Under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Customs) is responsible for classifying merchandise imported into the U.S. and collecting proper duties. But according to officials for Sacramento, Calif.-based Composite Technology International Inc. (CTI), Customs doesn’t always get it right. The company is suing under allegations that certain wood products were misclassified, including stiles, rails and lock blocks, at a levy of 3.3% for products that officials say should be duty free.

As an importer of wood products used in doors, CTI filed protests challenging Customs’ decision to classify some articles of wood as “Other.” The designation included stiles and rails constructed exclusively from laminated veneered lumber (LVL) made of poplar wood, some of which were covered in white paint and/or primer. Additional products called into question include lock blocks made of solid pine, and pine caps.

CTI alleges that the merchandise in question was misclassified in numerous instances, under several categories. The company suggests that pursuant to General Rule of Interpretation 1 of the HTSUS, the items made of painted LVL are provided for under the terms of Heading 4412, HTSUS, because they are similar to veneered panels and laminated wood.

The company filed protests, which were later denied by Customs, followed by a summons challenging that decision.

The current legal action, dated October 12, 2011, refers to products imported under Entry No. M13-1313260-1 — to the Los Angeles, Calif., seaport — along with 29 other entries.

In its request for relief, the company asks that the materials in question be reclassified, and that an order be issued for re-liquidation of the subject entries, free of duty, along with refunds of the excess duties and fees paid, with interest. The case also seeks an award for the costs of attorneys’ fees and other expenses.

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