Deerskin Trading Post, Inc. v. Ups of America

Decision Date29 January 1997
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 1:96-CV-1346-FMH.
Citation972 F.Supp. 665
PartiesDEERSKIN TRADING POST, INC., on behalf of itself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs and Counterclaim Defendant, v. UNITED PARCEL SERVICE OF AMERICA, INC., Defendant and counterclaim Plaintiff.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Georgia

Martin D. Chitwood, Craig Gordon Harley, Appel, Chitwood & Harley, Atlanta, GA, David J. Bershad, Jerome M. Congress, Joseph Opper, Milberg, Weiss, Bersh, Hynes & Lerach, New York City, for Plaintiffs.

Paul J. Murphy, Michael S. French, David L. Pardue, Hunton & Williams, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant.

ORDER

HULL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Deerskin Trading Post, Inc. brings this action against Defendant United Parcel Service of America ("UPS") alleging, inter alia, that Defendant UPS overcharged Plaintiff for shipping services. This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [12-1] counts two, three, four, five, and six of Plaintiff's Complaint and portions of count one of Plaintiff's Complaint. Plaintiff's Complaint alleges numerous causes of action under state law which Defendant's Motion asserts are preempted by federal law and should be dismissed.

I. FACTS

Defendant UPS and its subsidiaries transport parcels by air and ground throughout the United States and the world. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant overcharged Plaintiff for Defendant's services in shipping packages to Plaintiff's customers. Specifically, Plaintiff claims that Defendant inappropriately charged Plaintiff based on the "dimensional weight" of certain packages. Ordinarily, the rate a customer pays is determined by the actual weight of the package, the destination of the package, and the desired speed of delivery. In certain circumstances, however, Defendant's rate is based upon the "dimensional weight" as defined in Defendant's regulations. Defendant's rate typically is based on the dimensional weight of the package only when the package is greater than one cubic foot in volume and when the package's dimensional weight exceeds its actual weight. All of Defendant's rates, however, are governed by Defendant's contracts with its customers.

Under Plaintiff's contract, Defendant, in line with its normal practice, is permitted to charge Plaintiff based on the dimensional weight of a package only if the package exceeds one cubic foot in volume. Plaintiff alleges, however, that Defendant charged Plaintiff based on the dimensional weight of packages that were less than one cubic foot in volume. As Plaintiff puts it, "Defendant ... systematically imposed improper `dimensional weight' charges on packages [UPS] ... contracted to ship." Plain. Brief, at 2.

On May 29, 1996, Plaintiff brought this action alleging breach of contract, statutory fraud, common law fraud, negligence, gross negligence, unjust enrichment and imposition of constructive trust. On September 9, 1996, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss all of Plaintiff's claims except a limited portion of Plaintiffs breach of contract claim. According to Defendant, the relevant sections of the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994, namely 49 U.S.C. §§ 14501(c)(1) and 41713(a), (b)(4), preempt all of Plaintiff's state law claims except for a portion of Plaintiff's breach of contract claim. Defendant admits that Plaintiff's breach of contract claim is not preempted by federal law, but Defendant contends that Plaintiff cannot obtain any punitive damages or injunctive relief on its breach of contract claim.

II. DISCUSSION
A. Legislative History Of The Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act

In 1994, Congress passed the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act ("FAAAA"), effective on January 1, 1995. As part of the FAAAA, Congress enacted (1) the predecessor to § 14501(c)(1) (which was codified at 49 U.S.C. § 11501(h)(1))1 and (2) § 41713(b)(4). Sections 14501(c)(1) and 41713(b)(4) are preemption statutes which remove the states' regulatory power over motor and intermodal carriers, such as Defendant.

1. The Words of the Federal Statutes Imply a Broad Preemptive Scope

In construing a federal statute, the Court is compelled to effectuate Congress's intentions in enacting the statute. FMC Corp. v. Holliday, 498 U.S. 52, 57, 111 S.Ct. 403, 407, 112 L.Ed.2d 356 (1990). The Court's analysis begins, and usually ends, with the language of the statute. Estate of Cowart v. Nicklos Drilling Co., 505 U.S. 469, 475, 112 S.Ct. 2589, 2594, 120 L.Ed.2d 379 (1992). The Court proceeds with "the assumption that the ordinary meaning of [the words employed in the statute] accurately expresses the legislative purpose." Holliday, 498 U.S. at 57, 111 S.Ct. at 407 (internal quotation marks omitted).

Section 14501(c)(1) provides that no state shall enact or enforce any law, regulation, or any other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier, as follows:

(c) Motor carriers of property.

(1) General rule. — Except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3), a State, political subdivision of a State, or political authority of 2 or more states may not enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier ... or any motor private carrier, broker, or freight forwarder with respect to the transportation of property.

49 U.S.C. § 14501(c)(1) (emphasis supplied). Similarly, § 41713(b)(4) provides that no state shall enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of an air carrier, as follows:

(4) Transportation by air carrier or carrier affiliated with a direct air carrier.

