Justia Transportation Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in International Trade
United States v. C.H. Robinson Co.
C.H. Robinson was the Customs-bonded carrier for three 2001 entries of wearing apparel from China, which entered the U.S. as Transportation & Exportation (T&E) entries, but were never exported and are “missing.” A Mexican company was the importer of record and consignee of the merchandise; the T&E entry documents indicated that the merchandise was to be delivered to Laredo, Texas, for exportation to Mexico. The merchandise left Los Angeles, but it is not clear what happened after that. Customs never inspected or took possession of the subject merchandise at the Port of Laredo. During an audit, Customs contacted Mexican Customs authorities and learned that stamped importation forms were false. Customs issued notices of liquidated damages claims against C.H. Robinson’s custodial bond, charging misdelivery. Based upon mitigation guidelines, Customs reduced the amount of liquidated damages from $75,000. C.H. Robinson paid $57,212 in 2004 and sought a refund. Customs also made a demand, under 19 U.S.C. 1553, for payment of $106,407.86, plus interest, for duties, taxes, and fees on the entries. C.H. Robinson did not protest the demand or pay the duties, and its challenge to Commerce’s assessment of liquidated damages remained stayed. The Court of International Trade held C.H. Robinson liable for duties, taxes, and fees. The Federal Circuit affirmed.View "United States v. C.H. Robinson Co." on Justia Law
CNA Ins. Co. v. Hyundai Merch. Marine Co., Ltd.
Corning hired Hyundai, an ocean shipper, to transport thin glass sheets for use in televisions and computer monitors from the U.S. to Asia. Although it is not clear when the damage occurred, damage was noted when Hyundai unloaded the containers from flatcars operated by its subcontractors (Norfolk Southern Railway and BNSF, another rail carrier). Corning had no role in selecting and no relationship with the subcontractors. There were opinions that the damage was caused by movement of the railcars, not by packing, but the actual cause was not established. Corning’s insurer paid Corning $664,679.88 and filed suit. The district court held that the case would proceed solely under the Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act, 49 U.S.C. 11706, apparently reasoning that the damage undisputedly occurred while the cargo was in the possession of a rail carrier. The court found that a Subcontracting Clause did not immunize the rail carriers from suit, but obligated Corning to indemnify Hyundai for any resultant claims by a subcontractor against Hyundai arising out of the same facts. The court held that a $500-per-package limit of liability did not apply to the rail carriers or Hyundai. After a jury trial, the court found Hyundai and the railroads liable, but denied prejudgment interest. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the judgment against Hyundai, reversed and vacated judgments against the railroads, and remanded for reconsideration of prejudgment interest.View "CNA Ins. Co. v. Hyundai Merch. Marine Co., Ltd." on Justia Law
International Brotherhood of Teamsters, et al. v. DOT, et al.
This case stemmed from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's recent authorization of a pilot program that allowed Mexico-domiciled trucking companies to operate trucks throughout the United States, so long as the trucking companies complied with certain federal safety standards. Drivers Association and Teamsters contended that the pilot program was unlawful. As a preliminary matter, the court concluded that Drivers Association and Teamsters both have standing to challenge the pilot program. On the merits, the court concluded that all seven of Drivers Association's arguments and all six of Teamsters' arguments were unpersuasive. Accordingly, the court denied the petitions for review. View "International Brotherhood of Teamsters, et al. v. DOT, et al." on Justia Law
Commodities Exp. Co. v. Detroit Int’l Bridge Co.
In 2008 the Michigan Supreme Court held that the Detroit International Bridge Company was immune from the City of Detroit’s zoning ordinances because it was a federal instrumentality for the limited purpose of facilitating commerce over the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit to Ontario, Canada. The federal government was not a party to the suit. Commodities Export, which owned property near the Bridge, later filed suit against Detroit and the United States, claiming that the Bridge Company had unilaterally condemned roads around its property, cutting off the land and causing a regulatory taking. It claimed that Detroit was liable for failing to enforce its own ordinances and demanded that the United States take a position on the Bridge Company’s federal-instrumentality status and control the Company’s actions. The United States cross-claimed against Bridge Company, alleging that it had misappropriated the title of “federal instrumentality.” The district court granted summary judgment for the United States and dismissed the action. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, stating that federal courts have jurisdiction over the government’s cross-claim and owe no deference to the Michigan Supreme Court’s interpretation of federal common law. Bridge Company is not a federal instrumentality. View "Commodities Exp. Co. v. Detroit Int'l Bridge Co." on Justia Law
Ford Motor Co. v. United States
In 1998, the Supreme Court held that the Harbor Maintenance Tax, 26 U.S.C. 4461-4462, was unconstitutional as applied to exports. U.S. Customs enacted procedures for refunds and established a separate HMT database with data from its ACS database, through which HMT payments had been processed. Customs discovered wide-spread inaccuracies in its HMT database, but was unable to make corrections related to payments made before July 1, 1990, because it no longer had original documents. Customs established different requirements for supporting documentation, depending on whether an exporter was seeking a refund of pre- or post-July 1, 1990 payments. Ford sought HMT refunds for both pre- and post-July 1, 1990, payments and has received more than $17 million, but claims that Customs still owes about $2.5 million. In addition to a FOIA Report of Ford’s pre-July 1, 1990 payments was drawn from information in the ACS database, Ford submitted an affidavit attesting that it was only claiming refunds of HMT paid on exports and declarations about the consistency and quality of its quarterly HMT payment records. Customs denied the claims. The Trade Court entered judgment in favor of the government. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The claims were insufficient because there still was high potential for error. View "Ford Motor Co. v. United States" on Justia Law
Fed. Ins. Co. v. Union Pacific Railroad Co.
Federal Insurance Company (FIC) sued for damage to property destroyed during the inland leg of international intermodal carriage where FIC was the subrogee of the shipper which contracted with an ocean carrier, APL Co. Ptc. Ltd. (APL), to ship goods from Singapore to Alabama. The district court ruled that a covenant not to sue in the through bill of lading required FIC to sue the carrier, APL, rather than the subcontractor. At issue was what legal regime applied to the shipment's inland leg under the through bill of lading and whether the applicable legal regime prohibited the covenant not to sue. The court held that the district court did not err by enforcing the covenant not to sue and granting summary judgment to the subcontractor where the requirements that FIC sue APL directly was valid under the Hague Rules and the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA), 46 U.S.C. 30701. View "Fed. Ins. Co. v. Union Pacific Railroad Co." on Justia Law
QT Trading, L.P. v. M/V Saga Morus, et al
QT Trading, L.P. ("QT") sued defendants for rust damage to its steel pipes that allegedly occurred during their transport from Dalian, China to Houston, Texas. At issue was whether the district court properly granted summary judgment to in personam defendants on QT's claims for damages under the Carriage of Goods at Sea Act ("COGSA"), 46 U.S.C. 30701 note (Carriage of Goods by Sea), and for negligent bailment of its goods. The court affirmed summary judgment and held that the district court properly dismissed QT's COGSA claims where QT failed to establish genuine issues of material fact where none of the defendants were "carriers" and thus could not be liable for damages under the statute. The court also held that the district court properly dismissed QT's bailment claims where QT failed to show that a certain defendant had exclusive possession of the cargo.