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jdhaas
jdhaas, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 2998
Experience:  23 years of business law experience
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I work for a company that specializes in retail ...

Customer Question

I work for a company that specializes in retail distribution. This means that sealed cartons containing wearing apparrel, shoes, etc is tendered to us and then we in turn sort and seg and deliver to multiple locations. When we receive the freight, we do not have any idea what is inside the boxes. When we deliver a box, we have delivered a box that is in tact. I''m currently fighting a claim where we delivered carton #12345 to a store. We obtained the proper documentation saying that this carton specifically was delivered in good condition. When the store opened the carton, they found t-shirts instead of the shoes they were expecting. What or where can I find a law regarding the carriers responsibility in such a situation.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  jdhaas replied 6 years ago.
There will not be a law in your state that specifically covers your situation. There is a code that may cover the situation that may have been adopted by your state, and that is called the UCC. The UCC covers many commercial transactions and describes the duties of commercial contract parties in certain situations.

Moreover, this will be covered by contract law principles as well. What does the contract say is your company's duty after you receive sealed cartons. Is it your duty under the contract to open each package to make sure that it contains shoes? If not, then you have not breached the contract. The buyer does not have a cause of action against you in that situation, it has a claim against the seller because the seller breached the contract by sending your company t-shirts instead of shoes.

If you cannot resolve this through negotiation, then you may want to try mediation (an independent person tries to get an agreement between the parties) and if mediation does not work, you should have a strong contract case against the seller and against the buyer as the buyer's claim is not against you (assuming contract language with you being the shipper), but against the seller. Good luck.

I hope that I have helped you and that I have answered all of your questions. Please
ask more questions if I have not answered all of your questions.

Please be aware that my answer is not legal advice, it is merely information.
You and I have not entered into an attorney/client relationship, and I am not
responsible for your legal rights. The only way for us to be in an
attorney/client relationship is if you have signed a written retainer agreement
with my law firm.
jdhaas, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 2998
Experience: 23 years of business law experience
jdhaas and 10 other Business Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I know that we are not responsible and we'd beat it in court if necessary. This is a low cost claim so I am not interested in actually taking legal action. I was hoping you could tell me what the actual language or terminology of the law is in regards XXXXX XXXXX damages/losses so I can simply decline the claim based on that. Our contract obligates us to adhere to FMCSA guidelines. Unfortunately, I've tried finding what I'm looking for and I just don't know where to find it such guidelines.

Thanks so much for your help!
Expert:  jdhaas replied 6 years ago.
I suggest quoting the UCC as stating that you do not owe as you fulfilled your duty. You can also quote 373 and 375 and 375 of the FMCSA. They seem most relevant. Good luck.

I hope that I have helped you and that I have answered all of your questions. Please
ask more questions if I have not answered all of your questions.

Please be aware that my answer is not legal advice, it is merely information.
You and I have not entered into an attorney/client relationship, and I am not
responsible for your legal rights. The only way for us to be in an
attorney/client relationship is if you have signed a written retainer agreement
with my law firm.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I'm so sorry to be such a pest. Unfortunately, I am unable to identify any references to the carriers responsibility for the contents within a pre-packed and sealed carton. What is the proper terminology if I purchased a sealed box of fruit loops from the store. Days later I opened the cereal box and find that it is cookie crisp? Is the trucking company that delivered the cereal to the store liable for it?    
I do not have a signed contract with this client. Otherwise, I'd see what we were contractually obligated to do and take it from there.

Is it enough to have a bill of lading that has the # XXXXX cartons and weight and a bunch of carton numbers are listed in the freight description. Again, the freight description is a bunch of numbers. The BOL does not indicate that shoes were in the carton. The consignee originally signed the BOL and specified that one of the listed carton #'s in the list was not delivered. He then signed the free astray document that specifically states the true carton number in question.
Expert:  jdhaas replied 6 years ago.
You are not being a pest. You are asking the questions that you need to be answered. I am sorry, but I could not find a section that is directly on point. In contract cases, and this is a contract case involving the fulfillment of your duties as shipper, the cases are decided on a case-by-case basis; thus, it is common that not every contract case has a similar case just like it in the reported cases.

I agree with your analogy about Fruit Loops. If I go to the store and get Wheaties in my Fruit Loops, I do not look at the shipper, I look at the manufacturer. That is a very powerful analogy and it is applicable to your case. It seems as if the customer is interested in recovery from you because it is easy and not because you are liable. Your contract with the manufacturer was that you would transport product from A to B. Your contract does not say that you would inspect product to make sure that it is not mislabeled Wheaties. The purchaser has no right against you as you have made no breach. Their case is against the manufacturer or distributor clearly.

Quote the UCC and the FMCSA. Give them the analogy of the Fruit Loops and say that you fulfilled the duty--moving sealed products from A to B. Anything that does not have to do with the transportation is out of your area of control. Please let me know if there are other issues.

I hope that I have helped you, answered all of your questions,
and that I have provided you with useful information.
Please ask more questions if I have not answered all of your
questions.

In the future, if you would like to specifically ask me a question,
you can ask for me in the body of the question.


Please be aware that my answer is not legal advice,
it is merely information. The only way that I am legally
responsible for your legal rights is if you have signed
a written retainer agreement with my law firm.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you so much! I think this will work.

Deb
Expert:  jdhaas replied 6 years ago.
Please let me know what happens and please let me know if I can help in the future.

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