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Carroll v Eagle Tranz, Inc.

2021 WL 5985140

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Northern Division,
at Knoxville.
Rainell CARROLL, Plaintiff,
v.
EAGLE TRANZ, INC., and Varinder Pal Singh, Defendants.
No. 3:20-CV-366-TRM-DCP
|
Filed 12/16/2021
Attorneys and Law Firms
Carson A. Royal, Harriss & Hartman Law Firm, P.C., Rossville, GA, Patrick A. Cruise, The Hamilton Firm, Chattanooga, TN, for Plaintiff.
Cynthia D. Hall, William J. Rieder, Spears, Moore, Rebman & Williams P.C., Chattanooga, TN, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Debra C. Poplin, United States Magistrate Judge
*1 This case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636, the Rules of this Court, and Standing Order 13-02.

Now before the Court is Plaintiff’s Motion for Sanctions [Doc. 47] and Defendants’ Response to Order to Show Cause [Doc. 52]. The Court has considered the parties’ positions in their filings and the procedural history of this case. Accordingly, for the reasons explained below, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART [Doc. 47] Plaintiff’s Motion.

I. BACKGROUND
The Complaint in this case stems from a vehicular accident. Specifically, the Complaint alleges that Plaintiff backed her vehicle into a parking spot at the Love’s Travel Shop in Dandridge, Tennessee. [Doc. 1 at ¶ 10]. At that time, Defendant Singh was operating a 2018 Kenworth Tractor-Trailer, and he stopped within the fuel island for fuel. [Id. at ¶ 11]. The Complaint states that Defendant Singh did not set the air brakes, and his tractor-trailer rolled backwards striking Plaintiff’s vehicle. [Id. at ¶ 12]. The Complaint alleges that, at the time of the accident, Defendant Singh was driving in the course and scope of his employment with Defendant Eagle Tranz, Inc. (“Eagle Tranz”). [Id. at ¶ 14]. Plaintiff alleges negligence and negligence per se and requests damages for her injuries. [Id. at 5]. In their Answer, Defendants admit that Defendant Singh did not set the air brakes in his tractor-trailer and that it rolled backwards and came into contact with Plaintiff’s vehicle. [Doc. 7 at ¶ 12].

On March 31, 2021, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel discovery [Doc. 34], stating that she served Defendants with her First Set of Interrogatories and First Requests for Production of Documents (“Discovery Requests”) on December 31, 2020, and despite multiple extensions, Defendants had not responded. Defendants did not respond to Plaintiff’s motion to compel discovery, and therefore, the Court granted in part Plaintiff’s motion to compel and directed Defendants to respond to the Discovery Requests within fourteen (14) days (i.e., May 4, 2021) [Doc. 35].1 The Court warned Defendants that failure to respond may lead to sanctions, including default judgment.

On May 26, 2021, the parties filed a joint motion [Doc. 36], requesting that the deadlines contained in the Scheduling Order be extended because Plaintiff was still seeking treatment for her injuries and Defendants were under a Court Order to respond to discovery but were not able to respond. The Court extended the deadlines [Doc. 39] and also ordered the parties to mediation. [Doc. 38]. The parties participated in mediation on October 21, 2021, but were unsuccessful in resolving the case.

Plaintiff filed the instant Motion on October 22, 2021. Plaintiff states that Defendants have not responded to the Discovery Requests. In addition, Plaintiff states that Defendant Singh failed to attend his properly noticed deposition. Plaintiff states that Defendants’ conduct has hampered her ability to pursue her claims. The Motion seeks (1) an order deeming Plaintiff’s allegations in the Complaint admitted, (2) default judgment against Defendants, (3) an order prohibiting Defendants from opposing Plaintiff’s claims for liability and damages, (4) an order prohibiting Defendants from raising any defenses at trial, (5) an order prohibiting Defendants from introducing any evidence or presenting any witnesses at trial, and (6) an order allowing Plaintiff’s counsel to submit an affidavit in support of an award of attorney’s fees.

*2 Defendants did not respond to Plaintiff’s Motion, and therefore, on December 1, 2021, the Court entered an Order [Doc. 50] directing Defendants to show cause as to why Plaintiff’s Motion should not be granted. Defendants responded [Doc. 52] to the Court’s Order, requesting that Plaintiff’s Motion be denied. With respect to Defendant Singh, defense counsel explains that they have lost all contact with him, despite numerous prior and continued attempts.

