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Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co. of America v. Mac Rbehnke Rentals, Ltd.

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division

October 20, 2016

MITSUI SUMITOMO INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
MAC RBEHNKE RENTALS, LTD., Defendant.

          OPINION

          JANET T. NEFF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company of America filed this insurance subrogation action seeking recovery for a $114, 473.66 loss by Plaintiffs insured, Denso Manufacturing Michigan, Inc., related to a shipment of blower motors damaged in a single vehicle trucking accident that occurred during interstate carriage by Defendant Mac R Behnke Rentals, Ltd. Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkts 46, 47); Plaintiff has filed a Response and Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkts 48, 49). Defendant has filed a Reply (Dkt 51), and Plaintiff has filed a Surreply (Dkt 52). Having fully considered the parties' submissions, the Court concludes that oral argument would not assist in the disposition of the issues presented. See W.D. Mich. LCivR 7.2(d).

         For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is denied in part and granted in part; the motion is denied as to Plaintiff s Carmack Amendment claim, but granted as to Plaintiffs Bailment claim. Plaintiffs cross-motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part; the Court concludes that Plaintiff has established the elements of its Carmack Amendment claim, and the only issue remaining for decision is the amount of damages to which Plaintiff is entitled with respect to element three.

         I. Facts

         Pursuant to this Court's dispositive motion procedures, the parties have stipulated to the following Joint Statement of Facts (JSMF) (Dkt 50) for purposes of the cross-motions:

1. This action involves a shipment of blower motors (the "Cargo") carried by defendant, Mac R Behnke Rentals Ltd. ("Behnke").
2. Plaintiff, Mitsui Insurance Company of America ("MSI"), is a corporation engaged in the business of providing insurance.
3. MSI and Denso Manufacturing Michigan, Inc. ("Denso") entered into a contract of insurance, a true and accurate copy of which is submitted as PageID.652-685.
4. MSI paid a claim for loss of the Cargo to its insured, Denso, in return for subrogation rights. A true and accurate copy of the subrogation receipt was submitted as PageID.7.
5. Denso is engaged in the business of manufacturing and assembling components for vehicles. For purposes of the instant action, Denso purchased blower motors from its supplier in North Carolina, ANSO[1] North Carolina, for installation into defrost systems used for trucks.
6. Mac R Behnke Rentals Ltd. ("Behnke") is a Michigan corporation with a principal place of business in Battle Creek, Michigan.
7. At all material times herein, Behnke was engaged in the business of transporting goods by road in interstate commerce pursuant to authority granted by the United States Department of Transportation.
8. On or about June 23, 2009, Denso and Behnke entered into a "Transportation Services Agreement, " a true and accurate copy of which is submitted herewith as Exhibit J-l and made a part hereof (the "Agreement").
9. Pursuant to the Agreement, Denso engaged Behnke to carry the shipment of blower motors that is the subject of this action (the "Shipment") from ANSO's facility in North Carolina to Denso's facility in Michigan.
10. The Shipment contained over 9, 000 blower motors.
11. ANSO packed the Shipment in cardboard containers.
12. Behnke provided a trailer with an air-ride suspension system to minimize road vibration and shock during transportation (the "Trailer").
13. On or about October 15, 2013, the Shipment was loaded into the Trailer at ANSO's facility.
14. Upon completion of loading of the Shipment into the Trailer, Behnke issued a bill of lading, a true and accurate copy of which is submitted as PageID.8.
15. On October 16, 2013 at 3:03 a.m., during interstate carriage of the Shipment, Behnke's truck traveled through Ohio. Behnke's truck veered off the road, hit a concrete embankment and entered a field, where it ultimately stopped (the "Accident").
16. No other vehicles were involved in the Accident.
17. A true and accurate copy of the police report related to the Accident is submitted herewith as PagelD. 12-14.
18. Following the Accident, a wrecker truck assisted in extracting Behnke's Trailer from the field.
19. In the field, while attempting to extract the Trailer, the wrecker truck pulled the Trailer such that the axles pulled away from the frame of the Trailer.
20. As a result of the wrecker pulling the axles away from the frame of the Trailer, the trailer was no longer suitable for road carriage. Therefore, the wrecker hauled the Trailer to a shop in Ohio for repair.
21. Behnke dispatched a separate trailer to the shop in Ohio to complete the carriage of ...

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