DISCUSSION

"[A] motion for reconsideration serves as ‘a mechanism to correct a significant flaw in the original judgment’ by directing the court to review material points of law or fact previously overlooked[.]" RHI Refractories Liaoning Co. v. United States, 35 CIT ––––, ––––, 752 F.Supp.2d 1377, 1380 (2011) (quoting United States v. UPS Customhouse Brokerage, Inc., 34 CIT 745, 748, 714 F.Supp.2d 1296, 1301 (2010) ). Although a court may exercise its "discretion ‘to rectify a significant flaw in the conduct of the original proceeding, a court should not disturb its prior decision unless it is manifestly erroneous.’ " Marvin Furniture (Shanghai) Co. v. United States, 37 CIT ––––, ––––, 899 F.Supp.2d 1352, 1353 (2013) (quoting Dorsey v. U.S. Dep't Agric., 32 CIT 270, 270, 2008 WL 728882 (2008) ). Grounds for finding a prior decision to be "manifestly erroneous" include "an intervening change in the controlling law, the availability of new evidence, the need to correct a clear factual or legal error, or the need to prevent manifest injustice." Ford Motor Co. v. United States, 30 CIT 1587, 1588, 2006 WL 2789856 (2006). A motion for reconsideration, however, is not an opportunity for the losing party "to re-litigate the case or present arguments it previously raised." Totes–Isotoner Corp. v. United States, 32 CIT 1172, 1173, 580 F.Supp.2d 1371, 1374 (2008).

At the root of SeAH's motion is its belief that the court transgressed the principles of administrative law by allowing Commerce to apply its differential pricing analysis without necessitating that Commerce support, with substantial evidence, the "factual findings" that underlay the analysis. See SeAH's Mot. at 1–2. SeAH contends that the court abandoned the substantial evidence standard when evaluating whether the individual components of Commerce's differential pricing analysis can establish the existence of significant price differences constituting a pattern.5 SeAH's motion for reconsideration demonstrates both a misreading of Stupp I and a misunderstanding of how this Court reviews methodologies Commerce develops in response to meeting its statutory obligations.

The relevant statute provides that Commerce may rely on the Average-to-Transaction ("A-to-T") methodology if

(i) there is a pattern of export prices (or constructed export prices) for comparable merchandise that differ significantly among purchasers, regions, or periods of time, and
(ii) [Commerce] explains why such differences cannot be taken into account using a method described in paragraph (1)(A)(i) [ (Average-to-Average) ] or [ (1)(A)(i) ](ii) [ (Transaction-to-Transaction) ].

19 U.S.C. § 1677f-1(d)(1)(B)(i)(ii). As the court explained in Tri Union, neither the statute nor Commerce's regulations direct Commerce on how it is to determine whether the two statutory preconditions have been met. Tri Union Frozen Prods., Inc. v. United States, 40 CIT ––––, ––––, 163 F.Supp.3d 1255, 1297–98 (2016), aff'd, 741 F. App'x 801 (Fed. Cir. 2018) (per curiam). As a result, Commerce developed a methodology, which it calls the differential pricing analysis, to "evaluate whether the conditions for the A-T exception are met[.]" Apex Frozen Foods Private Ltd. v. United States, 40 CIT ––––, ––––, 144 F.Supp.3d 1308, 1316 (2016) (citation omitted), aff'd, 862 F.3d 1337 (Fed. Cir. 2017). "As long as the agency's methodology and procedures are reasonable means of effectuating the statutory purpose, and there is substantial evidence in the record supporting the agency's conclusions, the court will not impose its own views as to the sufficiency of the agency's investigation or question the agency's methodology." Ceramica Regiomontana, S.A. v. United States, 10 CIT 399, 404–05, 636 F.Supp. 961, 966 (1986) (citing Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, 467 U.S. 837, 843, 104 S.Ct. 2778, 81 L.Ed.2d 694 (1984) ; Abbott v. Donovan, 6 CIT 92, 570 F.Supp. 41, 46–47 (1983), aff'd, 810 F.2d 1137, 1139 (Fed. Cir. 1987) ). Further, "complex economic and accounting decisions of a technical nature" that Commerce makes are afforded discretion, the differential pricing analysis constitutes "precisely" that kind of decision, and in reviewing such decisions, this court inquires "whether Commerce's methodological choice in carrying out its directive is reasonable." Tri Union, 40 CIT at ––––, 163 F.Supp.3d at 1300.

Commerce's differential pricing analysis occurs in two stages. The first stage is bifurcated to address two separate questions posed by 19 U.S.C. § 1677f-1(d)(1)(B), namely, whether (i) there are significant price differences and (ii) there is a pattern to the price differences. See Final Decision Memo at 11; Decision Mem. for the Prelim. Determination in the [ADD] Investigation of Welded Line Pipe from [Korea] at 7–8, A-580-876, PD 305, bar code 3277027-01 (May 14, 2015) ("Prelim. Decision Memo"). It is these two determinations—whether price differences are significant and whether those differences form a pattern—that SeAH argues are factual findings embedded in Commerce's differential pricing analysis and for which substantial evidence must be proffered on every record. However, what SeAH refers to as factual findings embedded in the differential pricing analysis are actually interpretative choices Commerce made to implement 19 U.S.C. § 1677f-1(d)(1)(B) because the statutory terms "significant" and "pattern" are undefined and are ambiguous.6 Congress delegates discretion to the agency to make such interpretive choices...

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1 cases
  • Stupp Corp. v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Federal Circuit
    • July 15, 2021
    ...evidence standard applies to "the outputs" of Commerce's statistical analysis, not to Commerce's "interpretation of a statute." Stupp II , 365 F. Supp. 3d at 1378. SeAH's labeling of the differential pricing analysis as a "general policy statement" was inaccurate, according to the court. Id......

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