On January 13, 2015, the Court of International Trade (CIT) dismissed a domestic importer’s challenge to an anitidumping duty assessment because the importer did not file the suit within the statute of limitations. The importer, American Power Pull Corp., imported hand trucks from China, which Customs determined were subject to an antidumping order in April and May 2006. Around this time the importer paid the assessed duty. Then, on August 10, 2012, Customs imposed an additional duty of 145 percent on the merchandise and claimed the importer owed interest and penalties dating back to 2006. The importer filed two protests against this 2012 duty assessment, which were both denied by Customs on June 14, 2013 and October 30, 2013, respectively.
The importer/plaintiff then filed the present action, challenging Customs’ denial of the protests. However, to challenge a denied Customs protest, a plaintiff must commence an action “within one hundred and eighty days after the date of mailing of notice of denial of [the] protest.” Thus, because the plaintiff filed the present action on March 31, 2014, over three months after the 180 day statute had run for the June 14, 2013 denial, the CIT could not hear this claim.
American Power Pull Corp. unsuccessfully argued that this claim should not be barred because they previously filed an action in this court “asserting the same request for review of the protest at issue in this case,” which in their view should have tolled the statute of limitations. This earlier case was filed December 10, 2013 but was voluntarily dismissed without prejudice because the plaintiff had not yet paid the duties it allegedly owed prior to filing this December 10th action. Plaintiff subsequently paid the duties and then filed the March 31 action. However, the Court ruled the voluntary dismissal “render[s] the proceedings a nullity and leave[s] the parties as if the action had never been brought.” Thus, the statute of limitations was not tolled and the plaintiff’s claim could not be heard.