Underwriters at Lloyd's of London v. North American Van Lines., No. 77195

CourtSupreme Court of Oklahoma
Writing for the CourtHARGRAVE; OPALA; ALMA WILSON, J., concurs in judgment. SUMMERS
Citation1992 OK 48,829 P.2d 978
Docket NumberNo. 77195
Decision Date14 April 1992
PartiesUNDERWRITERS AT LLOYD'S OF LONDON, Plaintiff/Appellant, v. NORTH AMERICAN VAN LINES, Defendant/Appellee.

Page 978

829 P.2d 978
1992 OK 48
UNDERWRITERS AT LLOYD'S OF LONDON, Plaintiff/Appellant,
v.
NORTH AMERICAN VAN LINES, Defendant/Appellee.
No. 77195.
Supreme Court of Oklahoma.
April 14, 1992.

Federal Certified Question.

Federal Certified Question from the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit: Is a defendant ... for whom judgment is not rendered but who reduces its liability by successfully asserting the Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act ... as its sole defense throughout the litigation a "prevailing party" entitled to costs under Okla.Stat. tit. 12, § 940? We answer in the negative.

CERTIFIED QUESTION ANSWERED.

Linda G. Alexander, Patricia A. Kirch, Niemeyer, Noland & Alexander, Oklahoma City, for plaintiff/appellant.

David A. Cheek, Victor F. Albert, McKinney, Stringer & Webster, P.C., Oklahoma City, for defendant/appellee.

HARGRAVE, Justice.

This matter comes before us on a question of law certified to this Court from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals pursuant to 20 O.S.1981 § 1602:

Is a defendant, such as North American Van Lines, for whom judgment is not rendered but who reduces its liability by successfully asserting the Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act, 49 U.S.C. 11707, 10730, as its sole defense throughout the litigation a "prevailing party" entitled to costs under Okla.Stat. tit. 12 § 940?

We answer in the negative.

Title 12 O.S.1981 § 940 provides:

Page 979

"A. In any civil action to recover damages for the negligent or willful injury to property and any other incidental costs related to such action, the prevailing party shall be allowed reasonable attorney's fees, court costs and interest to be set by the court and to be taxed and collected as other costs of the action."

North American Van Lines was transporting the household goods of Robert and Lucinda Chapman when the goods were destroyed by a fire that completely destroyed the transport vehicle. Lloyd's reimbursed the Chapmans in excess of $100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand Dollars) pursuant to their insurance contract and sued North American for subrogation. At one point, North American apparently offered to confess judgment for $8,000.00 (Eight Thousand Dollars) under Rule 68, Federal Rules Civil Procedure. At trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Lloyd's for $70,000.00 (Seventy Thousand Dollars) based on a common law negligence theory. North American had answered asserting, among other things, that plaintiff had contractually limited its recovery to $.60 per pound of damaged goods, as set forth in the written agreement of the parties.

North American appealed, asserting that the Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Code preempted the common law negligence cause of action. The Carmack Amendment is a codification of the common law rule of liability for negligent damage to goods in interstate transport. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Underwriters at Lloyd's, London v. North American Van Lines, 890 F.2d 1112 (10th Cir.1989), held that the Carmack Amendment preempted the common law cause of action for negligent destruction of property and vacated the trial court's decision, limited plaintiff's damages to the released value of $.60 per pound per article as established by the bill of lading, and instructed the trial court to enter judgment in conformity with the opinion. On January 31, 1990 the trial court entered an order for the parties to show cause why judgment should not be entered in favor of Lloyd's, London for $7,500.00 (Seven Thousand, Five Hundred Dollars) as per the Tenth Circuit's mandate. On March 28, 1990 the trial court entered judgment for Lloyd's in the amount of $7,500.00 (Seven Thousand, Five Hundred Dollars) against North American. No award of costs or attorneys fees was made in that order.

