Heniff Transportation Systems v. Trimac Transportation Services, 16-40553 (5th Cir. 01/30/2017)
Appellant Heniff Transportation Services entered a contract to transport chemicals from Texas to Illinois, and hired Trimac Transportation to perform a thorough "Kosher wash" of its tanker as required by its contract. Trimac did not perform the wash correctly, the chemicals became contaminated, and appellant settled with its client for the resultant damage for nearly $239,000. Appellant sued Trimac for various state claims and a claim under the federal Carmack Amendment, which governs liability for losses incurred during the transportation phase of interstate commerce. The trial court held that the state claims were pre-empted by the Carmack Ammendment, and later granted summary judgment for Trimac on the Carmack claim. On appeal, appellant challenged the pre-emption ruling, arguing that although the amendment generally pre-empts state law claims against carriers in interstate commerce, Trimac was not a "carrier" covered by the amendment. The court found that the amendment by its plain language defines "carrier" broadly enough to include businesses that provide "services related to" interstate transportation, such as elevation, refrigeration, handling, packing, etc. The court rejected appellant's argument that Trimac was not covered because washing services were not specifically listed in the act. The court found that the Kosher wash was so critical to this transaction that the client specifically requested it under the contract; therefore, it was a related service. It also rejected appellant's argument that Trimac was not covered because it was not a party to appellant's bill of lading, finding that the plain language of the amendment did not require a bill of lading. The court held that the Carmack Amendment pre-empted appellant's state law claims and affirmed the trial court's dismissal.
Heniff Transportation Systems v. Trimac Transportation Services, Fifth Circuit, Case No. 16-40553, 1/30/17.
February 16, 2017
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