The Carmack Amendment: A Complete Defense to State Law Claims

Kevin Anderson Cargo Liability, Transportation

One of the many benefits that interstate trucking companies enjoy is that they are regulated, mainly, by federal law. This means that there is one set of rules, laws, regulations, and rulings that generally dictate how they should operate their business. Of course there are exceptions to this general rule, such as state wage, insurance, and benefits laws. But generally federal law is the arena trucking companies operate in. One of the most important laws in the framework of federal rules and regulations is known as the Carmack Amendment. 49 U.S. Code § 14706. That is the federal policy which establishes liability for lost, stolen, or damaged goods being transported interstate. The policy states that carriers are liable for such losses in almost all cases. Defenses Against State Law This can be a harsh pill for carriers to swallow, particularly due to the nature of the transportation industry. To be …

Federal Circuit Court Dismisses Appeal for $9 Million in Stolen Medications

Kevin Anderson Cargo Liability, Transportation

Stolen cargo is one of the worst things that can happen to a truck driver, company, and shipper. Not only is the lost freight a financial loss to the different parties, but in most cases freight is designated for shipment because it will be required for use upon arrival. As a result, lost or stolen freight can seriously hamper other related business ventures. In most cases when freight is lost, damaged, or stolen, the carrier responsible for shipping the freight must pay the costs associated with the loss. This is because of a national policy known as the Carmack Amendment. 49 U.S. Code § 14706. This law makes it clear that once a shipper entrusts their cargo with a carrier, the carrier has the burden of ensuring it gets to the destination, and must pay the damages if it does not. Carmack Amendment Liability is Not Absolute This national policy …

Interstate or Intrastate? How to Apply the Carmack Amendment

Kevin Anderson Cargo Liability, Transportation

The federal law regulating the movement of commercial items from state to state is the Carmack Amendment. It is a federal policy placing the burden of replacing lost, damaged, or stolen goods squarely on the shoulders of interstate carriers shipping those goods. It is an important law because it establishes a national policy to deal with these kinds of losses in a country where a large portion of our commerce is shipped interstate. This is a straightforward national policy, and one that most trucking firms know and understand. But the applicability of the Carmack Amendment can become quite complex depending on the facts of a given situation. That is why every trucking company needs to have access to a law firm that knows how and when the Carmack Amendment applies. Interstate Shipment or Intrastate One such situation that can become complex is when the Carmack Amendment applies because a shipment …

Jurisdictional Requirements for Carmack Amendment Claim

Kevin Anderson Cargo Liability, Transportation

The Carmack Amendment is a federal law and policy enacted to provide a uniform system of liability for lost, stolen, or damaged goods transported across state lines by a carrier. This is an area of law that the federal government has completely occupied, and it therefore preempts any state laws dealing with such claims based on state laws. Meaning, if as a carrier you are sued in state court over damages to cargo you shipped, then it should be removed to federal court. Removing a damaged goods or cargo case to federal court is important to carriers for a number of reasons. In the first instance, state laws can often impose extra penalties and cases can quickly become more expensive than they should. Once a case is in federal court and the Carmack Amendment is being applied, it is straightforward and can be dealt with on a uniform basis. Threshold …

Preempting a Personal Injury Claim With the Carmack Amendment

Kevin Anderson Cargo Liability, Judgments, Transportation

A case involving a charity, broken legos, and severe personal injuries recently made its way to federal court, and tested the limits of preemption and the Carmack Amendment. The case is an example of just how important, and imposing, the Carmack Amendment is. It is also an example of how different circuit courts are split on the issue of personal injuries and the Carmack Amendment. The case revealing these different lessons was decided in Pennsylvania in November. That case, Krauss v. Iris, involved an autism charity and their wish to have a load of Lego toys delivered across the country. To do so, they bought the goods from a company in Wisconsin and arranged through them to deliver the goods. It was at this point that the delivery went south, and the allegations underlying the lawsuit arose. The shipper in this case sent very strict instructions on how the goods …

