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United States District Court for the Central District of California
December 10, 2021, Decided; December 10, 2021, Filed
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
Proceedings: (IN CHAMBERS) Order re: Defendant Sigma Corporation's Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law & Alternative Motion for a New Trial [DE 430]
On July 10, 2019, the United States of America ex rel. Island Industries, Inc. ("Island") filed a first amended complaint against Vandewater International, Inc. ("Vandewater"), Neil Ruebens, Anvil International, LLC ("Anvil"), Smith Cooper International ("SCI"), Allied Rubber & Gasket Company ("ARGCO"), and Sigma Corporation ("Sigma"). (See FAC, ECF No. 97.) The complaint alleged violations of the False Claims Act ("FCA") (31 U.S.C. § 3729(a)(1)) and a conspiracy to violate the FCA. (Id.) On September 3, 2019, the Court dismissed the conspiracy claim. (Order re Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 128.) Defendants Anvil, ARGCO, and SCI were subsequently dismissed from the action, and on April 30, 2021, the Court stayed the case as to Defendants Vandewater and Reubens following their bankruptcy filings. (Dismissals, ECF Nos. 165, 338, 370; Order re Stay, ECF No. 374.)
The case proceeded to trial on October 5, [*2] 2021, against only Defendant Sigma on the FCA claim. Two days later, the jury found Sigma liable for FCA violations and awarded $ 8,085,546.03 in damages. (Jury Verdict, ECF No. 421.) Presently before the Court is Sigma's Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law with an Alternative Motion for a New Trial. (ECF No. 430.) For the following reasons, the Court DENIES Sigma's Motion.
II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
In 1992, the Department of Commerce ("Commerce") issued an order imposing antidumping duties ("ADD")1 on "carbon steel butt-weld pipe fittings" from China ("1992 ADD Order"). 57 Fed. Reg. 29702 (July 6, 1992). Sigma began importing welded outlets, which are typically used in fire protection systems, from the People's Republic of China ("China") in 2010. Island manufactures carbon steel butt-weld pipe fittings in the United States for use in fire protection systems. In 2017, Island accused Sigma of making false statements to United States Customs and Border Protection ("Customs" or "CBP") to avoid paying antidumping duties on its imports, in violation of the FCA. Specifically, Island alleged that Sigma falsely stated that its products were duty-free and falsely described its products as "steel couplings," which are [*3] without dispute not subject to the 1992 ADD Order.
After Island filed its lawsuit, Sigma requested a ruling from Commerce to determine whether Sigma's imported products fall within the scope of the 1992 ADD Order. See 19 C.F.R. § 351.225. In 2018, Commerce determined that the "fire protection weld outlets imported by [Sigma] are within the scope of the [1992 ADD Order], pursuant to 19 CFR 351.225(d)" ("2018 Scope Ruling"). Commerce can determine whether a product falls within the scope of an ADD order "based solely upon the application" and the factors described in 19 C.F.R. § 351.225(k)(1)—i.e., perform a "(k)(1) analysis"—which Commerce did in its 2018 Scope Ruling. 19 C.F.R. § 351.225(d). But if a (k)(1) analysis is not dispositive, Commerce must then consider the factors set forth in 19 C.F.R. § 351.225(k)(2)—i.e., perform a "(k)(2) analysis", also known as a "scope inquiry." 19 C.F.R. § 351.225(e).
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 245785 *
United States of America ex rel. Island Indus. v. Vandewater Int'l Inc. et al
Prior History: United States v. Vandewater Int'l Inc., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 220515, 2019 WL 6954316 (C.D. Cal., Aug. 20, 2019)
imports, new trial, matter of law, antidumping, liquidation, products, outlets, welded, knowingly, argues, objectively reasonable, damages, steel
Civil Procedure, Trials, Judgment as Matter of Law, Alternative Motions for New Trials, Judgment as Matter of Law, Jury Trials, Province of Court & Jury, Judgments, Relief From Judgments, Motions for New Trials, Postverdict Judgment, Judicial Officers, Judges, Discretionary Powers, Governments, Federal Government, Claims By & Against, Business & Corporate Compliance, Exports & Imports, Duties, Fees & Taxes, Custom Duties, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Preponderance of Evidence, Weight & Sufficiency