Transportation and Logistics Counsel Annual Conference March 18, Carmack Amendment And Preemption Of Personal Injury Claims

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1 Transportation and Logistics Counsel Annual Conference March 18, 2014 Carmack Amendment And Preemption Of Personal Injury Claims By: Beata Shapiro, Esq. Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP 1010 Washington Blvd., Stamford, CT

2 Carmack Liability & Preemption Liability: A motor carrier providing transportation services is liable to a shipper for damage or loss to cargo. The liability imposed is for the actual loss or injury to the property. See 49 U.S.C (a). Preemption: Federal preemption is the doctrine that federal law precludes and prevents the application of contrary state law. Courts consistently hold that the remedies provided by the Carmack Amendment preempt state law claims against a carrier for loss or damage to interstate shipments, such as negligence, breach of contract, and state consumer protection laws. See Smith v. United Parcel Service, 296 F.3d 1244, 1246 (11th Cir. 2002); York v. Day Transfer Co., 525 F. Supp. 2d 289, (D. R.I. 2007). Some courts have even precluded personal injury claims arising out of transportation services based on the Carmack Amendment.

3 York v. Williams Moving Company, 525 F. Supp. 2d 289 (D. R.I. 2007) Plaintiffs personal property suffered mold damage when stored during transport. Plaintiffs alleged, among other injuries, physical injuries and emotion pain and suffering due to the delivery of moldy property. Defendants moved for summary judgment. The court held that these damages were preempted by the Carmack Amendment because such damages stem directly from the shipment and delivery of their goods.

4 Alessandra v. Mullen Bros., 1999 Mass. Super. Lexis 399 (Mass. Super. 1999) Defendant moved Plaintiff s property from her home into a warehouse. Plaintiff's property was exposed to pesticides while in storage. Defendant then transported the property to Plaintiff s new residence. Plaintiff claimed the pesticides caused her to have a physical reaction requiring medication attention. The court dismissed all of Plaintiff s state law claims, even those alleging bodily injury, because of Carmack Amendment preemption.

5 Tayloe v. Kachina Moving & Storage, 16 F. Supp. 2d 1123 (D. Ariz. 1998) Plaintiffs property was transported and stored by Defendants. Some of the property was damaged, some lost and some contaminated with mold. Plaintiffs alleged that as a result of the mold one of the Plaintiffs developed a severe allergic reaction requiring hospitalization. Plaintiffs alleged personal injuries in their complaint. The court granted Defendants Motion for Summary Judgment finding that all of the Plaintiffs state law claims were preempted by the Carmack Amendment in part because Plaintiffs' claims arose out of the interstate transportation of their household goods.

6 Strike v. Atlas Van Lines, Inc., 102 F. Supp. 2d 599 (M.D. Pa. 2000) Defendant transported Plaintiffs personal property. Gasoline spilled on the property during transport. On delivery, the fumes overwhelmed Plaintiffs causing them to seek medical attention. Plaintiffs brought claims for breach of contract, loss of consortium and negligence. Plaintiffs sought damages for personal injuries. Defendant moved to dismiss all claims pursuant to the Carmack Amendment. The court granted the Motion to Dismiss and stated that Carmack Amendment preemption extended to claims like the Plaintiffs' involving personal injuries suffered as the result of changes made to shipped goods through negligence of the carrier.

7 Glass v. Crimmins Transfer Co., 299 F. Supp. 2d 878 (C.D. Ill. 2004) Defendants stored Plaintiffs personal property during a move. The property developed mold and fungus. Plaintiffs filed suit against Defendants seeking compensation for their property damage, emotional distress, and physical injury. They brought claims for breach of contract, fraudulent concealment, negligence, and Carmack Amendment damages. The court granted Defendants motion for summary judgment finding that Plaintiffs state law claims, including those alleging personal injuries and emotional distress, were preempted by the Carmack Amendment.

8 Huertas v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 42 Misc. 3d 245 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2013) Not a Carmack case. Plaintiff brought suit against Defendant for personal injuries after she tripped and fell on boxes. Defendant moved for summary judgment arguing in part that Plaintiff's claims were pre-empted by the federal Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 (ADA) and the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA). The court rejected this argument and held that preemption was not proper. Ultimately, the court held that the Defendant owed no duty to the Plaintiff and dismissed the claim.

9 Moffit v. Bekins Van Lines Co., 6 F.3d 305 (5th Cir. 1993) Defendant transported Plaintiffs household goods. Plaintiffs wanted delivery before Christmas. Defendant did not deliver the goods on time. Plaintiffs brought suit alleging claims of outrage, intentional and negligent emotional distress, breach of contract, breach of an implied warranty, breach of an express warranty, a violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, slander, misrepresentation, fraud, negligence, and violation of obligations as a common carrier. Defendant moved for summary judgment. The court granted the motion holding that the Carmack Amendment preempted all of Plaintiffs state law claims.

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