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 …

Understanding Payment Liability to Carriers

Kevin Anderson Bills of Lading, Contracts, Transportation

Carriers in the trucking industry lift the heavy load of physically transporting and moving America’s commercial goods. But there are many players involved in getting goods to a carrier, and arranging the details about payment, liability, and more. These arrangements can become quite complex, and may be modified through agreement at different stages. One of the big issues that carriers will often face is regarding payment of freight charges. This is simple when there is only a shipper and carrier, and they deal with each other to move freight. Under that scenario the shipper is fully liable for the freight charges at the time a contract is struck. But what happens when there are subcontractors involved, and the freight charges are not paid? 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Modifying Bills of Lading This issue was addressed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2000, in a case about …

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 …

FAAAA Preempts State Law Claims of Negligent Hiring

Kevin Anderson Employment and Labor, Judgments, Transportation

One of the more prevalent federal laws on the books that deal with trucking and transportation law is the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act. While the name can be misleading (it deals with more than aviation) there is a powerful provision within the FAAAA known as the preemption clause that protects trucking companies from many state and local laws. Like other federal laws dealing with the trucking and transportation industry, the FAAAA is a policy designed to establish one uniform set of rules for trucking companies. This is necessary for a number reasons. First and foremost is the fact that as a country we are made up of fifty different states. Each of those states has its own set of laws that could deal with trucking companies, and questions arise as to which state law applies when a trucking company is going from one state to another. The FAAAA and …

Hiring Drivers: A Critical Decision for any Trucking Company

Kevin Anderson Employment and Labor, Transportation

If you own, operate, manage, or run a trucking company there are probably a million things running through your mind and on your to-do list at any given time. And we are about to add another thing to that list. No doubt you are preoccupied with filling orders, keeping customers happy, and ensuring your company continues to grow, but do not overlook a critical element to your company’s success: the people who work for you. Every company wants to have the very best working for them, and this is particularly true for trucking companies because of the exposure they face on a daily basis. When you hire a driver to go on the road, with your name on your truck, they act as an ambassador for your brand, and nearly all their actions while behind the wheel are tied to your company’s growth and profitability. This is why hiring is …

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. …

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 …

Limits on Liability, Crux of Carmack Cases

Kevin Anderson Cargo Liability, Transportation

More often than not, a Carmack Amendment case comes down to one simple issue, and that issue is one of the most misunderstood in the industry. The crux of the majority of Carmack Amendment cases revolves around whether a carrier properly limited their liability prior to shipment. Obviously in the wake of lost or damaged cargo, the shipper almost always attempts to avoid full liability, while carriers universally affirm liability was limited. This argument surfaces again and again in Carmack Amendment cases, in part, because of nature of the carrier shipper relationship. Anytime a relationship begins between shipper and carrier, the two do not hope or anticipate anything going wrong with the shipment, and expectations are high that the cargo will make it to its destination without any problems. But that is just the sort of thinking that gets carriers into trouble and stuck with giant bills that can break …