Seattle Team Secures Ninth Circuit Appellate Win in Carmack Amendment Matter

Seattle, Wash. (November 4, 2022) - Seattle Partners Michael A. Jaeger and Keith M. Hayasaka recently secured an appellate victory on behalf of a boat moving company when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Lewis Brisbois’ client pursuant to the Carmack Amendment.

In the underlying case, Lewis Brisbois’ client – a company that has been hauling boats for over 40 years – transported the plaintiff’s boat from Oxnard, California to Portland, Oregon. Prior to doing so, however, the company attempted to persuade the plaintiff that he should not transport the boat due to its extensive pre-existing damage and decayed condition, which rendered it unsuitable for transport. Nevertheless, the plaintiff decided to transport the vessel and signed a bill of lading and acknowledgement of shipper’s responsibilities. He also signed a wood hull release – covering any and all damage to the boat – prior to the boat being picked up for transport. When the boat reached the shipyard in Portland, the yard allegedly told the plaintiff that the boat could not be launched because it had holes and would sink.

Nearly one year after the delivery of the boat in Portland, the plaintiff filed suit against Lewis Brisbois’ client, alleging that as a result of the boat moving company’s negligence, the boat sustained damages in the six-figure range. Lewis Brisbois’ client did not have a record of receiving any communication containing a written claim asserting liability against it between the time the boat was delivered in Oregon and the filing of the complaint. Accordingly, Lewis Brisbois filed a motion for summary judgment in district court on the grounds that the plaintiff’s claim under the Carmack Amendment, 49 U.S.C. § 14706 et seq., failed because he did not satisfy the statutory condition precedent of filing written notice of the claim to the company as required by applicable federal law. The court granted summary judgment in the boat moving company’s favor, and the plaintiffs appealed. 

On appeal, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claim, concluding that the plaintiff “failed to establish a triable issue as to whether [the defendant] had properly limited its liability under the Carmack Amendment or the wood hull release agreement executed by the parties.”

Mr. Jaeger is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Insurance Law and Transportation Practices. His practice focuses on a broad spectrum of litigation, including matters related to insurance defense, premises liability, trucking and transportation law, workers' compensation, maritime, product liability, asbestos litigation, toxic tort litigation, construction defect, public work litigation, property damage, and construction personal injury defense.

Mr. Hayasaka a member of Lewis Brisbois’ General Liability Practice. He has extensive experience litigating and providing claims counseling in a broad variety of areas, including commercial litigation, premises liability, insurance defense, wrongful death, construction injury, railroad, trucking, and motor vehicle accidents.

Learn more about Lewis Brisbois’ Seattle office, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversaryhere.

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