The Condition of Goods at Shipment and the Carmack Amendment

Kevin Anderson Cargo Liability, Transportation

The Carmack Amendment is a federal policy aimed at ensuring an across-the-nation principle of liability for the trucking industry. This is the law that applies anytime an interstate shipment of goods is lost, stolen, or otherwise damaged while in transit, and it is fairly straightforward in assigning liability in most cases. This predictability and uniformity has helped grow the trucking and transportation industry into the economic behemoth we have today. In the vast majority of cases involving lost, damaged, or stolen goods, the carrier will face liability for the losses that occur. This policy put the responsibility on the carrier to ensure goods are delivered safely to their destination. Were it not so, the shipper would be more hesitant to ship goods with other companies, and the flow of commerce would be slowed considerably. Basic Case for Carmack Amendment Liability Under the provisions of the Carmack Amendment, there are three …

The Carmack Amendment and a Clean Bill of Lading

Kevin Anderson Bills of Lading, Cargo Liability, Transportation

For those involved in the trucking industry, it is only a matter of time before a shipper makes a claim for lost, stolen, or damaged cargo. When that happens the claim comes under the provisions of the Carmack Amendment, as long as the goods were shipped interstate. This federal policy is a national policy with established rules that should determine what the rights and obligations of the shipper and carrier are in any given situation. The federal policy of liability for truckers is important for predictability and certainty in the industry, and it has several elements to it that must be met before a claim can go forward. In a recent case from Ohio, a federal court dealt with a trucking company and the claimed loss of tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment due to damage in the course of its transportation. Proof of Condition in the Goods …

A Primer on Damages and the Carmack Amendment

Kevin Anderson Cargo Liability, Transportation

For those involved in the trucking industry, there is always a chance that the goods being transported could be lost, damaged, or stolen while in transit from point A to point B. And when those goods are being transported from one state to another, some may ask which state law should apply to resolve the issue. But thanks to a national policy, there is no need to ask that question. That national policy that provides for what happens when trucking goods are lost, damaged, or stolen is known as the Carmack Amendment. It is a federal law, codified at 49 U.S. Code § 14706, and since its enactment it has provided the trucking and transportation industry with stability and predictability when it comes to mitigating the loss that inevitably happens over the road. But even this national policy can have some variations from one area of the country to another. …

Elements of Basic Carmack Amendment Case in Federal Court

Kevin Anderson Cargo Liability, Transportation

The Carmack Amendment is a federal law that establishes a uniform policy of liability for lost, damaged, and stolen goods shipped from one state to or through another. But before a case can proceed to trial, or before a shipper can make a claim under the Carmack Amendment, the shipper must first show a basic case, or as it is known in the law, a prima facie case. Once a basic case is shown, it usually goes to trial or is settled out of court. The elements of a basic Carmack Amendment case are established by two sources of law. The original and most authoritative source comes from the federal code. And the Carmack Amendment is codified in 49 U.S. Code § 14706. But federal statutes are not the only source of rules and regulations on the Carmack Amendment because there are too many provisions that need to be interpreted …

Subcontractor Causes Troubles for Motor Carrier

Kevin Anderson Cargo Liability, Contracts, Transportation

The old adage of you are only as strong as your weakest link holds true with the link of different players that are typically involved in shipping goods from one state to another. Because of these complex relations, one breakdown with one or more of the players can put a company at risk, and cause severe damage to reputations, bottom lines, and company survival. This was the lesson learned as a trucking company lost an entire truckload of lobster recently. A news report from Massachusetts explains that a trucking company is being sued over a lost or stolen load of lobsters that could cost that company hundreds of thousands in legal fees and damages. The story reports about a lawsuit filed in federal court in Massachusetts that is claiming the shipping company is liable for an entire load of lobsters that was supposed to end up in California, but was …