United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS (DOC. NO. 27)
Sorokin, United States District Judge.
Jana Brands, Inc. (“Jana Brands”) brought this
action on November 2, 2017, and amended its Complaint on
April 20, 2018. Docs. No. 1, 25. The Amended Complaint claims
that the actions of defendants C.H. Robinson, International,
Inc. (“C.H. Robinson”) and Ryan Freight Services,
Inc. (“Ryan”) caused Jana Brands to incur more
than $154, 000 in damages when U.S. Customs and Border
Protection (“CBP”) denied Jana Brands's
claims for refund of previously paid customs duties, taxes,
and fees. Doc. No. 25 ¶ 11, 27. On May 4, 2018,
Defendant C.H. Robinson, International, Inc. (“C.H.
Robinson”) moved to dismiss Counts III and IV against
them for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Doc. No. 27. Jana Brands
opposed. Doc. No. 32. For the reasons set forth below, the
Court ALLOWS in part and DENIES in part C.H. Robinson's
motion to dismiss.
Robinson and Ryan are licensed by CBP to act as brokers on
behalf of third-party importers and purport to be experts in
their field. Doc. No. 25 at ¶ 29. Jana Brands, which
imports tuna in pouches, engaged C.H. Robinson and Ryan to
act as its U.S. customs brokers. Id. at ¶¶
point before September 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration barred from entry into the United States tuna
that Jana Brands had shipped from Thailand. Id.
¶ 11. In their role as Jana Brands's customs
brokers, in September 2015, C.H. Robinson and Ryan filed
unused merchandise drawback claims on behalf of Jana Brands.
Id. at ¶ 10. The claims sought a refund for
duties, taxes, and fees Jana Brands paid on the barred
shipments. Id. at ¶ 11.
the barred shipments had been examined by CBP in Chicago but
were going to be exported back to Thailand from the Port of
Los Angeles, CBP regulations required that the merchandise be
transported in-bond from Chicago to Los Angeles. Id.
at ¶¶ 13, 14; see also 19 C.F.R. §
191.35(d). Such transportation, which occurred without
incident, was arranged for and carried out by parties other
than C.H. Robinson and Ryan. Id. at ¶ 15.
However, CBP regulations require that various paperwork be
completed to effect in-bond transportation, and CBP will deny
drawback claims if these requirements are not met.
Id. at ¶ 18-22. Jana Brands relied on C.H.
Robinson and Ryan to submit to CBP the paperwork required to
effectuate the in-bond transportation process such that Jana
Brands would receive the refund owed. Id. at ¶
24. C.H. Robinson and Ryan failed to properly submit the
paperwork. Id. at ¶¶ 25-26. As a result,
CBP denied Jana Brands' drawback claims, causing Jana
Brands to incur damages of over $154, 000. Id. at
Brands now brings claims of breach of contract (Count I as to
C.H. Robinson and Count II as to Ryan), negligence (Count
III), and unfair and deceptive business practices under Mass.
Gen. Laws ch. 93A, §§ 2, 11 (Count IV) against C.H.
Robinson and Ryan. Id. at ¶¶ 31-49.
survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint
must contain sufficient factual allegations to “state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). In evaluating a complaint, the court must accept all
factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe all
reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor.
Watterson v. Page, 987 F.2d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 1993).
The tenet that a court must accept as true all of the
allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal
conclusions and “threadbare recitals of the elements of
a cause of action.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A
reviewing court must conduct a “context-specific”
assessment of the pleadings by drawing on “its judicial
experience and common sense.” Maldonado v.
Fontanes, 568 F.3d 263, 269 (1st Cir. 2009) (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663-64). A complaint must be
dismissed for failure to state a claim when it lacks
“factual allegations, either direct or inferential,
respecting each material element necessary to sustain
recovery under some actionable legal theory.”
Berner v. Delahanty, 129 F.3d 20, 25 (1st Cir.
C.H. Robinson argues that Counts III and IV against them fail
to state a claim because they are expressly preempted by the
preemption provision of the Interstate Commerce Commission
Termination Act of 1995 (“ICCTA”). The ICCTA, which
governs interstate transportation of property, provides in
[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 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). The ICCTA contains further
definitions of various terms, three of which are particularly
relevant. A “motor carrier” is “a person
providing motor vehicle transportation for
compensation.” Id. § 13102(14). A
“broker” is “a person, other than a motor
carrier or an employee or agent of a motor carrier, that as a
principal or agent sells, offers for sale, negotiates for, or
holds itself out by solicitation, advertisement, or otherwise
as selling, providing, or ...