Intact Seals No Defense under Carmack Amendment

Thursday, August 01, 2002
In an unpublished opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that evidence that the seals on a container were intact is not, standing alone, a defense to a claim for damages brought be a shipper against the carrier. In the instant case, a container of shoes was being shipped from Brazil to Lynchburg, Va. The container was loaded, sealed, and weighed in Brazil. When the container arrived in Norfolk, Va., it was accepted by defendant carrier, who issued its own bill of lading showing the same basic weight as that listed in the original bill of lading prepared in Brazil. After the container was delivered, it was discovered that many of the shoes were missing. Defendant contended, among other things, that it accepted the shipper's weight and count. The court determined that the Carmack Amendment applied since the shipment was from a foreign country and that the Pomerene Act did not apply since this particular leg of the shipment was intrastate. The court held that, where the carrier includes the weight of the shipment (without qualification) on its own bill of lading, the fact that the seals are intact is not a defense under the Carmack Amendment. Source: HK Law

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