HomeCircuit Court Admiralty CasesCarriage of Goods/COGSA
Carriage of Goods/COGSA

The following are digests and case links to Circuit Court Admiralty Cases that have as an issue carriage of goods/COGSA:

Federal Marine Terminals v. Worcester Peat Co.
First Circuit Court of Appeals
August 27, 2001

Charter Parties/Demurrage: Since courts have been reluctant to impose demurrage liability on a party that is neither a signatory, successor nor possessor of a document that expressly or by incorporation refers to demurrage, the loading stevedore who was not in privity will not be liable for demurrage that the shipper was required to pay the vessel due to the delays in loading the cargo of peat moss. Carriage of Goods: The loading stevedore is further not liable for the loss of any peat moss since the shipper failed to provide any reliable evidence of how much peat moss was lost during loading and failed to establish that the amount lost was beyond what was anticipated for this type of cargo.

Senator Linie v. Sunway Line
Second Circuit Court of Appeals
May 17, 2002

Carriage of Goods by Sea Act ("COGSA"): Where neither the carrier nor the shippers had actual or constructive knowledge of the inherently dangerous nature of shipped goods, 46 U.S.C. § 1304(6) imposes strict liability on the shippers for damages and expenses arising from the shipment of those goods. Thus where the carrier incurred damages arising from the spontaneous combustion of a chemical cargo aboard its ship, the shippers were strictly liable for those damages even if, prior to the shipment, they did not know and could not have known that the chemical cargo was inherently dangerous.

Project Hope v. Neptune Orient Lines
Second Circuit Court of Appeals
May 4, 2001

Carriage of Goods: The district court properly found that the land carrier of a shipment from Winchester, Virginia to Egypt via the port of Norfolk, Virginia was jointly and severally liable for cargo damage pursuant to the Carmack Amendment, 49 U.S.C. § 14706. Damages: Damages under the Carmack Amendment should generally be based on the fair market value, but they need not be if circumstances suggest a more appropriate alternative, which in this case was properly the replacement cost of the damaged goods.

Hartford Fire Insurance Co. v. Orient Overseas Containers Lines (UK)
Second Circuit Court of Appeals
October 27, 2000

Carriage of Goods by Sea Act ("COGSA"): COGSA does not apply as a matter of law after goods have been discharged from the vessel, thus COGSA did not apply as a matter of law to the inland portion of an intermodal carriage from Wisconsin to the Netherlands. COGSA could apply as a matter of contract between the parties, but the bill of lading, although potentially ambiguous, should be construed as applying by contract the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road ("CMR") to plaintiff's claim arising from the alleged theft of cargo in Belgium en route to the Netherlands. Admiralty Jurisdiction:  A "mixed"  maritime/non-maritime contract is subject to admiralty jurisdiction only where (1) the claim arises from a breach of maritime obligations that are severable from the non-maritime obligations of the contract or (2) the land-based portion of the contract is "merely incidental" to the sea-based portion. Since neither of these exceptions is applicable here, plaintiff's cargo damage claim is subject to the court's diversity jurisdiction.

Prima U.S. Inc. v. M/V Addiriyah
Second Circuit Court of Appeals
August 24, 2000

Carriage of Goods: A freight forwarder sued in indemnity for damages to ocean cargo did not issue a bill of lading, and thus was not liable where it had acted reasonably in selecting the parties that actually performed the transportation services.

Third Circuit Court of Appeals
November 19, 1999

Carriage of Goods by Sea Act ("COGSA"): The carrier has no duty to inspect the contents of a sealed container before issuing a bill of lading.

BP North America v. Solar ST
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
May 14, 2001

Carriage of Goods/Damages: BP's futures trading in the diesel oil market after it discovered its diesel oil cargo was damaged is inapposite to a "market value" damages calculation, thus the district court should simply have calculated BP's damages as the difference between the market value of sound oil on the date of discharge and an estimated market valuation of the contaminated oil on the date of discharge.

