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Oshkosh Storage Co. v. Kraze Trucking LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

July 17, 2014

OSHKOSH STORAGE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
KRAZE TRUCKING LLC, Defendant

For Oshkosh Storage Company, Plaintiff: Michael Lim, LEAD ATTORNEY, Emily Z Dunham, Reff Baivier Bermingham Zierdt & Lim, Oshkosh, WI.

For Kraze Trucking LLC, Defendant: Jason Orleans, Chilton Yambert & Porter LLP, Waukegan, IL.

Page 635

ORDER DENYING [20] DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND GRANTING [21] PLAINTIFF'S CROSS-MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

William C. Griesbach, Chief United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Oshkosh Storage Company initially brought this action against defendant Kraze Trucking, LLC, in Wisconsin state court as an apparent negligence claim. Oshkosh Storage asserts that Kraze delivered a shipment of cheese in a defective condition because Kraze's delivery driver compromised the shipment safety seal, thereby decreasing the value of the shipment in the amount of $19,278.61 (Compl. ¶ ¶ 6, 9, ECF No. 1-1.) Kraze removed the case to this Court, asserting that the Carmack Amendment, 49 U.S.C. § 14706, preempted any state law negligence remedy. (ECF No. 1.) Oshkosh Storage did not challenge the removal, and on March 21, 2014, Kraze filed a motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 20.) Oshkosh Storage then cross-moved for summary judgment on April 17, 2014. (ECF No. 21.) For the reasons stated below, Kraze's motion will be denied and Oshkosh Storage's cross-motion will be granted.

I. Background

The relevant facts in this matter are largely undisputed. On or about April 3, 2013, Kraze delivered for Oshkosh Storage a truckload of kosher cheddar cheese from Litchfield, Minnesota, to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, pursuant to a bill of lading. ( See Bill of Lading, Ex. A, ECF No. 20-1 at 5.) Oshkosh Storage President Carl Doemel asserts that the shipment was custom made according to the specifications of the

Page 636

customer, Dairiconcepts. (Doemel Aff. ¶ 5, ECF No. 24.) Kraze driver Brandon Daniels hauled the load in a sealed refrigerated trailer. Daniels contends that when he arrived on the Oshkosh premises, the load was sealed. (Daniels Aff. ¶ 5, Ex. B, ECF No. 20-1 at 6.) Oshkosh Storage receptionist Sandy Knitt attests that when Daniels arrived, she checked him in by stamping his paperwork with an inbound stamp and gave the load a lot number. (Knitt Aff. ¶ ¶ 1-3, ECF No. 26.) Knitt also gave Daniels instruction sheets with his paperwork. ( Id. ¶ 4.) One of the instruction sheets indicated that Oshkosh Storage may reject a load of food products for various reasons, including " [n]o seal, broken seal, or seal does not match manifest." (ECF No. 26 at 4.) Knitt asserts that she verbally told Daniels to " pull up around the north side of the building at the third set of dock doors and pull up by the stairway and our warehouse guy will get [Daniels'] paperwork and break the seal." (Knitt Aff. ¶ 6.) Knitt has also submitted photos of signage in the check-in area which states: " Please DO NOT break the seal on the trailer. Our warehouse staff will verify the seal number and break the seal prior to unloading." (ECF No. 26 at 8.)

While at the Oshkosh facility, Daniels admits that he broke the trailer seal, opened the trailer bay doors, and backed his trailer into an open loading dock. (Daniels Aff. ¶ 6.) Oshkosh Storage employee Tessy Jensen testifies that warehouse employee John Schaetz called to inform her that the seal on Daniels' truck was broken and that it had not been broken by Oshkosh Storage employees. (Jensen Aff. ¶ 3, ECF No. 25.) Jensen contacted the receiving customer, Dairiconcepts, which instructed her to reject the load. ( Id. ¶ 5.) Great West Casualty, Kraze's insurer, ultimately sold the rejected load for $51,000, a sum $19,278.61 less than the original invoice price.

II. Analysis

The Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Commission Act, 49 U.S.C. § 14706, preempts state common law remedies against common carriers " where goods are damaged or lost in interstate commerce." REI Transp., Inc. v. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., 519 F.3d 693, 697-98 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting Hughes v. United Van Lines, Inc., 829 F.2d 1407, 1414 (7th Cir. 1987)). The purpose of the Carmack Amendment is to " establish uniform federal guidelines designed in part to remove the uncertainty surrounding a carrier's liability when damage occurs to a shipper's interstate shipment." Hughes, 829 F.2d at 1415. In relevant part, it states:

A carrier providing transportation or service . . . shall issue a receipt or bill of lading for property it receives for transportation under this part. That carrier and any other carrier that delivers the property and is providing transportation or service . . . are liable to the person entitled to recover under the receipt or bill of lading. The liability imposed under this paragraph is for the actual loss or injury to the property caused by (A) the receiving carrier, (B) the delivering carrier, or (C) another carrier over whose line or route the property is transported in the United States . . . .

49 U.S.C. § 14706(a)(1). To establish a prima facie case under the Carmack Amendment, a shipper must demonstrate: (1) delivery of the shipment to the carrier in good condition; (2) loss or damage to the shipment; and (3) the amount of damages. Allied Tube & ...


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