United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
RICHWELL GROUP, INC. d/b/a MAXFIELD SEAFOOD, Plaintiff,
SENECA LOGISTICS GROUP, LLC, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Talwani United States District Judge
Richwell Group, Inc. d/b/a Maxfield Seafood
(“Richwell”) brought this action against
Defendant Seneca Logistics Group, LLC (“Seneca”),
alleging that Seneca failed to deliver a truckload of lobster
that Richwell contracted to have shipped, resulting in the
shipment's total loss. Seneca counterclaimed for
Richwell's failure to pay for other lobster shipments.
The court granted in part and denied in part the parties'
cross-motions for summary judgment and Richwell now seeks an
assessment of damages on the one unresolved claim and entry
of judgment, including prejudgment interest assessed under
state law, and costs. Motion for Assessment of Damages
and Entry of Judgment [#99]. For the following reasons,
Richwell's Motion is ALLOWED, except that prejudgment
interest is calculated pursuant to federal law.
Calculation of Damages
summary judgment, the court found that Seneca had acted as a
carrier and granted Richwell judgment as to liability on its
Carmack Amendment claim (Count I of the Amended Complaint).
Memorandum & Order 9 [#97]. The court concluded,
however, that the amount of damages owed by Seneca had not
been addressed by the parties and remained in dispute.
Id. Richwell's motion now seeks damages in the
amount of $279, 572.50.
the Carmack Amendment, a carrier is subject to liability
“for the actual loss or injury to the property caused
by [the carrier].” 49 U.S.C. § 14706(a)(1). The
“ordinary measure of damages” under the Carmack
Amendment is “the difference between the market value
of the property in the condition in which it should have
arrived at the place of destination and its market value in
the condition in which, by reason of the fault of the
carrier, it did arrive.” Gulf, Colo., & Santa
Fe Ry. Co. v. Tex. Packing Co., 244 U.S. 31, 37 (1917).
The First Circuit has summarized this calculation as
“the reduction in market value at destination or by
replacement or repair costs occasioned by the harm.”
Camar Corp. v. Preston Trucking Co. Inc., 221 F.3d
271, 277 (1st Cir. 2000). See also Am. Nat. Fire Ins. Co.
ex rel. Tabacalera Contreras Cigar Co. v. Yellow Freight
Sys., Inc., 325 F.3d 924, 931 (7th Cir. 2003) (stating
that the purpose of damages is to put “the shipper back
in the position it would have been in had the carrier
properly performed.”). The Carmack Amendment
incorporates “common law principles of damages, ”
Camar, 221 F.3d at 277, and the carrier shoulders
the burden to show that the market value rule will not result
in a just measure of actual damages. Project Hope v. M/V
IBN SINA, 250 F.3d 67, 77 (2d Cir. 2001) (finding that
when there is no open market and therefore no market value
for the damaged goods, a different measurement like
replacement cost may be used). When goods are lost completely
or destroyed, the court must determine the market value of
the goods without any offset for their value on arrival.
See Polaroid Corp. v. Schuster's Exp., Inc., 484
F.2d 349, 352 (1st Cir. 1973). The court looks for
non-speculative evidence establishing the market value of the
goods to set the award of damages for the total loss of
goods. Camar, 221 F.3d at 277-78.
Richwell asserts a market value for the lost goods of $279,
572.50, based on invoices provided to Richwell by its
original supplier of the goods, Aquashell Holdings Inc.
Seneca. Ex. 1 - Purchase Order Invoices (Zhang Aff.)
[#100-1]. In basing the market value on the price invoiced by
the supplier, rather than the price Richwell sought to charge
the purchaser, Richwell has waived any claim for lost
profits. Pl.'s Mot. for Assessment of Damages and Entry
of J. 1-2 (“Pl.'s Mot.”) [#99]. Seneca does
not argue that the invoices are fraudulent or inflated, and
offers no argument as to why the invoices are not an accurate
calculation of the goods' market value.
instead contends the court should calculate the damages based
on the harm Richwell suffered, which Seneca contends is the
amount Richwell actually paid to the supplier.Def, 's
Opp'n to Mot. for Assessment of Damages and Entry of
Judgment (“Def.'s Opp'n”) 2-4 [#103];
Def.'s Suppl. Mem. 2 [#109]. However, Seneca misreads the
statute and precedential cases. “Actual loss” in
the Carmack Amendment means the value of the goods lost. 49
U.S.C. § 14706(a)(1) (“The liability
imposed…is for actual loss or injury to the
property caused by [the carrier]”) (emphasis
added). The default equation for determining damages is the
difference between the market value of the property and the
value of goods after damage or loss by the carrier.
