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CATERPILLAR OVERSEAS, S.A. v. S/S HAVTROLL

November 16, 1971

CATERPILLAR OVERSEAS, S.A., Plaintiff,
v.
S/S HAVTROLL, her engines, etc., et al., Defendants


Pollack, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: POLLACK

POLLACK, District Judge.

The decision of the Court is as follows:

 This is an admiralty and maritime claim based on cargo damage and is, therefore, within the jurisdiction of this Court.

 The plaintiff is a corporation with offices and places of business in Illinois and Grimbergen, Belgium. Its parent organization, Caterpillar Tractor Company, has its plant in Illinois. They will be referred to hereafter as Caterpillar.

 Defendant P. Meyer is a foreign individual and defendant A/S Havtor is a foreign corporation.

 Defendants P. Meyer and A/S Havtor operate the S/S Havtroll, which is a foreign flag ocean going vessel. Defendants P. Meyer and A/S Havtor are doing business as a common carrier of merchandise under the name "Meyer Line."

 Boyd, Weir & Sewell, Inc., are general agents for the defendants P. Meyer and A/S Havtor (Meyer Line).

 Wedemann & Godnecht, Incorporated, Wedemann hereafter, was the freight forwarder and is the agent of plaintiff Caterpillar in connection with the cargo in suit.

 The parties hereto operated under a plan whereby Wedemann was in charge of cargo shipped from Illinois into the New York area by railroad and destined for overseas. During the transit of the cargo from the railroad yards to the pier Wedemann issued instructions to the trucker who hauled the cargo from the yard to the pier. The trucker was jointly selected by the plaintiff and the defendant. Wedemann prepared the dock receipts and bills of lading required for the shipments. It was agreed that the trucker's delivery charge was to be advanced by Meyer Line and invoiced by it to the Caterpillar Tractor Company for the actual amount of the charge.

 On September 4, 1969, a shipment from Caterpillar of cartons containing road machinery parts and other items was delivered in a damaged container to the defendant's pier in Brooklyn, New York, for carriage by the defendant to Antwerp, Belgium, to be delivered to Caterpillar there. The cargo was shipped by Caterpillar from Illinois to Jersey City, New Jersey, via Erie Lackawanna Railroad, there to be picked up by trailer truck to be transported to the defendant's pier in Brooklyn, New York.

 On September 3 and September 4 unusually heavy rains occurred in the New Jersey areas. The cargo was picked up by the selected trucker, but its trailer truck met with an accident and overturned in the railroad yards damaging the container and causing a number of the cartons to become wet in the pools of water that had formed as a result of the heavy rains.

 The plaintiff was immediately notified by Wedemann, as well as by the defendant's representative, of the accident.

 The container was then transported in its damaged condition to a covered shed on the defendant's pier in Brooklyn and thereafter repacked in a sound container. In this repacking process it was determined that fourteen cartons had become wet from fresh water.

 When so notified, Caterpillar instructed that the entire cargo go forward nonetheless to its destination in Antwerp, Belgium, to the ...


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