On October 22, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed and remanded a lower court’s ruling on the issue of attorneys’ fees and litigation expenses in the decade-long lawsuit, Shinyei Corporation of America v. U.S. Invoking the protections of the Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”), Shinyei convinced the U.S. Court of Appeals that the government’s activities related to this litigation were not substantially justified, and therefore, Shinyei was entitled to recoup the attorneys’ fees and litigation expenses it expended throughout the ten years of this lawsuit.
This ruling was the most recent victory for Shinyei in this expansive lawsuit rooted in the U.S. government’s issuance of an antidumping order covering ball bearings imported from Japan. The government’s order imposed certain antidumping duties on ball bearings imported from Japan (and elsewhere), and Shinyei, as an importer of such ball bearings, was impacted by these duties.
For about a year, Shinyei, believing it was complying with the U.S. government’s antidumping order, imported ball bearings and paid corresponding duties at a rate of 45.83%. But, the government subsequently determined that this duty was far too high and should have been in the range of 1.8% to 16.71%. Accordingly, Shinyei was entitled to a substantial refund based upon its overpaying of duties on the ball bearings (as were other importers paying duties at this mistakenly inflated rate). Yet, the government’s efforts to reimburse those importers who overpaid duties on ball bearings inexplicably excluded Shinyei. Entitled to over $2 million in reimbursements, Shinyei filed suit against the U.S.
Eventually persuaded by Shinyei’s case, the U.S. government agreed to reimburse Shinyei, and the parties agreed to a stipulated dismissal. Following the entry of this stipulated dismissal, Shinyei applied for an award for attorneys’ fees under the EAJA. Under this Act, a court shall award to a prevailing party (other than the U.S.) in a suit against the government its fees and other expenses unless the court finds that the position of the U.S. was substantially justified or that special circumstances made an award unjust. Here, after losing on its argument in the lower court, Shinyei successfully persuaded the U.S. Court of Appeals that the U.S. government’s activities failed to meet this “substantially justified” standard. Specifically, the court found that the U.S. government’s unwillingness to pay Shinyei after the government was definitively put on notice of its failure to reimburse for the overpaid duties was unjustified. The U.S. Court of Appeals, therefore, reversed and remanded the case for a determination of the amount of fees and expenses Shinyei is entitled to under the EAJA. Considering this litigation spanned over a decade, this ruling proves highly beneficial to Shinyei.