Is this a transportation claim?

| DRC

Q. We are having a friendly discussion with our strawberry customer about a load which arrived in Toronto, ON with marginal problems.   We both agreed the berries were sold FOB Good Delivery, and we further agreed the berries would not have more than 1% decay. The berries arrived at the destination pulping warm with 2% decay, but within the DRC Good Arrival Guidelines published on your website. We agree the berries did not meet our agreement and this is a transportation claim based on the warm temps.  The carrier has taken the position that while temperatures were a bit warm, the product made good arrival and he will not accept any claim. What is DRC’s position on this matter?

A.Jaime Bustamante. DRC’s Rules and Regulations are the default rules when the contract between buyers and sellers is silent regarding some of the terms and conditions. In this case, there was an agreement between the parties to modify the strawberry tolerances, specifically the decay part, from 3% total decay to 1% decay. Therefore, there is no question the product failed to meet contract terms upon arrival. In addition, it appears all the parties, including the carrier, agree there is a breach of contract due to the product being subject to warmer than desirable temperatures during transit. Technically, for a receiver to make a successful claim against the shipper, the receiver needs to prove that transit time and temperatures were satisfactory. It is possible that the warm temperatures during transit contributed to the deterioration of the berries, and thus made it fail to meet contract terms. Therefore, because transit temperatures were not satisfactory, this would not be a shipper’s claim.

The carrier’s argument that the product met DRC Good Arrival Guidelines is valid only when the tolerances indicated in the buy and sell contract are not modified. If the product had met the 1% decay tolerance, the carrier would not be at fault because the product would have met the buyer’s and seller’s modified Good Arrival terms even when exposed to warmer than desired temperatures.