On December 11, 2013, Chief ALJ Charles E. Bullock issued the public version of Order No. 11 (dated November 21, 2013) containing his Initial Determination granting-in-part Complainants Toyo Tire & Rubber Co., Ltd., Toyo Tire Holdings of America, Inc., Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp., Nitto Tire U.S.A. Inc., and Toyo Tire North America Manufacturing Inc.’s (collectively, “Toyo”) motion to amend the complaint and notice of investigation to add Shandong Hengyu Science & Technology Co., Ltd. (“Shandong”), Group A Wheels, and Auto Trend Tire and Wheel, Inc. (“Auto Trend”) as Respondents in Certain Tires and Products Containing Same (Inv. No. 337-TA-894).
According to the Order, Toyo argued that when it filed the complaint, the only entity associated with the “TW” manufacturer code in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Manufacturers’ Information Database (“NHTSA Database”) was Respondent Weifang Shunfuchang Rubber & Plastic Co., Ltd. (“Weifang”). Toyo claimed that Weifang informed Toyo that it never produced the Pioneer A/T tire and with Weifang’s assistance, Toyo subsequently learned that Shandong shares the “TW” manufacturer code. Toyo therefore believed that Shandong, not Weifang, manufactures the accused Tri-Ace Pioneer A/T tire, and argued that Shandong’s inclusion would help in obtaining discovery and affording Toyo “effective relief” by allowing adjudication in a single investigation. The Commission Investigative Staff (“OUII”) submitted that good cause existed to add Shandong because Toyo’s prior reliance on incomplete information in the NHTSA Database appeared reasonable. ALJ Bullock agreed with Toyo and OUII, noting that the procedural schedule was only recently set and discovery is in the early stages, and that Shandong will have adequate time to participate in the investigation and not suffer any prejudice by being added. Accordingly, the ALJ granted the motion as to Shandong.
Toyo also argued that it was unaware that Group A Wheels and Auto Trend sell the accused Mark Ma Dakar M/T tire until after it filed the complaint. Upon learning this information, Toyo stated that it purchased samples of those tires from Group A Wheels and that the purchase was fulfilled by Auto Trend. OUII found Toyo’s arguments for adding Group A Wheels and Auto Trend to be less detailed than those for Shandong, but nevertheless supported Toyo’s motion in this regard as well. ALJ Bullock, however, was unpersuaded, finding that Toyo failed to provide any explanation as to why it could not have discovered the information prior to filing the complaint. The ALJ also observed that Toyo would not be prejudiced by denying the motion as to Group A Wheels and Auto Trend since Toyo remains free to bring any allegations against those entities in a new complaint. Thus, the ALJ denied the motion as to Group A Wheels and Auto Trend.