The Carriage of Goods at Sea Act Requires that Suit Be Brought Within One Year of “Delivery”

The Carriage of Goods at Sea Act Requires that Suit Be Brought Within One Year of “Delivery”

In this case, the plaintiff entered into a contract of carriage wherein the defendant agreed to ship pears to a consignee in Brazil.  A later inspection discovered that the pears froze during the voyage, causing the fruits to perish and the lawsuit ensued.  In defense, the carrier asserted the one-year statute of limitations set forth in the Carriage of Goods at Sea Act, which states: “In any event the carrier and the ship shall be discharged from all liability in respect of loss or damage unless suit is brought within one year after delivery of the goods or the date when the goods should have been delivered.” 46 U.S.C. App’x § 1303(6).

The court granted the carrier’s motion for summary judgment, espousing the Fifth Circuit’s definition of “delivery”:  “‘the carrier places the cargo into the custody of whomever is legally entitled to receive it from the carrier.’” Servicios-Expoarma, C.A. v. Industrial Maritime Carriers, 135 F.3d 984, 992 (5th Cir. 1998).   Here, the plaintiff filed the lawsuit two weeks after the one-year mark from delivery into the custody of the port terminal operator, so the claim was barred.  Finally, the court held that the “custom of the port” doctrine did not change the result because there was no evidence that the port’s custom required anything other than delivery to the terminal operator.

CH Robinson Worldwide, Inc. v. Compañia Libre, 718 F. Supp. 2d 1361 (S.D. Fla. 2010).


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