Madison - St. Clair Record

Monday, September 23, 2019

Freight firm sues over damage caused to transformer in transit


By John Breslin | Jun 12, 2019

Tamini Transformer

A freight company is accusing a transport broker of negligence and breach of contract after a claimed $500,000 of damage was caused to a transformer while in transit.

Chicago-headquartered Amsted Rail hired Meadowlark Transport, which operates in Madison County, to organize the movement of the Tamini furnace transformer in late 2015.

Meadowlark hired a trucking company, Landstar Transport, to deliver the transformer, but, according to the complaint filed in Madison County Circuit Court, it was substantially damaged as it was driven under "obviously low-hanging tree branches."

Landstar is also named in the suit, accused of violating provisions of the Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act, a law covering the rights and duties of carriers. The trucking company offered to pay only a part of the cost of the damage, the suit claims.

The plaintiff is seeking judgments in excess of $75,000 from both the broker and the trucking company.

An attorney for Amsted did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Record. Similarly, Meadowlark did not return a call for comment by time of publication.

Meadowlark is accused of negligence because it "owed a duty of select a carrier that provided drivers that were trained and experienced to safely handle Amsted's property during transport."

The company is further accused of breach of contract as it included a provision that Meadowlark must select carriers that "provide equipment that is sufficient in quality and quantity to meet shippers transportation needs."

It breached the contract by hiring Landstar,  whose equipment was "not designed to protect the transformers under such conditions," that is when it was damaged while passing under the low hanging branches.

Under the count against Landstar, Amsted claims that it entered discussions with the trucking company amid claims that the cost of repairing the damage was in excess of $500,000. In January, 2018, Landstar "indicated their willingness to pay only part of the cost of damages to the transformer thereby disallowing a portion of plaintiff's claim."

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