SAN FRANCISCO – An Antioch drilling company is suing a Washington shipping company and an Illinois shipment contractor over damage to a large piece of drilling equipment during a truck fire during interstate transit in 2016.
Drill Tech Drilling & Shoring, a general engineering contracting company, sued Sunpac, a freight shipping and trucking company based in Sunnyside, Washington, and RR Donnelley Logistics Services Worldwide (DLS), which is chartered in Delaware and operates out of Bolingbrook, Illinois.
In its seven-page complaint filed June 12 in the U.S. District Court for California's Northern District, Drill Tech alleges negligent loss of property under the Carmack Amendment and negligent selection of carrier.
The Carmack Amendment, which provides shippers remedies for loss or damage of goods during interstate transit, preempts all state and common law claims. Drill Tech is demanding a jury trial.
U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler
The complaint stems from Drill Tech's contract with DLS to select a carrier to ship a large rotary drilling machine called BG-40-V-1957 from its yard in Antioch about 500 miles to a job site in Lowell, Oregon in November 2016, according to the complaint. DLS selected Sunpac and provided Drill Tech with a bill of lading.
"At the time of selection, Sunpac had over twice the national average of out-of-service vehicles and roadway accidents," the complaint said. "Drill Tech was not made aware of this."
During the transport, the suit states one of Sunpac's trucks caught fire and severely damaged the BG-40-V-1957, which had a market value of almost $315,000.
"After the fire, the cargo had no market value whatsoever," the complaint said.
Drill Tech alleged it also sustained operating losses of more than $77,000.
Before filing its complaint, Drill Tech demanded from Sunpac and its insurance company more than $907,000, "what it reasonably believed was the replacement cost for the lower mast portion," the complaint said.
Sunpac countered its polity limit was $100,000, and as of the complaint's filing, "Drill Tech has not been compensated for any portion of its claim by either Sunpac or DLS," the complaint said.
The case was assigned to San Francisco-based U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler the same day it was filed and on June 15, Drill Tech filed its consent that the matter be heard before Beeler. Any appeal from a judgment in the case would be taken directly to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, according to that document.
The complaint was filed on Drill Tech's behalf by Jonathan Werlang, an attorney in the company's legal department, under case No. 3:18-cv-03477-LB