Articles Posted in Transportation Law

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Cuahutemoc Gonzalez contracted with several companies, including a company owned by Robert Garcia, to transport silage from a farm. Garcia brought to the farm a tandem truck and a new driver, Raymond Ramierz. During the tandem truck’s first trip, Ramirez collided with a car in which a mother and daughter were traveling. The collision killed all three. Samuel Jackson, the daughter’s father and mother’s former husband, filed suit against Gonzalez, seeking to hold him vicariously liable for the actions of Garcia and Ramirez based on Gonzalez’s alleged status as a motor carrier under both the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (Federal Regulations) and their Texas counterparts (Texas Regulations). Ramirez’s family (the Ramirezes) intervened and asserted negligence claims against Gonzalez under common-law theories of retained control over an independent contract and joint enterprise. The trial court granted Gonzalez’s no-evidence motions for summary judgment as to both the Ramirezes’ and Jackson’s claims. The court of appeals reversed as to the no-evidence summary judgment on Jackson’s claim under the Texas Regulations and on the Ramirezes’ negligence claims based on retained control. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Gonzalez cannot be held liable as a motor carrier under either the Federal Regulations or the Texas Regulations; and (2) the evidence was legally insufficient to show that the same party retained sufficient control over the transportation in which the truck was engaged to owe Ramirez a common-law duty. View "Gonzalez v. Ramirez" on Justia Law

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Shipper engaged Common Carrier to transport computer equipment belonging to Company. Company claimed the shipment was damaged on arrival, and Common Carrier refused to pay the amount that Company claimed Common Carrier had agreed to settle the claim for. Company asserted a claim against Shipper, whose Insurer paid Company. As subrogee, Insurer sued Common Carrier for breach of the settlement agreement. Insurer avoided removal to federal court by not asserting a cargo-damage claim, but, on remand, amended its petition to assert one. Common Carrier contended the cargo-damage claim was barred by limitations because Insurer filed it more than four years after Common Carrier rejected Company's claim. Insurer argued the cargo-damage claim related back to its original action for breach of the settlement agreement and thus was timely filed. The trial court agreed and rendered judgment against Common Carrier. The court of appeals held the cargo-damage claim did not relate back and was therefore barred by limitations. The Supreme Court reversed and rendered judgment for Insurer, holding that Insurer's cargo-damage claim was not barred by limitations, as the cargo-damage claim and breach-of-settlement claim both arose out of the same occurrence and, therefore, the relation-back doctrine applied. View "Lexington Ins. Co. v. Daybreak Express, Inc." on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether, for purposes of Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. 16.068, an action for cargo damage against a common carrier, brought under the Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act, relates back to an action for breach of an agreement to settle the cargo-damage claim. The answer depended on whether the cargo-damage claim was, in the words of section 16.068, "wholly based on a new, distinct, or different transaction or occurrence" than the breach-of-settlement claim. A divided court of appeals held that the cargo-damage claim did not relate back and was therefore barred by limitations. The Supreme Court reversed and rendered judgment for the plaintiff, holding that the cargo-damage claim and the breach-of-settlement claim both arose out of the same occurrence, and therefore, the cargo-damage claim was not barred by limitations. View "Lexington Ins. Co. v. Daybreak Express, Inc." on Justia Law