The Fourth Circuit issued a published opinion today in Daily Express, Inc. v. 5K Logistics, Inc., a dispute over who should pay for damages resulting from “tube bundles” that fell off of a truck onto I-495. The opinion reverses a district court judgment (Chief Judge Spencer, EDVA) in which a shipping broker prevailed on an indemnity and contribution claim against a carrier for damages and costs owed by the shipping broker to a shipper. The Court of Appeals held that the broker failed to file a timely claim against the carrier, as required by contract and as provided for by the Carmack Amendment. Judge Wilkinson wrote the opinion, in which Judges Niemeyer and Judge Floyd joined.
The opinion begins as follows:
The Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act,49 U.S.C. § 14706, sets up a framework for the timely filing of claims against carriers for damaged cargo. In this case, it is undisputed that neither the shipper nor the shipping broker filed either a claim or a lawsuit within the prescribed time limitations. Were we to create some exception to the statutorily authorized, contractually mandated requirements of prompt filing, we would blow a hole in the balance struck by the Carmack Amendment and undermine Congress’s intent to protect carriers against stale claims. We therefore reverse the judgment of the district court in favor of the shipping broker,and remand with instructions to dismiss the lawsuit.