On March 31, 2021, the three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) assigned to the litigation involving the potential refund of Section 301 tariffs on certain imports from China issued its fourth procedural order in the proceeding. In the order, the CIT: (1) accepted the first-filed case as the sample case for the proceeding – HMTX Industries, et al. v. United States, et al. filed by Akin Gump — staying all other cases but allowing a plaintiff to move to lift the stay of a particular case if it consults with the other parties and the plaintiff group’s steering committee before filing a motion to show good cause; (2) accepted the plaintiff group’s proposed 15-person steering committee with Akin Gump serving as the CIT’s point of contact; (3) set an April 12, 2021 deadline for a joint status report that will provide a briefing schedule and identify any issues requiring case management intervention; and (4) refused to address at this time the availability of Section 301 tariff refunds regardless of the liquidation status of the subject entries, explaining that no motion is before it and that it “will not issue an advisory opinion on the matter of relief” and encouraging the parties instead to work together to determine if there is injunctive relief that can be effectuated in the “most administratively efficient manner both for the court and for the relevant agencies.” The order followed the plaintiff group’s March 19, 2021 proposal in response to the previous CIT procedural order and the U.S. government defendants’ March 26, 2021 filing in rebuttal.

In a de facto addendum to the March 31, 2021 order, the CIT issued its fifth procedural order on April 1, 2021, clarifying that a plaintiff in a case that has been stayed may amend its complaint “either as a matter of course or with the court’s leave or the opposing parties’ consent.”

Thompson Hine attorneys and trade professionals will continue to monitor and report on significant developments in this litigation.