Defendant Eagle Tranz acknowledges that its discovery responses are unreasonably late. Defendant Eagle Tranz states that it produced responsive documents last week and that a number of circumstances have contributed to the delay in production as follows: (1) Defendant Eagle Tranz has experienced staff turnover, (2) the person responsible for compiling and maintaining documents at the time of the accident and at the time the Discovery Requests were served is no longer employed with Defendant Eagle Tranz, (3) Defendant Eagle Tranz has moved its corporate headquarters from Fresno, California, to Phoenix, Arizona, (4) Defendant Eagle Tranz changed its name to “Eagle Trans” with a corresponding change to respective e-mail addresses and corporate telephone numbers, which delayed communication with its Tennessee counsel for an extended period of time, and (5) Defendant Eagle Tranz learned that an outside, third-party consultant group, Transportation Safety Consultants, Inc., possesses many of the documents related to Defendant Singh’s pre-employment records.

In addition, Eagle Tranz states that it is in the process of bringing counsel from Phoenix, Arizona, on board to assist in the document production and the deposition of the corporate representative, which Plaintiff has agreed to take on January 28, 2022. The Response states that Defendants have admitted liability and that the remaining issues in this case are the extent and amount of Plaintiff’s damages. Further, the Response states that while Defendant Singh did not attend his deposition, he has admitted fault for the accident and has acknowledged he failed to set his air brake while he stopped for gas, which allowed his truck to roll into the parked vehicle occupied by Plaintiff. Defendants request that Plaintiff’s Motion be denied.

II. ANALYSIS
Accordingly, the Court has considered the filings summarized above and the procedural history of this case, and for the reasons more fully explained below, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Plaintiff’s Motion for Sanctions [Doc. 47].

As mentioned above, Plaintiff moves for various relief because Defendants did not comply with the Court’s Order [Doc. 35] to respond to the Discovery Requests by May 4, 2021, and Defendant Singh did not attend his deposition that was noticed for June 24, 2021. See [Doc. 40]. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(b)(2) provides a list of sanctions when parties do not comply with a discovery order. Specifically, Rule 37(b)(2) states that the court may issue “further just orders,” which may include the following:
(i) directing that the matters embraced in the order or other designated facts be taken as established for purposes of the action, as the prevailing party claims;
(ii) prohibiting the disobedient party from supporting or opposing designated claims or defenses, or from introducing designated matters in evidence;
(iii) striking pleadings in whole or in part;
(iv) staying further proceedings until the order is obeyed;
(v) dismissing the action or proceeding in whole or in part;
*3 (vi) rendering a default judgment against the disobedient party; or
(vii) treating as contempt of court the failure to obey any order except an order to submit to a physical or mental examination.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(b)(2)(A)(i)-(vii). The Rule further provides:
(C) Payment of Expenses. Instead of or in addition to the orders above, the court must order the disobedient party, the attorney advising that party, or both to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, caused by the failure, unless the failure was substantially justified or other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(b)(2)(C). With respect to failing to appear for a deposition, Rule 37(d) provides that the Court may order the sanctions listed in Rule 36(b)(2)(A)(i)-(vi).

As an initial matter, Plaintiff simply lists various sanctions, requesting that they all be entered, but she does not sufficiently explain why all the sanctions are appropriate under Rule 37. The Court notes that if all the requested sanctions were granted, such would essentially result in a default judgment against Defendants (which has also been requested). Thus, the Court will analyze the Motion as a request for a default judgment against Defendants. The Sixth Circuit has directed courts to consider four factors when determining whether dismissal or default is an appropriate sanction for failure to comply with the discovery obligations or other court order as follows:
(1) whether the party’s failure is due to willfulness, bad faith, or fault; (2) whether the adversary was prejudiced by the dismissed party’s conduct; (3) whether the dismissed party was warned that failure to cooperate could lead to dismissal; and (4) whether less drastic sanctions were imposed or considered before dismissal was ordered.
Mager v. Wisconsin Cent. Ltd., 924 F.3d 831, 837 (6th Cir. 2019) (quoting United States v. Reyes, 307 F.3d 451, 458 (6th Cir. 2002)) (other quotations omitted).

