606 F.2d 106 (5th Cir. 1979), 77-2793, Hector Martinez and Co. v. Southern Pac. Transp. Co.

Docket Nº:77-2793.
Citation:606 F.2d 106
Case Date:November 08, 1979
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Page 106

606 F.2d 106 (5th Cir. 1979)




No. 77-2793.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

November 8, 1979

Page 107

Paul J. Chitwood, Dallas, Tex., for plaintiff-appellant.

Howard P. Newton, San Antonio, Tex., for defendant-appellee.

Appeal fro the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.

Before WISDOM, HILL and VANCE, Circuit Judges.

VANCE, Circuit Judge:

Martinez appeals the trial court's dismissal of his claim under 49 U.S.C. § 20(11) (Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act) for losses resulting from delay and damage in transportation by carrier Southern Pacific. The district court granted Southern Pacific's motion under Rule 12(b)(6) to dismiss the claim for delay damages. It held that such damages are special and Martinez failed to allege that the carrier had any notice of the possibility that such damages would accrue upon a breach of the contract between the parties. We reverse and remand for trial on the claim for some but not all of the damages sought.

Martinez's agent delivered a 2400 Lima Dragline, Model 66, to the Penn Central Railroad, the origin carrier, on February 11, 1974, for shipment from New Philadelphia, Ohio to Eagle Pass, Texas. The dragline was loaded onto five separate railroad cars. A single uniform bill of lading, which described the dragline as "used strip mining machinery and parts," was issued by Penn Central, listing Martinez's agent in Eagle Pass as the consignee.

The last of the five cars, which were shipped separately, arrived in Eagle Pass on April 2, 1974. Martinez had to make reasonable repairs in the amount of $14,467.00 because the dragline was damaged in transit. These repairs were not completed until June 20, 1974. Martinez also alleges delay damages in the amount of $117,600.00 because the dragline could not be used from March 1, when he contends that the last of the cars should have arrived, until June 20. The claimed sum represents the dragline's fair rental value during this period.

After filing a claim as prescribed by the bill of lading, Martinez sued Southern Pacific, which as delivering carrier is liable for all recoverable damages. Martinez framed his original complaint to allege three separate claims under the Carmack Amendment. First, Martinez sought recovery of the cost of repairing the damage to the

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dragline. Second, he sought the refund of certain demurrage or storage charges assessed by Southern Pacific and paid at the time of delivery. Third, Martinez sought compensation for wrongful deprivation of the dragline's use during the periods of delay in transit and of repair.

Martinez and Southern Pacific had already settled the first two of these claims, when Southern Pacific filed its Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the third claim for loss of use. Southern Pacific argues that, because such damages are special, they are not recoverable under the Carmack Amendment absent notice of the possibility of such damages. The trial court denied this motion upon condition that Martinez amend his complaint to allege such notice. When Martinez refused, the district court granted Southern Pacific's motion under Rule 12(b)(6). This ruling, which had the effect of dismissing all that remained of Martinez's suit, is the basis of this appeal.

Martinez's delay claim involves two very different items. Lost use during the period of March 1 until April 2 resulted from a delay in transit. Lost use from April 2 until June 20 resulted from repair of the damaged goods. Neither the parties nor the district court have focused on the full import of this distinction. Martinez's claimed loss during repair is not severable from the physical damage to the dragline but is a part of the same legal claim. Thus Martinez necessarily settled his claim regarding damages for the repair period when he settled his first claim for damages to the dragline. The surviving issue is the appropriate measure of damages for the claimed loss resulting from Southern Pacific's unreasonable delay in transportation.

The Carmack Amendment 1 governs Martinez's claim for damages resulting from the delay in transit. That amendment incorporates common law principles for damages. F. J. McCarty Co. v. Southern Pacific Co., 428 F.2d 690, 693 (9th Cir. 1970); L. E. Whitlock Truck Service, Inc. v. Regal Drilling Co., 333 F.2d 488, 491 (10th Cir. 1964); J & H Flyer Inc. v. Pennsylvania Rr., 316 F.2d 203...

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