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MIAMI FREE ZONE CORP. v. FOREIGN-TRADE ZONES BD.

October 8, 1992

MIAMI FREE ZONE CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
FOREIGN-TRADE ZONES BOARD, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, ET AL., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GERHARD A. GESELL

 Defendant, claiming this Court lacks jurisdiction, has moved to dismiss the complaint, which seeks a review of an action taken by the Foreign-Trade Zones Board. The parties have filed extensive briefs which have been thoroughly considered, along with the Administrative Record.

 Plaintiff contends that this Court has jurisdiction under Section 701 of the Administrative Procedure Act, which entitles a person wronged by agency action to judicial review in this Court, unless review is precluded by statute. 5 U.S.C. § 701(a)(1). Pointing to the same section, defendants contend that the FTZ Act precludes general judicial review of Board action authorizing and awarding an FTZ.

 This Court must determine whether or not the FTZ Act is a statute that precludes judicial review by this Court, which would otherwise be available under Section 701 of the Administrative Procedure Act. The Motion to Dismiss must be supported by "clear and convincing" evidence since general jurisdiction should be accepted absent a definite congressional intent to preclude jurisdiction.

 While the complaint is somewhat general, it attacks the action of the Board in granting a new FTZ which allegedly threatens to affect the business of an FTZ previously authorized and awarded by the Board to plaintiff in the same area. The FTZ Act at 19 U.S.C. § 81r specifically addresses revocation by the Board of an FTZ authorized by the Board and provides in § 81r (c) for direct review by the Court of Appeals for the circuit where the revoked FTZ is located. The FTZ Act does not otherwise mention any other review of Board action by a Court of Appeals, nor does it consider jurisdiction of district courts in § 81r(c) or elsewhere. The FTZ Act is silent as to whether a Board action authorizing an FTZ is reviewable by any court.

 This revocation provision alone suggests lack of jurisdiction in this Court, but it does not constitute "clear and convincing evidence" that Congress intended to bar review of a Board action authorizing an FTC pursuant to Section 701 of the Administrative Procedure Act. It is necessary, therefore, to resolve the motion only after considering the statutory context in which this very specific grant of revocation jurisdiction to the Court of Appeals arose.

 In an effort to avoid jurisdictional conflicts, Congress not only gave CIT full Article III powers but also, by 28 U.S.C. § 1581(i)(4), placed the administration and enforcement of certain international trade laws under the "exclusive jurisdiction" of CIT. CIT thus has exclusive power to enforce and administer all statutes providing for:

 (1) revenue from imports or tonnage;

 (2) tariffs, duties, fees, or other taxes on the importation of merchandise for reasons other than the raising of revenue;

 (3) embargoes or other quantitative restrictions on the importation of merchandise for reasons other than the protection of the public health or safety; . . .

 28 U.S.C. § 1581(i)(1)-(3). Congress granted CIT jurisdiction over these matters "to eliminate the confusion which currently exists as to the demarcation between the jurisdiction of the Federal District Courts and the Court of International Trade." H.R. Rep. 96-3745, 96th Cong., 2d Sess. (1980).

 The legislative history makes clear that the purpose of this section was to broaden the exclusive jurisdiction of CIT's comprehensive authority over trade matters:

 Section 201 of H.R. 6394 added a new section 1581(i) to Title 28, United States Code, granting broad residual jurisdiction to the United States Court of International Trade. This section granted the court jurisdiction over those civil actions which arise directly out of an import transaction and involve one of the many international trade laws. The purpose of this section was to eliminate the confusion which currently exists as to the demarcation between the jurisdiction of the federal district courts and the Court of International Trade. This ...


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