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Wilbur E. Dow v. United Van Lines and Rimback Storage Co.

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT


March 7, 1985

WILBUR E. DOW, JR., APPELLANT
v.
UNITED VAN LINES AND RIMBACK STORAGE COMPANY

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY, D.C. Civil No. 81-3411, District Judge: Honorable Clarkson S. Fisher

Author: Weis

Before: ADAMS, WEIS and WISDOM*fn* , Circuit Judges.

MEMORANDUM OPINION OF THE COURT

WEIS, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff was the owner of household goods which he entrusted to the defendants for transit and storage. At the time he placed the order for shipment, plaintiff, in writing, "released" the goods to the carrier "to a value not exceeding $30,000."

The district court entered summary judgment for the defendants in two separate orders. in each the court ruled that the plaintiff's entitlement was limited to $30,000 because of the valuation he had placed on his property.

It is undisputed that plaintiff had received $34,000 in settlement of an earlier lawsuit against defendants in state court. That sum had been paid by the Allstate Insurance Company which insured on e or both of the defendants. Because plaintiff had received the full amount of the valuation he had placed on his property, the district court concluded he was precluded from any further recovery.

The defendants' allegedly careless and callous conduct in failing to properly store the plaintiff's property understandably would create the feelings of outrage he now expresses. Nevertheless, the degree of negligence, if any, is irrelevant. The issue is whether plaintiff is bound by his declared valuation of the household goods.

We conclude that this case is governed by the Carmack AMendment, 49 U.S.C. § 20(11), recodified at 49 U.S.C. § 11707 (1982). That statutory provision limits the carrier's liability to the declared valuation. See 49 U.S.C. § 10730 (1982). In Howe v. Allied Van Lines, Inc., 622 F.2d 1147 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 992 (1980), this court said that "Congress in the Carmack Amendment in 1906 federalized and thus made uniform, law of common carrier liability in interstate commerce transactions. . . . [a carrier] could contract for a rate reflecting a declared value of the goods shipped" provided an appropriate tariff were filed. Those conditions have been fulfilled here.

Although in some aspects Howe differs from the case at hand, the portion to which we have referred makes it clear that the district court properly ruled in favor of defendants here. Accordingly, the judgment of the district court will be affirmed.


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