Rulings, remedies and court proceedings for customs and trade professionals

Rail Coupler Importers Say US Opposition to Consolidation Is 'Sandbag' Attempt

Three companies challenging the International Trade Commission's injury finding on Mexican and Chinese rail couplers responded to the ITC's and the petitioner's opposition to their motion to consolidate their cases, arguing that the "result is to sandbag Plaintiffs." Dubbing the ITC's opposition to the consolidation a "highly unusual move," the three companies -- Amsted Rail Co., Wabtec Corp. and Strato -- said that the opposition is "procedurally dubious" and "entirely meritless" (Amsted Rail Ind. v. U.S., CIT # 23-00268; Wabtec Corp. v. U.S., CIT # 23-00157; Strato v. United States, CIT # 23-00158).

Start A Trial

The three companies brought suit to contest, in part, the conduct of Amsted's former counsel in an antidumping duty case (see 2312150065). The attorney joined a new firm that filed a subsequent antidumping duty petition allegedly using information from Amsted, his former client.

After the trio of complaints were filed, the companies moved to join their suits only to be met with opposition from the ITC and petitioner Coalition of Freight Coupler Producers. The ITC and the petitioner said the cases raise "unique" legal issues and that Wabtec's and Strato's cases don't share many claims with Amsted's (see 2402230054).

In response, the companies took umbrage with the fact that the ITC and the petitioner originally took "no position" on the motion to consolidate the cases. In their "unusual" opposition to consolidation, the ITC and the petitioner pointed to the counts in the complaints, "which were already on file at the time Defendants initially took no position," the three companies lamented. The resulting attempt to "sandbag" the companies gave the trio "no opportunity to deal with those concerns informally or address them in the argument accompanying their motion," the brief said.

The three argued that consolidating Wabtec's and Strato's actions with Amsted's "would clearly further judicial economy because every issue raised by Amsted is also raised by the Chinese Respondents." The same conflict-of-interest claim regarding the attorney who changed firms is raised by both Strato and Amsted and all plaintiffs said they will challenge the ITC's definition of "domestic industry and its material injury findings."

The only "genuinely distinct set of claims across the cases" is the "Chinese Respondents’ arguments that the negative determination in" a prior injury proceeding "should have foreclosed cumulation and an affirmative determination in" the present proceeding. "But these claims will hardly dominate the briefing or make the proceedings unwieldy, much less outweigh the benefits of consolidation for all the common issues," since the claims are "largely legal, not factual," the brief said.