Carriage Contract Terms In a Lawsuit of a Shipper Against a Carrier for Damages
In Uniden v. Federal Express Corp., 642 F. Supp. 263, 265 (M.D. Pa. 1986), Uniden was bidding on a project managed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of General Services.
One of the requirements of the bidding process was that Uniden post a performance bond by a specific date.
Uniden elected to send the bond by Federal Express "overnight letter."
One of Uniden's agents filled out the shipping invoice.
The front of the shipping invoice contained a limitation of liability clause that provided that Federal Express would not be liable for special, incidental or consequential damages with respect to the shipment.
The clause also limited Federal Express's liability to $ 100.00 for the shipment unless a higher value was declared.
The reverse side of the invoice contained similar language expressly disclaiming all liability for special incidental and consequential damages and limiting pecuniary liability to $ 100.00 unless a higher value was declared.
The performance bond did not arrive in a timely fashion and Uniden was not awarded the bid.
Uniden then sued Federal Express for the lost profits due to Federal Express's failure to deliver the package in a timely fashion.
The learned and distinguished Judge Sylvia H. Rambo of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania rejected Uniden's claim.
She instead entered summary judgment for Federal Express and limited Uniden's recovery to $ 100.00, the amount specified by the limitation of liability clauses in the shipping invoice.
In explaining her decision, Judge Rambo wrote:
The parties entered into a written contract, the terms of which are clear.
A shipper seeking damages from a carrier for delay in delivery or loss of property is bound by the terms of the carriage contract.
By leaving the declared value section of the invoice blank, Uniden limited its expectation of recovery to an amount not in excess of $ 100.00. 642 F. Supp. at 267.