United States v. Ocean Bulk Ships
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
April 10, 2001

Carriage of Goods by Sea Act ("COGSA"): Once a shipper establishes its prima facie case creating a a presumption of liability, the burden of proof under COGSA shifts to the defendant-carrier, which must prove (1) that it exercised due diligence to prevent the loss or damage to the cargo, 46 U.S.C. § 1304(1), or (2) that the loss or damage was the result of one of the Act's enumerated "uncontrollable causes of loss." "If the carrier successfully rebuts the shipper's prima facie case, then the presumption of liability vanishes and the burden returns to the shipper to show that carrier negligence was at least a concurrent cause of the loss or damage to the cargo. If the shipper successfully establishes that the carrier's negligence is at least a concurrent cause of the loss or damage, then the burden shifts once again to the carrier, which must establish what portion of the loss was caused by other factors. If the carrier is unable to prove the appropriate apportionment of fault, then it becomes fully liable for the full extent of the shipper's loss." In applying this burden shifting scheme, the court held that defendants' surveyors' reports, three of the five of which failed to provide even a speculative assessment concerning the cause of the missing and damaged cargo at discharge, were either insufficient to rebut plaintiff's prima facie case or, where some evidence of an excepted cause was indicated in the reports, were insufficient in carrying defendants' burden to apportion the damage.

Mannesman Demag Co. v. M/V Concert Express
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
September 8, 2000

Carriage of Goods: Since the inland transportation of cargo under a through bill of lading occurs after Harter Act proper delivery, the Harter Act is not compulsorily applicable to a cargo damage claim arising from the the inland portion of a through carriage from Bremerhaven, Germany, to Terre Haute, Indiana.

Fedmet Co. v. M/V BUYALYK
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
November 11, 1999

Arbitration: A court may dismiss rather than stay a cargo claim subject to arbitration; Carriage of Goods by Sea Act ("COGSA"): The bill of lading's foreign arbitration clause is enforceable.

Underwood Cotton v. Hyundai Merchant Marine
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
April 26, 2002

Carriage of Goods by Sea Act ("COGSA")/Statute of Limitations: COGSA's one year period to bring an action against a carrier does apply to claims under the Federal Bills of Lading Act ("Pomerene Act"), 49 U.S.C. §§ 80101-80116, for bills of lading issued for the carriage of goods by sea.

Sea-Land Service v. Lozen International
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
April 3, 2002

Carriage of Goods by Sea Act ("COGSA"): The terms printed on Sea-Land's bills of lading control the parties' agreement in this case although express sea waybills were issued electronically, and Sea-Land did not give a printed copy of the terms to Plaintiff. Since those terms did not guarantee delivery by a date certain, Plaintiff's late delivery claim was properly dismissed. But, the "liberty clauses" in Sea-Land's bills of lading cannot unequivocally insulate the company from liability because, although they are generally enforceable, a liability limitation in a bill of lading is unenforceable to the extent that it authorizes the carrier to engage in an unreasonable deviation. In order for a deviation to be "unreasonable," the carrier must intentionally have caused damage to the shipper's goods. The district court therefore erred in dismissing Plaintiff's deviation claim where a genuine issue of fact existed as to whether Sea-Land's rail agent committed an unreasonable deviation by deliberately refusing to cooperate once it was known that Plaintiff's cargo of grapes had been placed on the wrong train. 

Yang Ming v. Okamoto Freighters
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
August 7, 2001

Carriage of Goods/Indemnity: The ocean carrier was entitled to indemnity under the bill of lading from the NVOCC/shipper pursuant to the NVOCC/shipper's breach of the warranty of the description of the cargo. The containers were said to have contained cigarettes and cigars, but instead contained worthless used tires, which resulted in the ocean carrier suffering demurrage, shifting, terminal handling, transhipment and customs charges after the containers were rejected by the consignee and abandoned by the NVOCC/shipper. The NVOCC/shipper was in turn entitled to indemnity from the initial shipper of the goods under the separate bill of lading that the NVOCC/shipper had issued to the initial shipper which also contained a warranty of cargo description. 

