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Mts Logistics, Inc v. Stone Tile Direct

March 27, 2012

MTS LOGISTICS, INC.,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
STONE TILE DIRECT, LLC, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Paul A. Crotty, United States District Judge:

USDC SDNY

ELECTRONICALLY FILED

DOC #:

OPINION & ORDER

Plaintiff MTS Logistics, Inc. ("Plaintiff"), a non-vessel operating common carrier (or "NVOCC"), sues Defendant Stone Tile Direct, LLC ("Defendant"), a natural stone importer, for damages arising from demurrage, detention, and related charges it incurred due to a misstated cargo weight.

Plaintiff moves for summary judgment, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED as to Defendant's liability and the amount of damages.

BACKGROUND

In June 2010, Defendant purchased natural stone from a company in Konya, Turkey, by the name Lutfi Takavci Insaat Gida Endustri Tuketim Maddeler San. Ve Tic. Ltd. Sti. (the "Turkish Shipper"). (Def. 56.1 ¶ 1.) Defendant then retained Plaintiff's services, and Plaintiff booked an ocean carriage for the stone cargo with Mediterranean Shipping Company ("MSC").

(Pl. 56.1 ¶ 3.)*fn1 On July 4, 2010, Plaintiff issued a bill of lading, which listed the Defendant as the "Consignee" and "Notify Party", the Turkish Shipper as the "Shipper," and which the Plaintiff signed as the "Carrier." (Saka Decl. Ex. 3 (the Bill of Lading).)*fn2 The Defendant does not dispute that it is bound by the Bill of Lading.

Clause 1 of the Bill of Lading provides that Merchants "shall be jointly and severally liable to the Carrier for the payment of all Charges, and for the performance of the obligations of any of them under the Bill of Lading" and defines "Merchants" as the "shipper, consignee, receiver, holder of this Bill of Lading, owner of the cargo or person entitled to the possession of the cargo and the servants or agents of any of these." (Saka Decl. Ex. 3 pg. 3, ¶ 1.) There is no dispute that Defendant qualifies as a Merchant under the Bill of Lading.

Clause 7 of the Bill of Lading provides that Merchants' responsibilities include "warrant[ing] to the Carrier that the description [and particulars of the Goods set out on the face hereof] . . . including, but not limited to, weight, content, measurement, quantity, quality, condition, marks, numbers and values are correct." (Id. ¶ 7(a).) Furthermore, the Bill of Lading provides that "[t]he Merchant shall indemnify the Carrier against all loss, damage, fines and expenses arising or resulting from the inaccuracies in, or inadequacy of, such particulars, and/or arising from any other clause in connection with the goods for which the Carrier is not responsible." (Id. ¶ 7(g).)

The Bill of Lading, on its face, reflected that the Turkish Shipper declared that the cargo weight to be 21,450 KGS. (Id. at 1 (indicating that the "Particulars furnished by Shipper").) The actual weight was later determined to be 60,880 lbs (or approximately 27,615 KGS). (See generally, Saka Decl. Ex. 5.) The Defendant does not dispute that the weight was inaccurately listed.

As a result of the understated weight, cable cranes were unable to safely discharge the stone cargo, leading to port demurrage and vessel detention charges. (Saka Decl. ¶ 6.) MSC passed these charges on to Plaintiff. (Id.) Plaintiff claims to have suffered either $15,811.98 or $17,731.88 in damages. (Compare Pl. Br. 8, with Saka Decl. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff's damages are comprised of: $3,370.00 in demurrage charges; $17,775.96, in vessel detention charges; $1,919.90 in survey fees (which ...


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