On March 28, 2013, ALJ Theodore R. Essex issued Order No. 3 in Certain Products Having Laminated Packaging, Laminated Packaging, and Components Thereof (Inv. No. 337-TA-874).

In the Order, ALJ Essex first recognized the ITC’s instructions in the Notice of Investigation to “hold an early evidentiary hearing, find facts, and issue an early decision, as to whether the complainant has satisfied the economic prong of the domestic industry requirement.”  See our March 25, 2013 post for more details on the Notice of Investigation.  Significantly, while deciding to follow the ITC’s instructions “at this time,” ALJ Essex noted in the Order that the ITC’s “decision to depart from its own rules and regulations without any justification is of questionable legality.”  ALJ Essex further noted that the ITC “has essentially ordered that the ALJ [must] give this investigation priority over his other investigations…[and therefore the ALJ] will clear his schedule as much as possible in order to meet the [ITC’s] timeline, including but not limited to extending the target dates in other investigations.” 

According to the Order, ALJ Essex outlined a general procedural schedule that contemplates, inter alia, an evidentiary hearing to take place on May 16-17, 2013 and a July 5, 2013 deadline for issuance of the initial determination.  ALJ Essex also directed the parties to meet and confer and file a joint submission on the ALJ’s proposed procedural schedule within 7 days of the Order and further noted that:

Given the short procedural schedule under the [ITC’s] timeline, the ALJ is well aware of the strain this will place on all of the parties’ resources, including their financial resources.  The ALJ will give any and all issues in this investigation priority in order to alleviate that burden as much as possible, including by making discovery conference calls in this investigation a priority and dealing with any necessary motions practice immediately.  Nevertheless, the ALJ has been directed to complete this phase of the investigation within 100 days of institution.  As the ALJ is focusing on meeting the [ITC’s] deadline on this matter, the ALJ expects the parties to also put forth the same effort.