(A) General rule. — Except as provided in subparagraph (B), a State, political subdivision of a State, or political authority of 2 or more States may not enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of an air carrier through common controlling ownership when such carrier is transporting property by aircraft or by motor vehicle (whether or not such property has had or will have a prior or subsequent air movement).

49 U.S.C. § 41713(b)(4)(A) (emphasis supplied).

The operative phrase in the above statutes is "related to." "The ordinary meaning of these words is a broad one — `to stand in some relation; to have bearing or concern; to pertain; refer; to bring into association with or connection with.'" Morales v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 504 U.S. 374, 383, 112 S.Ct. 2031, 2037, 119 L.Ed.2d 157 (1992) (quoting BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 1158 (5th ed.1979)). The words "thus express a broad pre-emptive purpose." Id.

The United States Supreme Court repeatedly has recognized that a similarly worded preemption provision in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA") — which preempts all state laws insofar as they relate to any employee benefit plan — has a broad scope. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. v. Massachusetts, 471 U.S. 724, 739, 105 S.Ct. 2380, 2388-89, 85 L.Ed.2d 728 (1985). The Supreme Court has stated that the "breadth of [that provision's] preemptive reach is apparent from [its] language," Shaw v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., 463 U.S. 85, 96, 103 S.Ct. 2890, 2899-2900, 77 L.Ed.2d 490 (1983); and that it has an "expansive sweep." Pilot Life Ins. Co. v. Dedeaux, 481 U.S. 41, 47, 107 S.Ct. 1549, 1553, 95 L.Ed.2d 39 (1987). Further, the Supreme Court has stated that the provision is "deliberately expansive," id. at 46, 107 S.Ct. at 1552, and "conspicuous for its breadth." Holliday, 498 U.S. at 58, 111 S.Ct. at 407. Consequently, the Supreme Court has held that a state law "relates to" an employee benefit plan, and is preempted by ERISA, "if it has a connection with, or reference to, such a plan." Morales, 504 U.S. at 384, 112 S.Ct. at 2037 (citing Shaw, 463 U.S. at 97, 103 S.Ct. at 2900).

The Supreme Court adopted the same standard in determining the scope of the preemption provision contained in the Airline Deregulation Act ("ADA") — which preempts any state law, regulation, or provision having the force and effect of law related to the prices, routes, or services of any airline — and held that "State enforcement actions having a connection with or reference to airline `rates, routes, or services' are pre-empted under the ADA's preemption provision." Morales, 504 U.S. at 384, 112 S.Ct. at 2037.

Considering the analysis motivating the Supreme Court's holdings regarding the preemption provisions of ERISA and the ADA, the Court finds that Congress intended for the preemption provision of the FAAAA — which employs identical language to the preemption provision of the ADA — to be broad in scope and that the FAAAA's preemption provision precludes any state enforcement action having a connection with or reference to any price, route, or service of any motor carrier, motor private carrier, or air carrier.

2. Congress Intended for the Preemptive Scope of the FAAAA to be Identical to the Preemptive Scope of the Airline Deregulation Act

Further, the language Congress chose in drafting the preemption provisions of the FAAAA shows that Congress intended for the preemption provisions of the FAAAA to be applied in an identical manner as the preemption provision of the ADA. Accord Vieira v. United Parcel Service, Inc., No. C-95-04697, 1996 WL 478686, at *1 (N.D.Cal. Aug.5, 1996). The preemption provision of the ADA, which is placed in the same section as one of the preemption provisions of the FAAAA, provides that a state may not enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of an air carrier, as follows:

(b) Preemption. (1) Except as provided in this subsection, a State, political subdivision of a State, or political authority of at least 2 States may not enact or enforce a law,...

To continue reading

Request your trial
62 cases
  • Apa Excelsior III, L.P. v. Windley
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Georgia
    • July 27, 2004
    ...that ruling; however, they make no effort to meet the standards for reconsideration. See Deerskin Trading Post, Inc. v. United Parcel Serv. of Am., Inc., 972 F.Supp. 665, 674 (N.D.Ga.1997) (a motion for reconsideration should not be used to reiterate arguments that have been made previously......
  • Worsham v. Provident Companies, Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Georgia
    • July 29, 2002
    ...or change in the law, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent a manifest injustice." Deerskin Trading Post, Inc. v. United Parcel Serv. of Am., Inc., 972 F.Supp. 665, 674 (N.D.Ga.1997). Moreover, a motion for reconsideration may not be used to offer new legal theories or evidence th......
  • All World Professional Travel v. American Airlines
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Central District of California
    • July 3, 2003
    ...that state law claim of unjust enrichment comes under the scope of 49 U.S.C. § 41713(b)(1)), Deerskin Trading Post, Inc. v. United Parcel Serv., 972 F.Supp. 665, 673 (N.D.Ga.1997)(finding claim for injunctive relief preempted by Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act, whose preem......
  • In re Jetblue Airways Corp. Privacy Litigation
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of New York
    • July 29, 2005
    ...limitation of liability for damage to contents of packages that occurred during shipment); Deerskin Trading Post, Inc. v. United Parcel Service of America, Inc., 972 F.Supp. 665 (N.D.Ga.1997) (plaintiff alleged defendant inappropriately based prices on the dimensional weight of packages rat......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT