Customers aren’t always right

Henry Seaton is a lawyer who represents carriers in contract disputes, collection matters, cargo claims and insurance questions. E-mail [email protected].

Q Our company is a no-touch operation, and we do not experience significant claims problems. On a particular load, a shipper pre-loaded a spotted trailer and upon delivery one pallet was found to have slid off the pallet. It appears the paper was loaded on a broken pallet that caused the lading to slide into the missing slats. Is there a basis for denying the resulting claim and holding the shipper accountable for the defective pallet?

A You have a shipper load and count problem. Section 7-301 provides:

“The issuer (the carrier) may, by inserting in the bill the words ‘Shipper’s weight, load and count’ or other words of like import indicate that the goods were loaded by the shipper; if such statement be true, the issuer shall not be liable for damage caused by improper loading. But their omission does not imply liability for such damages.”

Similar language is found in the Bill of Lading Act, 49 U.S.C.