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Trans-Pro Logistic, Inc. v. Coby Electronics Corp.

January 6, 2009

TRANS-PRO LOGISTIC, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
COBY ELECTRONICS CORP., DEFENDANT.
COBY ELECTRONICS CORP., THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF,
v.
CSX INTERMODAL, INC. AND YELLOWSTONE FREIGHT, INC. THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Sifton (electronically signed) United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

SIFTON, Senior Judge.

Plaintiff Trans-Pro Logistics, Inc. ("Trans-Pro") commenced this action against defendant Coby Electronics Corp. ("Coby") claiming breach of contract arising out of defendant's alleged failure to remit payment to plaintiff for shipping services rendered on defendant's behalf. Defendant filed counterclaims against plaintiff as well as a third-party complaint against third-party defendants CSX Intermodal, Inc. ("CSXI") and Yellowstone Freight, Inc. ("Yellowstone") alleging that the relevant shipments of goods were lost in the course of transportation provided the third-party defendants.*fn1

Presently before this Court is third-party defendant CSXI's motion seeking reconsideration of this Court's ruling on September 3, 2008, denying third-party defendant CSXI's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, third-party defendant CSXI's motion is again denied.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are drawn from the parties' papers submitted in connection with this motion. Disputes are noted.

Plaintiff Trans-Pro is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of Quebec Province, Canada. Am. Compl. ¶ 3. Plaintiff is a licensed transport broker*fn2 and arranges for the transportation of commercial goods on behalf of shippers in the United States and Canada. Id. ¶ 4; Deposition of Peter Boyko ("Boyko Dep.") at 14-16. According to plaintiff, and disputed by defendant, it does not itself employ drivers or own trucks used for the transportation of goods. Deposition of Denis Charbonneau ("Charbonneau Dep.") at 42; Fax from Trans-Pro Logistics, dated November 30, 2004, Coby Exhibit C.

Defendant and third-party plaintiff Coby is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of New York State, with its principal place of business in Queens. Am. Compl. ¶ 6. Defendant and third-party plaintiff Coby is a wholesaler that imports and sells consumer electronics to retailers. Id. ¶ 7.

On September 1, 2004, plaintiff Trans-Pro and defendant Coby entered into an oral contract for the transportation and delivery of a shipment of goods from defendant Coby's warehouse in California to Interbond Corp. d/b/a Brands Mart ("Brands Mart") in Hollywood, Florida. Coby Am. Answer ¶ 34. The parties dispute whether plaintiff was hired to transport the goods itself or to arrange for the transportation of the goods by others.

According to plaintiff, defendant requested plaintiff to arrange for rail transportation of the goods, and plaintiff agreed to arrange for the shipment of goods by consigning the shipment to various carriers*fn3 for transport and delivery on defendant's behalf. Deposition of Jason Leithead ("Leithead Dep.") at 115-16, 123-25. Defendant states that plaintiff held itself out as a carrier and that defendant hired plaintiff to transport the goods itself. Declaration of Kevin Gu ("Gu Decl.") ¶¶ 3,6; Deposition of Tiffany Lin ("Lin Dep.") at 44, 99, Coby Exhibit B; Deposition of Kevin Gu ("Gu Dep.") at 40, 99, Coby Exhibit A. Defendant states that it did not authorize plaintiff to hire other companies to transport the shipment of goods. Gu Decl. ¶¶ 4,6.

Thereafter, plaintiff hired TRT Carriers ("TRT") to arrange for the transportation of defendant's shipment. Leithead Dep. 117-18. According to third-party defendant CSXI, and disputed by defendant Coby, TRT is a division of a company called NYK Logistics. Plaintiff Trans-Pro hired TRT to arrange for the transportation of defendant's shipment because NYK Logistics had a low-cost rate agreement with third-party defendant CSXI. Id. Plaintiff states, and defendant disputes, that it informed defendant that TRT's trucks would pick up the goods from defendant's warehouse. Leithead Dep. at 125-126. TRT in turn hired third-party defendant CSXI to arrange for the shipment of defendant's goods. Declaration of Joseph McCauley ("McCauley Decl.") ¶ 6.

Third-party defendant CSXI is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the state of Delaware, with its principal place of business in Jacksonville, Florida. Third-Party Compl. ¶ 3. Third-party defendant CSXI calls itself a "shipper's agent" and arranges transportation by rail and motor on behalf of its customers. McCauley Decl. ¶ 7.

The agreement between TRT and third-party defendant CSXI was made pursuant to the terms of the CSXI Service Directory No. 1 ("Service Directory"), effective August 15, 2004. McCauley Decl. ¶ 6. The Service Directory provides the terms for filing a claim against CSXI for lost or damaged cargo. Service Directory Item 90, CSXI Exhibit B. It requires shippers to inform CSXI of a shortage within 24 hours of delivery so that CSXI may inspect the shipment and states that failure to do so serves as a release from liability. Id. The Service Directory requires all claims to be made in writing within eight months from the date of the delivery and also states that if the shipper disputes the denial of a claim, the parties will participate in mediation. Id. If mediation is unsuccessful, the shipper may file legal proceedings within six months of receiving the denial notice in Jacksonville, Florida, or the point of origin or destination of the shipment arranged by CSXI. Id.

Third-party defendant CSXI arranged for American Road Line, Inc. ("ARL"), an independent motor carrier, to transport the shipment from defendant Coby's warehouse to Union Pacific Railways. Union Pacific Railways contracted to ship the goods to Chicago, Illinois, where the goods were to be delivered to CSX Transportation, Inc. ("CSXT"), which was to provide rail transportation to Jacksonville, Florida. Upon arrival in Jacksonville, Florida, the goods were to be delivered to Florida East Coast for rail transportation to Dade County, ...


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