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Orlando Food Corp. v. United States

April 06, 1998

ORLANDO FOOD CORP., PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
UNITED STATES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appealed from: United States Court of International Trade

Before Clevenger, Circuit Judge, Smith, Senior Circuit Judge, and Schall, Circuit Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Clevenger, Circuit Judge.

Judge Goldberg

In this classification case, the government appeals from the decision of the Court of International Trade granting summary judgment for Orlando Food Corp. ("Orlando"). Orlando Food Corp. v. United States, No. 94-03-00140 (Ct. Int'l Trade Feb. 10, 1997). *fn1 The Court of International Trade determined that Orlando's imported product was classifiable under either: (1) the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States ("HTSUS") heading 2103, "Sauces and preparations therefor; mixed condiments and mixed seasonings; mustard flour and meal and prepared mustard" ("Sauces and preparations therefor"), subheading 90, "Other," dutiable at the rate of seven and one-half percent ad valorem, or (2) HTSUS hmading 2002, "Tomatoes prepared or preserved otherwise than by vinegar or acetic acid" ("Tomatoes prepared or preserved"), subheading 90, "Other," dutiable at the rate of one-hundred percent ad valorem. Because the product was classifiable under two headings, the court concluded that, under the rule of relative specificity, the product should be classified under HTSUS 2103.90, "Sauces and preparations therefor: other," because it was the more specific of the two headings. See Nestle, 18 Ct. Int'l Trade at 662. The government argues that the court erred in its analysis, and that the goods should be classified under HTSUS 2002, "Tomatoes prepared or preserved." Although we agree with the government that the court erred in its analysis, the court nevertheless reached the correct Conclusion. We therefore affirm the decision of the Court of International Trade.

I.

We review a grant of summary judgment for correctness as a matter of law. See Mita Copystar Am. v. United States, 21 F.3d 1079, 1082 (Fed. Cir. 1994). A classification decision requires two steps. The first step concerns the proper meaning of the tariff provisions, which we review without deference. See Universal Elecs. Inc. v. United States, 112 F.3d 488, 491 (Fed. Cir. 1997). The second step concerns whether merchandise falls within a particular tariff provision, as properly interpreted, and this step is a question of fact that we will not disturb absent clear error. See id.

II.

The product at issue in this case is a canned tomato product consisting of approximately sixty percent whole, peeled tomatoes and forty percent tomato puree by weight, as well as salt, citric acid, and basil leaf. Orlando sold the product to the Nestle Company, which used the product to produce finished tomato sauces including Contadina brand Marinara and Plum Tomato sauces.

The proper classification of merchandise entering the United States is directed by the General Rules of Interpretation ("GRIs") of the HTSUS and the Additional United States Rules of Interpretation. The HTSUS scheme is organized by headings, each of which has one or more subheadings; the headings set forth general categories of merchandise, and the subheadings provide a more particularized segregation of the goods within each category. At issue in this case are two headings of the HTSUS and their accompanying subheadings, which provide in relevant part:

Chapter 20

2002 Tomatoes prepared or preserved otherwise than by vinegar or acetic acid: 2002.10.00 Tomatoes, whole or in pieces 2002.90.00 Other Paste Puree

Chapter 21

2103 Sauces and preparations therefor; mixed condiments and mixed seasonings; mustard flour and meal and prepared mustard: 2103.10.00 Soy sauce 2103.20 Tomato ketchup and other tomato sauces: 2103.20.20 Tomato ketchup 2103.20.40 Other 2103.30 Mustard flour and meal and prepared mustard:

2103.90 Other: 2103.90.20 Sauces derived or prepared from fish 2103.90.40 Nonalcoholic preparations of yeast extract ...


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