On April 1, 1990 North American filed an application for attorney's fees. The trial court ruled that North American was the prevailing party on its defense and was entitled to attorney's fees both under Clayton v. Missouri-Kansas-Texas RR. Co. 1 and pursuant to Rule 68, Federal Rules Civil Procedure offer of judgment. Lloyd's appealed and this federal certified question followed. We are not asked to address the effect of the defendant's offer of...

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20 practice notes
  • Atwood v. Atwood, No. 94,393.
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
    • April 3, 2001
    ...result oriented. A party prevails who succeeds on the merits of the claim. Underwriters at Lloyd's of London v. North American Van Lines, 1992 OK 48, 829 P.2d 978. The prevailing party is the one who has judgment rendered at the conclusion of the action. Oklahoma Oil & Gas Exploration Drill......
  • Comanche Nation of Okla. v. Coffey, No. 117,267
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • November 17, 2020
    ...P.2d at 1167.¶14 This Court reaffirmed our definitions of "prevailing party" in Underwriters at Lloyd's of London v. North American Van , 1992 OK 48, 829 P.2d 978. Title 12, § 940 provided, in pertinent part:In any civil action to recover damages for the negligent or willful injury to prope......
  • Le v. Total Quality Logistics, LLC, Case No. 116,382
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
    • May 16, 2018
    ...Inc., 1988 OK CIV APP 8, 761 P.2d 1297 (aircraft engine damaged during shipment); Underwriters at Lloyd's of London v. N. Am. Van Lines ., 1992 OK 48, 829 P.2d 978 ; Seetapun v. Illinois-California Exp., Inc ., 1973 OK 160, 518 P.2d 885 (household goods lost or damaged during transportation......
  • Le v. Total Quality Logistics, LLC, Case Number: 116382
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
    • December 12, 2018
    ...Inc., 1988 OK CIV APP 8, 761 P.2d 1297 (aircraft engine damaged during shipment); Underwriters at Lloyd's of London v. N. Am. Van Lines., 1992 OK 48, 829 P.2d 978; Seetapun v. Illinois-California Exp., Inc., 1973 OK 160, 518 P.2d 885( household goods lost or damaged during transportation); ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
20 cases
  • Atwood v. Atwood, No. 94,393.
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
    • April 3, 2001
    ...result oriented. A party prevails who succeeds on the merits of the claim. Underwriters at Lloyd's of London v. North American Van Lines, 1992 OK 48, 829 P.2d 978. The prevailing party is the one who has judgment rendered at the conclusion of the action. Oklahoma Oil & Gas Exploration Drill......
  • Comanche Nation of Okla. v. Coffey, No. 117,267
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • November 17, 2020
    ...P.2d at 1167.¶14 This Court reaffirmed our definitions of "prevailing party" in Underwriters at Lloyd's of London v. North American Van , 1992 OK 48, 829 P.2d 978. Title 12, § 940 provided, in pertinent part:In any civil action to recover damages for the negligent or willful injury to prope......
  • Le v. Total Quality Logistics, LLC, Case No. 116,382
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
    • May 16, 2018
    ...Inc., 1988 OK CIV APP 8, 761 P.2d 1297 (aircraft engine damaged during shipment); Underwriters at Lloyd's of London v. N. Am. Van Lines ., 1992 OK 48, 829 P.2d 978 ; Seetapun v. Illinois-California Exp., Inc ., 1973 OK 160, 518 P.2d 885 (household goods lost or damaged during transportation......
  • Le v. Total Quality Logistics, LLC, Case Number: 116382
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
    • December 12, 2018
    ...Inc., 1988 OK CIV APP 8, 761 P.2d 1297 (aircraft engine damaged during shipment); Underwriters at Lloyd's of London v. N. Am. Van Lines., 1992 OK 48, 829 P.2d 978; Seetapun v. Illinois-California Exp., Inc., 1973 OK 160, 518 P.2d 885( household goods lost or damaged during transportation); ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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