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Please keep in mind that experts on this site are not permitted to extend personal advise or conduct legal research however I will be able to guide you through the general agent - principal relationship and the various liabilities that could exist and possible solutions
Question: what is the amount in controversy? Was the freight delivered or is it being kept by the trucking company?
Good question. The amount is $2,000. Freight was delivered back in Jan. 2012 over a year ago. Also I see the broker did 7 or so other loads for us back then but this is the first claim we had like this. Hopefully there are not others.
The brokers phone is out of service
Please don't shoot the messenger (i.e. me...) but unfortunately you have a problem on your hands. The shipping company is right to demand payment from you and not from the agent as the contract they had was likely with you and the agent acted on your behalf. The law of agency states that the agent's actions are imputed onto the master (i.e. you) so if the agent pulled any shenanigans and did not pay unfortunately it is your responsibility. Let me share some ideas on how to handle this:
1) if the agent embezzled the funds you have a civil claim against the agent. Because this involved fraud even if the agent works though an LLC or a corp you would be able to sue him personally
2) if the claim (hopefully) remains below the the threshold of small claims court (currently $5K) then you can sue the agent in small claims court which is cheaper, quicker and you don't need an attorney.
3) if you have some form of business insurance or even personal insurance ask your broker if they cover fraud (or describe the situation and ask what would be the coverage) many policies do cover such instances.
4) consider filing a criminal complaint with your local police. This might exert pressure on the agent to settle the debt in exchange for you dropping the claim.
5) Finally, try to negotiate something with the trucking company. Ask them to help you and discount and explain to them that the person apparently run off with the money. Tell them to give you a break and if you make full recovery then you will pay them back the remainder.
I hope these would get you your money back.
Please rate my answer. Good luck!
Thank you for the great reply. Sorry I didn't see it till now but will leave you excellent feedback!
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