On January 12, 2010, the CIT issued its decision in Ford Motor Company v. United States in a dispute over the refund under NAFTA of duties Ford Motor Company (Ford) paid on a representative entry of automotive parts it imported from Canada into the United States. In the underlying dispute, Ford entered the subject goods at the general rates of duty without asserting their eligibility for duty-free treatment under NAFTA. After CBP liquidated the goods as entered, Ford filed a post-entry claim seeking a refund under NAFTA pursuant to 19 USC § 1520(d), which was denied by CBP at the port of entry because Ford failed to provide a Certificate of Origin within the one-year statutory period from the date of importation. Ford subsequently filed a protest to contest this denial, which CBP denied on the same grounds. Ford filed the instant action to challenge CBP’s denial of its protest, invoking jurisdiction under 28 USC § 1581(a).

The CIT ultimately dismissed Ford’s challenge for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The CIT determined that Ford’s claim for a NAFTA refund was invalid as a result of Ford’s failure to timely file a Certificate of Origin. The CIT then concluded that it had no jurisdiction under section 1581(a) because this section requires CBP to reach a “decision” on a protest before a party may sue, and CBP could not reach such a decision in the absence of a claim filed in accordance with law. The CIT further held that jurisdiction under section 1581(i) was improper where jurisdiction “is or could have been available” under another subsection of 1581.