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U.S. Diamond Sawblade Producers Awarded Attorneys' Fees and Costs Against U.S. Department of Commerce

January 27, 2012

The U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) has issued an opinion awarding attorneys' fees and costs to the Diamond Sawblades Manufacturers' Coalition (DSMC) under the federal Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA).  This appears to be only the second instance in which an EAJA award has been made in the antidumping and countervailing duty arena, and the first to award fees and costs to an association of U.S.-based manufacturers.

The DSMC is an ad hoc association of U.S. diamond sawblades producers that petitioned in 2005 for antidumping duty relief relating to sawblades imported from China and South Korea. In 2009, after winning an appeal against the U.S. government's initial determination that antidumping duty orders should not be issued, the DSMC requested that the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) issue orders and begin collecting duties. When Commerce refused, the DSMC petitioned for a writ of mandamus to compel the agency to issue orders and collect duties. This petition was granted by the CIT, and then upheld on appeal. Commerce issued orders and began collecting duties in November 2009.

After an appeals court upheld the mandamus petition, the DSMC asked the CIT for an EAJA award of attorneys' fees and costs incurred in petitioning for mandamus relief.  The EAJA permits an award of attorneys' fees and costs where litigants prevail in cases filed against the government, so long as it is shown that the government's position in the litigation "was not substantially justified." Here, the CIT found that the position taken by DOC in refusing to issue trade orders and collect duties was not substantially justified; the CIT also found that the DSMC otherwise met eligibility requirements for an award.

Daniel Pickard, a partner in Wiley Rein's International Trade Practice and counsel for the DSMC, stated, "I'm very pleased with today's decision, which again vindicates U.S. diamond sawblades producers' right to relief from unfair imports. Litigation to enforce that right has been a significant burden to the DSMC, and to the small, primarily family-owned companies that make up its membership. For all of us who support small businesses in general, and U.S. manufacturers in particular, the Court's decision today comes as welcome news."