Gulf, 244 U.S. at 37. Thus, damages are not limited
to the amount Richwell actually paid for the goods. If, for
example, an insurer paid the bill or a shipper failed to pay
its supplier, those facts would have no bearing on the value
of the goods. The amount actually paid is relevant only
insofar as it helps the court determine the goods' market
value at the time the carrier lost or damaged the goods.
Camar, 221 F.3d at 277. Under the default rule,
Richwell's actual loss, per the Carmack Amendment, is the
value of the lobsters lost, not the amount of money Richwell
may have paid to its supplier at the end of the day. See
Eastman Kodak Co. v. Westway Motor Freight, Inc., 949
F.2d 317, 320 (10th Cir. 1991) (finding invoices to be
sufficient evidence of market value to measure shipper's
argues that Camar and Ameriswiss Tech., LLC v.
Midway Line of Ill., Inc., 890 F.Supp.2d 189 (D. N.H.
2012), requires Richwell to submit the amount it actually
paid its supplier. Def.'s Supp. Mem. 2-3 [#109]. The
Camar court followed the Supreme Court's dictate
that damages are calculated based on the reduction in market
value by the harm caused by the carrier. Camar, 221
F.3d at 277. The trial court searched for and found as
“non-speculative evidence of the market value of the
lost equipment” the price the shipper recently paid for
the goods. Camar Corp v. Preston Trucking Co., Inc.,
18 F.Supp.2d 112, 116 (D. Mass. 1998), aff'd by
221 F.3d 271. Upon review, the First Circuit agreed that the
price paid was an appropriate non-speculative piece of
evidence as to the goods' market value because that price
showed what the goods were most recently worth on the open
market. Camar, 221 F.3d at 278. The court also
affirmed the trial court's finding that the price of
expected future sales or the original price of the damaged
goods when bought new by a previous owner, both offered by
the shipper as the true market value, were speculative and
therefore insufficient evidence to base its damages award on.
Id. at 277.
Ameriswiss Tech., LLC, the district court followed
the same rubric used in Camar and by the Supreme
Court. The court distinguished between evidence of what the
shipper paid for the goods with the shipper's expert
testimony purporting to offer the true worth of the goods.
890 F.Supp.2d at 192-93. The court found the latter to be
speculative. Id. In both cases, however, the salient
point was not that the shipper had handed over money for the
goods to its supplier or that such amounts are the only
measure of market value, but rather that the evidence
measured by the price the shipper paid served as a
non-speculative variable needed to calculate the market value
of the damaged goods pursuant to the Supreme Court's
here, the invoices showing the price that Richwell was billed
for the lobsters by its supplier is non-speculative evidence
of the goods' value on the open market at the time they
were lost by Seneca. Seneca does not dispute that the
invoices are accurate. Nor has Seneca provided any persuasive
rationale for why the invoices do not reflect the
lobsters' value on the open market. See,
e.g., Project Hope, 250 F.3d at 77.
Therefore, the court finds the prices listed on the invoices
sufficient, non-speculative evidence as to the market value
of the goods at the time the goods were lost by the carrier.
Since the entire value of the goods was destroyed, the
damages on the Carmack Amendment claim is the total market
value of the goods, as reflected in the invoices.
Gulf, 244 U.S. at 37.
the Court ALLOWS Richwell's Motion as to damages and
awards $279, 572.50 on the Carmack Amendment claim.
Entry of Judgment
action included, in addition to the Carmack Amendment claim,
two state law causes of action. Amended Complaint
[#18]. The court granted Seneca's motion for summary
judgment on the state law claims. Mem. & Order 9 [#97].
On Seneca's Counterclaim [#57], the court found
on summary judgment that Seneca had established that Richwell
failed to pay two invoices for other lobster shipments. Mem.
& Order 10-12 [#97]. The court entered summary judgment
on Seneca's breach of contract claim, and awarded Seneca
damages of $8, 345. The court granted Richwell ...