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LSB Industries Inc. v. Prudential Lines Inc.

May 23, 1984

LSB INDUSTRIES, INC., SUMMIT MACHINE TOOL MFG. CORP., AND HERCULES ENERGY MFG. CORP., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,
v.
PRUDENTIAL LINES, INC., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Motley, C.J.) awarding plaintiffs damages and interest for freight overcharges. Affirmed.

Feinberg, Chief Judge, Van Graafeiland and Kearse, Circuit Judges.

Author: Van Graafeiland

VAN GRAAFEILAND, Circuit Judge:

This is an appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York which followed a bench trial before Chief Judge Motley and which awarded damages for freight overcharges to LSB Industries, Inc. and two wholly owned subsidiaries (hereafter "LSB"). Appellant, Prudential Lines, Inc. ("PLI"), contends that the district court erroneously interpreted the applicable tariff. We affirm.

In early 1980, LSB, a distributor of oil-field machinery, and PLI, a maritime carrier flying the American flag, began negotiations for the shipment of LSB machinery from Constanza, Romania to Charleston, South Carolina. During these negotiations, the parties discussed possible rates for shipments on PLI's LASH (lighter-aboard-ship) vessels, which transport pre-loaded barges of 500 or 550 cubic meters capacity. On April 1, 1980, the parties agreed upon two rates, a weight/measure rate which would be applicable if the LASH barges were not loaded fully, and a lump sum rate for fully loaded LASH barges.

Thereafter, PLI amended the tariff it had on file with the Federal Maritime Commission, see 46 U.S.C. ยง 817(b), to reflect the foregoing agreement. The amended tariff provided, in part:*fn1

Commodity Description

and Packaging Rate Basis Rate

Machinery, N.O.S. W/M 40.75 F.I.

Machinerey, N.O.S. -- 20" Cont. L.S. 1,050.00

-- 40" Cont. L.S. 2,205.00

In Full LASH Barges Lump Sum 22,000.00

Although the tariff was amended later to reflect a raise in the shipping rates and to attribute loading responsibility to LSB for shipments in full barges, the terms of the tariff were not otherwise affected.

Between April 5, 1980 and July 31, 1981, LSB made eighteen separate shipments. For the first seven, PLI charged LSB the cubic meter "Machinery, N.O.S." rate. However, for the last eleven voyages, LSB was charged the lump sum rate for "Full LASH Barges" even though the PLI barges were not filled with 500 or 550 cubic meters of machinery. PLI explained to LSB that the lump sum rate was proper according to the tariff and the agreement between the parties and that the cubic meter rate had been charged for the first voyages through error.*fn2 ...


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