United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE
BERNARD A. FRIEDMAN, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on defendant's motion for
judgment on the pleadings [docket entry 11]. Plaintiffs have
responded. Defendant has not replied, and the time to do so
has expired. Pursuant to E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2), the Court
shall decide this motion without a hearing.
M form transports and assembles heavy machinery. Am. Compl.
¶ 2. Plaintiff GWS Logistics provides transportation
services. Id. ¶ 3. In October 2016, ICE
Industries contracted with M form to disassemble a machine
press in Montgomery, Alabama and transport it to and
reassemble it in Grenada, Mississippi. Id. ¶
16. M form subcontracted with GWS to transport the press.
Id. ¶ 18. GWS further subcontracted-using
transportation broker TCM Transport-with defendant J.J. &
Associates to transport the 1, 200-ton press crown.
Id. ¶ 19. Plaintiffs allege that the subcontract
identifies M form as a customer. Id. ¶¶
February 2017, J.J. and GWS executed a bill of lading-signed
by a J.J. employee-stating that J.J. would transport the
press crown to Grenada, Mississippi. Id.
¶¶ 64- 65. The press crown was loaded undamaged
onto J.J.'s truck. Id. ¶ 68. During
transport, however, the press crown's connecting arms
were damaged. Id. ¶ 22. M form determined that
the press crown “lost a significant portion of surface
during transportation which was critical to the integrity of
the connecting arms.” Id. ¶ 24. ICE
industries made an insurance claim on the machinery for $124,
736. Id. ¶ 25. As a result of the delay in
assembly, plaintiffs sustained business expenses, damages,
and costs. Id. ¶ 76.
filed the instant action in Macomb County Circuit Court in
May 2017. Defendant removed it to this Court in July.
Plaintiffs amended their complaint in September.
deciding a motion for judgment on the pleadings under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c), the Court applies the same standard it
would to decide a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). Albrecht v. Treon, 617 F.3d 890, 893 (6th
Cir. 2010). The Court must “construe the complaint in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept all the
factual allegations as true, and determine whether the
plaintiff can prove a set of facts in support of its claims
that would entitle it to relief.” Shane v. Bunzl
Distrib. USA, Inc., 200 Fed. App'x 397, 401 (6th
Counts I-IV: State Law Claims
first four counts assert claims based on violations of
Michigan common law: breach of contract, negligence,
promissory estoppel, and negligent entrustment. The Carmack
Amendment, 49 U.S.C. § 14706, preempts state-law claims
against interstate carriers. See Exel, Inc. v. S.
Refrigerated Transp., Inc., 807 F.3d 140, 148 (6th Cir.
2015) (holding that “state and common law claims
against” interstate carriers are
“preempted” by the Carmack Amendment). Thus, to
successfully pursue a claim arising from an interstate
shipping contract, a person must sue under the Carmack
Amendment. In the instant case, J.J.-a carrier- transported
the press crown from Alabama to Mississippi. Because
plaintiff's state-law claims are against an interstate
carrier, they are preempted by the Carmack Amendment.
Count V: Carmack Amendment
also seek relief under the Carmack Amendment. J.J. argues,
first, that because plaintiffs are “brokers”
under the Carmack Amendment, they cannot state a claim for
relief. The Carmack Amendment provides relief only to
interstate carriers, not transportation brokers. Id.
at 148-49. A “broker” is a principal or agent who
“sells, offers for sale, negotiates for, or holds
itself out by solicitation, advertisement, or otherwise as
selling, providing, or arranging for, transportation by motor
carrier for compensation.” 49 U.S.C. § 13102(2).
may reveal that plaintiffs are brokers. But taking
plaintiffs' allegations as true-as the Court must in
deciding a motion under Rule 12(c)-the Court can reasonably
infer that plaintiffs are not brokers under the Carmack
Amendment. Plaintiffs allege that they are in the business of
transporting, rigging, installing, and rebuilding heavy
machinery. See, e.g., First Am. Compl. ¶ 3, 5,
11-12. Plaintiffs nowhere allege that they are brokers.
Indeed, by their own description, they are more like motor
carriers than ...