On April 23, 2021, the plaintiff group in the ongoing Section 301 tariff refund litigation at the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction Limited to Suspension of Liquidation of all unliquidated entries of imported products from China appearing on the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s Lists 3 and 4A subject to tariffs pursuant to Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The preliminary injunction motion in this litigation, which now involves more than 3,700 complaints challenging the legality of certain Section 301 duties, makes clear that the plaintiff group does not seek to enjoin or limit the collection of these Section 301 duties and that the U.S. government defendants will continue to collect the duties during the litigation. Instead, the plaintiffs seek injunctive relief to preserve the status quo as to liquidation until the CIT issues a final judgment.
The preliminary injunction motion states that “[t]his motion should not have been necessary” but must be filed because of the U.S. government defendants’ position that the CIT cannot order refunds on liquidated entries. If the CIT were to agree, then, the motion notes, “the immediate need for a preliminary injunction to suspend liquidation is self-evident.” If liquidated entries are ruled to be non-refundable, yet plaintiffs ultimately prevail in this matter, the harm would be the substantial loss of those paid duties found to be illegal. The motion argues that injunctive relief “merely maintains the status quo to protect those sums from becoming irretrievably lost if the Section 301 tariffs are deemed unlawful but the refund remedy is deemed available only with respect to unliquidated entries.” The motion also suggests that the CIT “can and should reaffirm its broad remedial powers to issue refunds irrespective of liquidation status,” referencing numerous U.S. Court of Appeals of the Federal Circuit and CIT precedents on this issue.