United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
DONALD J. KRAUSS et al., Plaintiffs,
IRIS USA, INC. et al., Defendants.
E.K. Pratter United States District Judge.
motion for reconsideration, the Court must evaluate whether
newly discovered evidence warrants review of its prior ruling
that a state tort claim against a freight broker was
preempted by a federal shipping statute. Because the alleged
new evidence does not change the Court's conclusion that
the state tort claim would have a significant effect on the
broker's services, the Court denies the motion for
for Autism, a charity in Pennsylvania, contracted to buy
Legos from IRIS, a seller in Wisconsin. IRIS hired a freight
broker, C.H. Robinson, which in turn hired a carrier, KV
Load, to deliver the Legos. But the seller (IRIS) and carrier
(KV Load) did not load the Legos in the safe manner that the
charity had requested. Instead, they used old pallets of the
wrong size, and they dangerously stacked the pallets one on
top of another. The shoddy loading damaged the Legos in
transit and caused a pallet to crack during delivery,
injuring a volunteer for the charity and damaging a forklift.
plaintiffs are a cluster of charities (Fightback, JC Rehab,
and CGB Rehab), the charities' President and CEO (Cindy
G. Brillman), and the injured volunteer (Donald J. Krauss).
Originally, the defendants were IRIS, the seller of the Lego
baseplates; C.H. Robinson, the freight broker; and KV Load,
the shipper. KV Load was dismissed from the case late last
latest iteration of the complaint, the plaintiffs bring three
counts against IRIS and C.H. Robinson. The counts sound in
both tort and contract. In May 2018, the Court held that Mr.
Krauss's personal-injury claim against C.H. Robinson was
preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration
Authorization Act, 49 U.S.C. § 14501, et seq.
See Memorandum & Order, Doc. Nos. 88 & 89.
The plaintiffs have filed a motion for reconsideration of
that ruling on the basis of what they describe as newly
the FAAAA, a state law is preempted if it has a
“significant economic effect” on a broker's
rates, routes, or services. Memorandum, Doc. No. 88, at 7
(quoting Georgia Nut Co. v. C.H. Robinson Co., No.
17-3018, 2017 WL 4864857, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 26, 2017)).
In this case, Mr. Krauss alleged that C.H. Robinson had
carelessly selected KV Load as the freight carrier. The
gravamen of Mr. Krauss's claim was that C.H.
Robinson's quality-control process in selecting a risky
carrier like KV Load was insufficient; a more
“heightened and elaborate” process was needed.
Id. at 9 (quoting Rockwell v. United Parcel
Serv., Inc., No. 2:99-CV-57, 1999 WL 33100089, at *3 (D.
Vt. July 7, 1999)). In May 2018, Court held that this claim
was preempted because it went “to the core of what it
means to be a careful broker” and would therefore have
a significant effect on C.H. Robinson's services.
preemption opinion, the Court noted that the inquiry was
“fact-specific” and couched its
“narrow” ruling “in the particular
circumstances of this case.” Memorandum, Doc. No. 88,
at 9, 13. Seizing on this language, the plaintiffs now argue
that evidence discovered after briefing and oral argument
undercuts the Court's decision on preemption. Citing this
new evidence, the plaintiffs have filed a motion for
reconsideration. See Lazaridis v. Wehmer, 591 F.3d
666, 669 (3d Cir. 2010) (explaining that one ground for
reconsideration is “the availability of new
supposed new evidence falls into three categories: (1) KV
Load's participation in a special carrier program offered
by C.H. Robinson; (2) a notation on the website of the
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; and (3) other
general evidence of KV Load's riskiness. Because the
evidence is simply not as groundbreaking as the plaintiffs
would have the Court believe, the Court denies the motion for
C.H. Robinson's Carrier Management Program
first category of new evidence is a notation about KV Load in
C.H. Robinson's internal computer system that was entered
ten days before the accident:
2/9/2015: NO CARRIER MANAGEMENT - From branch rep
WARRCHR for ROYFALE, “Please remove this carrier from
PCM, ” Removed, Marked DNA
plaintiffs argue that this notation demonstrates that C.H.
Robinson's extant processes were sophisticated enough to
flag KV Load as a problematic carrier. In other words, no
“heightened” process would be needed to avoid
this kind of accident in the future. As a result, this
argument goes, a tort claim against C.H. Robinson would have