United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ROYAL SMIT TRANSFORMERS BV ET AL.
HC BEA-LUNA M/V ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
M. AFRICK UNITED STATUES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are two motions for summary judgment and a
motion to dismiss filed by the defendants. The
motions for summary judgment are substantively identical. The
motion to dismiss was filed by Onego Shipping &
Chartering BV. It seeks dismissal for improper venue and only
becomes relevant if the motions for summary judgment are
denied. Because the Court grants summary judgment, the Court
does not address the venue issue.
November 2015, Royal SMIT Transformers BV
(“Royal”) agreed to sell three electrical
transformers to non-party Entergy Louisiana, LLC. The
transformers were manufactured in the Netherlands. Pursuant
to its agreement with Entergy, Royal was to deliver and
install the transformers at an Entergy facility located in
St. Gabriel, Louisiana. To accomplish this, Royal contracted
with Central Oceans USA, LLC (“Central Oceans”),
a common carrier. Central Oceans was to transport the
transformers from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, to the Entergy
facility in Louisiana by any method of Central Oceans'
fulfill its contractual obligations to Royal, Central Oceans
entered into separate contracts with three actual carriers.
Central Oceans hired Onego Shipping & Chartering BV
(“Onego Shipping”) to provide ocean carriage for
the transformers from Rotterdam to New Orleans. Central
Oceans hired Illinois Central Railroad Company
(“Illinois Central”) to transport the
transformers by rail to St. Gabriel. And Central Oceans hired
Berard Transportation, Inc. (“Berard”) to offload
the transformers from the trains and move them by truck to
their final destination. Royal was not a party to any of
delivery in January 2016, an inspection of the transformers
allegedly revealed that they had been damaged while in
transit. Royal had obtained insurance coverage for the
transformers, and the insurers were now obligated to pay
Royal sums under the policies. By virtue of those payments,
the insurance companies-AXA Versicherung AG, HDI-Gerling
Industrie Versicherung AG, Basler Sachversicherung AG, and
Ergo Versicherung AG-became subrogated to the rights of
Royal, the insured. They filed this lawsuit against the
common carrier and the three actual carriers seeking to
recoup their losses.
Court severed and transferred the claims against Central
Oceans to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of
Virginia pursuant to a mandatory forum selection clause in
its contract with Royal. Only the claims against the actual
carriers remain in this Court. Those defendants now move for
summary judgment on the ground that they are not in privity
of contract with Royal and that Royal's contract with
Central Oceans forbids Royal from asserting claims against
the actual carriers hired by Central Oceans to transport the
judgment is proper when, after reviewing the pleadings, the
discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any
affidavits, the court determines there is no genuine dispute
of material fact. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. “[A]
party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion and identifying those portions of [the record]
which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The party seeking summary judgment
need not produce evidence negating the existence of material
fact, but need only point out the absence of evidence
supporting the other party's case. Id.;
Fontenot v. Upjohn Co., 780 F.2d 1190, 1195
(5th Cir. 1986).
the party seeking summary judgment carries its burden
pursuant to Rule 56, the nonmoving party must come forward
with specific facts showing that there is a genuine dispute
of material fact for trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The
showing of a genuine dispute is not satisfied by creating
“some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, by
conclusory allegations, by unsubstantiated assertions, or by
only a scintilla of evidence.” Little v. Liquid Air
Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994)
(citations omitted). Instead, a genuine dispute of material
fact exists when the “evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The party responding to the motion for
summary judgment may not rest upon the pleadings, but must
identify specific facts that establish a genuine dispute.
Id. The nonmoving party's evidence, however,
“is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are
to be drawn in [the nonmoving party's] favor.”
Id. at 255; see also Hunt v. Cromartie, 526
U.S. 541, 552 (1999).
of lading is a legal document which “records that a
carrier has received goods from the party that wishes to ship
them, states the terms of carriage, and serves as evidence of
the contract for carriage.” Norfolk S. Ry. Co. v.
Kirby, 543 U.S. 14, 18-19 (2004). The bill of lading
also serves as a receipt of shipment when the goods are
delivered at the predetermined destination.
shipping cargo internationally, it is common for cargo owners
to make use of what are termed “through” bills of
lading. A through bill of lading is a contract in which cargo
owners arrange for transportation across oceans and to inland
destinations in a single transaction. Kirby, 543
U.S. at 26. The advantage of through bills of lading is
obvious: instead of locating several carriers and negotiating
a separate contract for each leg of the journey, cargo owners
can simply ...