United States District Court, Southern District of New York
THOMAS P. GRIESA U.S.D.J.
Before the court is a motion to compel arbitration in a contract dispute. The dispute concerns allegations by plaintiff Affiliated FM Insurance Company (“Affiliated FM”) that defendant Maersk Trucking Holdings, Inc., f/k/a Bridge Terminal Transport, Inc. (“BTT”) failed to meet its obligations as carrier of certain shipments. BTT argues that Affiliated FM must submit its claims to binding arbitration. Affiliated FM opposes, and makes a cross motion to strike BTT’s affirmative defense that the claims in this case are subject to binding arbitration.
BTT’s motion to compel arbitration is granted. Affiliated FM’s cross-motion to strike is denied.
The Complaint and the Present Motion
During February and April of 2013, BTT agreed to transport certain containers of children’s clothing from Huntsville, Alabama to Fort Payne, Alabama. In this capacity BTT was a motor carrier for Affiliated FM’s subrogor, The Children’s Place Services Company, LLC (“TCP”). Unfortunately, when the containers arrived at their destination, the seals on the containers had been broken and their contents mostly pilfered.
The complaint, dated August 26, 2014, alleges that BTT (1) failed to perform its contractual obligations, (2) acted negligently or recklessly, (3) and breached its bailment duties, all resulting in a loss of $300, 000.
On October 30, 2014, BTT requested in writing that Affiliated FM submit its claims to binding arbitration. Affiliated FM refused. BTT filed the present motion to compel arbitration on November 13, 2014. BTT seeks an order (1) compelling Affiliated FM to submit its claims to arbitration, (2) appointing an arbitrator, and (3) staying this action pending arbitration.
The Arbitration Provision
Prior to the pilfered shipments, TCP contracted with BTT for at least ten other shipments. These were received between October 2, 2012 and June 24, 2013. Upon delivery of these shipments, TCP received delivery receipts from BTT. Each delivery receipt contained the following language:
BTT’s services are subject to the terms, conditions and limitations of liability stated in BTT’s Rules Tariff that are available upon request from BTT, or at http://bttinc.com.
BTT produces copies of these receipts as an attachment to an affidavit in support of this motion.
BTT also produces a copy of the Rules Tariff referenced in those receipts. BTT avows that this Rules Tariff was available on its website from October 2012 to June 2013. The Rules Tariff contains the following provision:
Any and all disputes not resolved between Bridge Terminal Transport, Inc. and Customer will be resolved at binding arbitration, before a recognized arbitration board to be jointly selected by Customer and the Bridge Terminal Transport, Inc. The arbitration shall be held within thirty (30) days of notification from Customer to the Bridge Terminal Transport, Inc. of the need for arbitration. The arbitration will be conducted in a location mutually agreed to by the Bridge Terminal Transport, ...