SW Legal studies in Business

Federal Statute Bars Claims Stemming from Carriage of Goods
Description Appeals court affirmed that a federal law specifically preempts common law claims, in tort or contract, made against carriers of goods in interstate commerce.
Topic Torts
Key Words Federal Preemption; Carmack Amendment; Carrier Liability
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts UPS attempted to make a delivery but found no one home and left a note. The Smiths, who were expecting the package, called UPS and demanded delivery that day. When Marlow, the UPS driver, attempted delivery, the Smiths called her derogatory names, so she refused to make the delivery. When the Smiths tried to stop her from leaving, she called the police. Later, a UPS manager made the delivery. Since that day, UPS has refused to make deliveries to the Smiths. The Smiths sued UPS for fraud, negligence, outrage, and other claims. The district court dismissed the suit; the Smiths appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. "The Carmack Amendment creates a uniform rule for carrier liability when goods are shipped in interstate commerce. To accomplish the goal of uniformity, the Carmack Amendment preempts state law claims arising from failures in the transportation and delivery of goods." The federal statute clearly covers all claims that may arise from the carriage of goods, even if the claim is based on alleged damage to a person, not the goods being carried, so long as the claim stems from the fact of carriage of the goods. The Carmack Amendment would not apply if the claim was one of tort not directly related to carriage, such as an assault by a UPS driver, but that is not the case here.

Citation Smith v. United Parcel Service, 296 F.3d 1244 (11th Cir., 2002)

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