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Coach, Inc. v. Jin

United States District Court, Third Circuit

October 7, 2013



KEVIN McNULTY, District Judge.

This case arose after the United States Customs and Border Protection agency informed Plaintiffs Coach, Inc. and Coach Services, Inc. ("Coach") that it seized a shipment of counterfeit handbags at Port Newark in September 2009. The shipment's consignee was Defendant Mingliang International Trading, Inc., 132-42 41st Avenue, 1st Floor, Flushing, New York. Coach alleges, based on documents it has obtained, that there have been numerous identical shipments of counterfeit bags, some of which were directed to 132-42 41st Avenue in Flushing. Coach has obtained default judgments or dismissed the complaint as against all defendants but one. ( See ECF Nos. 32-36). As to that remaining defendant, Lin Hu Jin ("Lin"), Coach now moves for summary judgment.

Coach falls woefully short of the standard set forth in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. It has effectively sketched out a basis for investigating Lin, not for entering summary judgment against him. Its motion is denied without oral argument. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b).

Material Facts

i. Lin's connection to this matter

Lin, with his then-wife, leased space at 132-42 41st Avenue in Flushing from 2006 through April 2012. Lin states, and Coach has not disputed, that they were in the business of subletting their entire leasehold to short-term visitors from China, and that their office was located on the first floor. One of the office's phone numbers appears on two of the ten shipping invoices which, according to Coach, pertain to alleged illegal shipments. On this limited factual basis, Coach contends that Lin and the other defendants, who have defaulted, "orchestrated a long-running conspiracy to willfully purchase, import, distribute, offer for sale, and/or sell in the U.S. more than $105 million dollars' worth of counterfeit handbags."

Lin stated, at his deposition, that he is a native of China who came to the United States in 2001, eventually making his way to the Flushing neighborhood of Queens. He married Geng Yun Liu in 2008. They had a daughter together, but divorced in April 2012. (Deposition Transcript at 28:16-31:25, Bigham Cert. Ex. G). Lin stated that over the last several years, he has done a variety of temporary jobs, ranging from restaurant waiter to sushi preparer to furniture hauler. In addition, he and his wife made money by subleasing rooms to Chinese visitors and students. ( Id. at 51:6-57:8). Starting in early 2006, his soon-to-be wife leased the first and third floor of 132-42 41st Avenue, and he assisted her in the business of subletting rooms on those floors. ( Id. at 51:6-52:25; 64:9-15). By 2008, they also leased the fourth, second, and basement floors of the building, for the similar purpose of subletting the spaces. ( Id. at 56:9-60:12; 137:4-139:19). They did not live in the building. ( Id. at 54:12-54:24). Lin also stated that one of the phone numbers associated with the first floor of the building was XXX-XXX-XXXX, and that he and his wife used it as an office line for their subletting business. ( Id. at 110:11-116:24).

In its first amended complaint, Coach makes no specific allegation regarding Lin except to say that Lin "is an individual who resides at 132-42 41st Avenue, Flushing, New York." The complaint also alleges that Defendant Mingliang Jiang resided at the same address and Defendant Mingliang International Trading, Inc. ("Mingliang") used the same address as its primary place of business. It does not allege any further connection between Lin and these Defendants.

ii. The Shipments in Question

Coach has offered uncontradicted evidence that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized 30, 150 counterfeit Coach handbags domestically valued at $162, 004.00 at Port Newark on September 3, 2009 (Bigham Cert. Exs. B, D). CBP stated, in its October 5, 2009 report to Coach, that the "import date" of the merchandise, by way of the vessel "NYK Delphinus, " was also September 3, 2009. CBP estimated that the bags, if authentic, would represent $10.5 million in retail value, and reported that the ultimate consignee of the merchandise was MingLiang International Trading, 132-42 41st Ave., 1st Floor, Flushing, New York, 11355. ( Id. ).

Coach alleges that this shipment of handbags was falsely manifested as 220 cartons of alkaline batteries and that the consignee of the shipment had a phone number of XXX-XXX-XXXX. For this, Coach relies on an Arrival Notice/Freight Notice dated June 16, 2009, which describes a shipment to Mingliang on board the NYK Delphinus, with an estimated time of arrival of June 21, 2009. (Bigham Cert. Ex. E). Coach has not established that this Invoice relates to the shipment seized in September.

Coach also offers notices and invoices evidencing the following ten shipments, all but one of which are described as 220 cartons of alkaline batteries:


Even indulging the problematic assumption that invoice no. 8 relates to the shipment of counterfeit bags seized by CBP in September 2009, this list contains just one other ...

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