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12-cv-00126

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Case Summary: Universal Medical Systems, Inc. V. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., 12-cv-00126, (N.D. Ohio)

This is a relatively simple contract dispute case involving the shipment of and damage to an MRI machine.

Plaintiff, Universal Medical Systems (“UMS”), sent an MRI machine from Ohio to a client in Florida through CH Robinson Worldwide (who arranged for the transportation with a third-party motor carrier who was, in this case, Amello Business Venture Carriers [“ABV”] who is named as a third party defendant) and the machine arrived damaged. UMS alleges that it was not secured in the truck properly thus causing $64,000 of damage. It has sued CH Robinson and ABV under 49 USC §14706, commonly known as the Carmack Amendment, and pursuant to common law theories of contract and negligence. The videos are of the jury trial in this matter.

There appears to be no dispute that the machine wasn’t secured properly or that it was damaged as a result. The key issue appears to be whether CH Robinson is liable under the Carmack Amendment as a freight forwarder or motor carrier or not liable because it is a transportation broker. A freight forwarder not only arranges transport, but also plays a role in the assembly, consolidation, break bulk and distribution of the freight; assumes responsibility for the transportation from the place of receipt to the place of destination; and uses an interstate carrier for any part of the transport. A motor carrier is “a person providing transportation for compensation.” A transportation broker is a person who sells, offers for sale, negotiaties for, or holds itself out as selling, providing, or arranging for, transportation by motor carrier for compensation. The jury found that CH Robinson was a motor carrier, found them liable under the Carmack Amendment, and awarded $57,581.01 in damages.

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Case-related documents, including those referenced above, are available via the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service. For more information, visit Pacer.gov.