Lite-On v. Burlington Aire Express
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
July 10, 2001

Carriage of Goods: The consignor of goods named in a bill of lading has standing to sue the carrier for misdelivery of goods and breach of contract regardless of evidence that the consignee, and not the consignor, entered into the shipment contract with the carrier. Thus the district court's granting of summary judgment on behalf of the consignor's assignee against the carrier for delivery of the goods without presentation of an endorsed copy of the bills of lading, and where the consignee had not paid for the goods, was affirmed. 

Neptune Orient Lines v. Burlington
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
May 24, 2000

Carriage of Goods: The appropriate measure of damages under the Carmack Amendment for the loss of a container load of Nike shoes on the inland portion of a carriage from Indonesia to Tennessee was the market value at destination, not the replacement cost.

Fireman's Fund Insurance v. Tropical Shipping
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
June 19, 2001

Carriage of Goods by Sea Act ("COGSA"): To invoke COGSA's package limitation, the carrier must satisfy two preconditions: first, the carrier must give the shipper adequate notice of the $500  limitation by including a "clause paramount" in the bill of lading that expressly adopts the provisions of COGSA; and second, the carrier must give the shipper a fair opportunity to avoid COGSA section 4(5)'s limitation by declaring excess value. Since the bill of lading provided sufficient notice of the limitation of liability and provided an opportunity to declare excess value, COGSA's package limitation applied to the shipment. The district court correctly defined a mobile television stage as the relevant COGSA package and applied the $500 package limitation to a claim for its total destruction since the bill of lading legibly and clearly described the stage as "one unit" or "package" and the shipper did not declare the value of the stage on the bill of lading.  Marine Insurance: Florida law applies in resolving the inusurers "other insurance" dispute; when two insurance policies contain "other insurance" clauses, the clauses are deemed mutually repugnant and both insurers share the loss on a pro rata basis in accordance with their policy limits.

De Chalus v. P & O Containers
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
May 24, 2001

Carriage of Goods by Sea Act ("COGSA"): The correct package for purposes of COGSA's $500 per package limitation was not the container, or the 2,270 "cartons" of perfume on pallets as described on the bill of lading, but the 42 individual pallets, which were described as "packages" on the face of the bill of lading.

Fishman & Tobin Inc. v. Tropical Shipping
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
January 31, 2001

Carriage of Goods by Sea Act ("COGSA"): Four basic principles are implicated when applying COGSA's package limitation to containerized shipments: (1) the contractual agreement between the parties as set forth in the bill of lading; (2) the term "package" means the result of some preparation for transportation "which facilitates handling but which does not necessarily conceal or completely enclose the goods;" (3) a container cannot be a COGSA package absent "a clear agreement between the parties to that effect, [and] at least so long as its contents and the number of packages or units are disclosed;" and (4) "absent an agreement in the bill of lading as to packaging of the cargo, goods placed in containers and described as not separately packaged will be classified as goods not shipped in packages." Thus where the relevant bills of lading show that a specific number of packages of pants are in the containers, the packages and not the container will be considered the relevant "package" for COGSA's $500 package limitation. But where the relevant bill of lading states only that a specific number of "units" of jackets are in the container, and in the absence of "any clear indication that each garment-on-hanger was the relevant unit of packaging being shipped," the container is the package.

Polo Ralph Lauren v. Tropical Shipping
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
June 21, 2000

Carriage of Goods by Sea Act ("COGSA"): Although Polo Ralph Lauren was not named in the bill of lading, the bill of lading's reference to the "owner of the goods" could encompass Polo Ralph Lauren, thus summary judgment dismissing Polo Ralph Laurens' cargo claim is reversed. COGSA is the exclusive remedy in cases involving a carriage of goods between the United States and foreign ports.

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