Attorneys recently defeated a motion for summary judgment in a maritime cargo case
Attorneys recently defeated a motion for summary judgment in a maritime cargo case. Our client insured forklifts and front-end loaders which were destined for intermodal transportation from Ohio to three locations in Australia. Enroute to Long Beach, California where the cargo was to be loaded on a containership, the train transporting the cargo derailed. The cargo was declared to be a total loss and was destroyed. Suit was filed against the intermodal carrier. The intermodal carrier impleaded the rail carrier. The rail carrier moved for partial summary judgment to limit any liability it may have pursuant to the United States Carriage of Goods by Sea Act which was incorporated as one of the terms in the Bill of Lading. The rail carrier argued that each of the 27 vehicles being shipped was a small amount COGSA package and plaintiff's damages were thus capped under the demand. The attorneys' argued that the Carmack Amendment applied rather than the COGSA and that the rail carrier was liable for the full amount of damage plus interest from the date of the derailment. The judge denied the rail carrier's motion. The judge ruled that because the shipment originated at an inland location in the United States and was being transported interstate by a receiving rail carrier, the Carmack Amendment applied as a matter of law and trumped COGSA which had been extended by contract in the Bill of Lading. The attorneys' successfully persuaded the judge to distinguish this case from a 2010 Supreme Court decision which held, on similar facts, that COGSA, not Carmack, would apply if the shipment originated in a foreign county even though the derailment occurred in the United States after the voyage had ended.