E.D. Pa. Notes Split Re Standard to Be Used to Determine Whether a Shipper's Damages Claim Is Sufficient

Per Lewis v. Atlas Van Lines, Inc., Slip Copy, 2007 WL 1576452 (M.D. Pa. May 30, 2007):

In 1906, Congress enacted the Carmack Amendment which created a national policy regarding an interstate carrier's liability for damages arising from the interstate transportation of goods. See 49 U.S.C. § 14706; New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Co. v. Nothnagle, 346 U.S. 128, 131 (1953). The Carmack Amendment “codifies the common-law rule making a carrier liable, without proof of negligence, for all damage to the goods transported by it, unless it affirmatively shows that the damage was occasioned by the shipper, acts of God, the public enemy, public authority, or the inherent vice or nature of the commodity.” Secretary of Agriculture v. United States, 350 U.S. 162, 166 n. 9 (1956).

. . .

There is a split in the federal circuit courts concerning the standard to be used to determine whether a shipper's damages claim is sufficient. The dueling standards are “strict compliance” and “substantial performance.” Plaintiffs cite to dicta contained in S & H Hardware & Supply v. Yellow Transport, 432 F.3d 550, 554 (3d Cir.2005) to support its contention that the Third Circuit has indicated it would follow the “substantial performance” standard. In Yellow Transport, the Third Circuit discussed the applicability of the “substantial performance” standard as it related to whether a communication was to be considered written notice at all. The case did not address the contents, adequacy, sufficiency or determinability of the notice of damages claim, and therefore is simply not persuasive on the point for which Plaintiffs cite it.


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