The Court has strongly considered recommending a default judgment for Defendants’ failure to comply with the Court’s Order [Doc. 35] and Defendant Singh’s failure to attend his deposition.2 The Court has also considered recommending a default judgment given that Defendants failed to respond to Plaintiff’s Motion and only filed their Response after the Court directed them to do so. The Court, however, has weighed the above factors and finds that they slightly weigh in favor of denying Plaintiff’s request for dispositive relief.

*4 With respect to the first factor, “To show that a party’s failure to comply was motivated by bad faith, willfulness, or fault, the conduct ‘must display either an intent to thwart judicial proceedings or a reckless disregard for the effect of [his] conduct on those proceedings.’ ” Mager, 942 F.3d at 837 (quoting Carpenter v. City of Flint, 723 F.3d 700, 705 (6th Cir. 2013)). Given Defendant Eagle Tranz’s explanation in its Response as to why it has not produced responses to the Discovery Requests, the Court cannot find that its actions, or lack thereof, were motivated to thwart the judicial proceedings or show a reckless disregard thereof. The Court furthers observes that Defendant Eagle Tranz has somewhat participated in this case as the parties recently mediated on October 21, 2021.

With respect to the second factor (i.e., prejudice to Plaintiff), the Court finds that it slightly weighs in favor of granting Plaintiff’s Motion. The Court finds that Defendants’ failure to participate in discovery has generally affected this case causing some prejudice. See [Doc. 48]. The Court notes, however, that Plaintiff has not sufficiently explained how Defendants’ conduct has hampered her ability to pursue her claims given that Defendants have admitted liability and the remaining issues are the extent of Plaintiff’s injuries and whether they are related to the accident. It seems that the most important discovery would be directed to Plaintiff. In addition, the Court also observes that Plaintiff filed the instant Motion six (6) months after Defendants’ deadline to respond to the Discovery Requests and after the parties attended the mediation. Thus, the Court finds this factor slightly weighs in favor of granting Plaintiff’s Motion.

With respect to the third factor, the Court previously warned Defendants that the failure to comply with the Court’s Order [Doc. 35] may lead to sanctions, including default judgment. Thus, this factor weighs in favor of granting the Motion. Finally, the Court must also consider whether less drastic sanctions were previously imposed or considered. The Court has not imposed less drastic sanctions, and the Court is encouraged that less drastic sanctions (as explained below) will correct Defendant Eagle Tranz’s deficiencies.

Accordingly, the Court has weighed the above factors, and the Court finds that they weigh in favor of denying Plaintiff’s request for dispositive relief. Moving forward, the Court expects Defendants to comply with all orders from the Court and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court ADMONISHES Defendants that future discovery abuses of similar magnitude will lead to additional sanctions, including entering a default judgment against them. Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(b)(2). Defendants should construe this Memorandum and Order as their final warning.

Further, and as explained above, Rule 37 states that the Court must order the disobedient party to pay reasonable expenses, unless the failure was substantially justified. The Court does not find that Defendants’ failures were substantially justified, and the Court further finds that Plaintiff is entitled to her reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, incurred with respect to her Motion for Sanctions [Doc. 47] and the related filings.

III. CONCLUSION
Accordingly, for the reasons explained above, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Plaintiff’s Motion for Sanctions. [Doc. 47]. Plaintiff SHALL provide Defendants, within fourteen (14) days of this Memorandum and Order, with her reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, that were incurred with respect to her Motion for Sanctions and the related filings. If the parties cannot agree on the reasonableness of Plaintiff’s expenses, after a meaningful meet and confer, they may bring the matter to the Court’s attention.

*5 IT IS SO ORDERED.

All Citations
Slip Copy, 2021 WL 5985140

Footnotes

1
The Court declined to award sanctions because Plaintiff did not explain the sanctions she sought. [Doc. 35].

2
The Court has also considered whether it is appropriate to recommend a default judgment against only Defendant Singh given that he failed to comply with the Court’s Order [Doc. 35], he did not attend his deposition, and his counsel cannot contact him despite numerous attempts to do so. It appears to the Court that Defendant Singh has lost interest in defending this action. Plaintiff’s Motion, however, requests dispositive sanctions against both Defendants. Even though Defendants do not dispute liability, the parties have not briefed how a default judgment against Defendant Singh could affect Defendant Eagle Tranz. See generally Kimberly v. Coastline Coal Corp., 857 F.2d 1474 (Table), 1988 WL 93305, at *3 (6th Cir. 1988) (explaining that entering a final decree against one defendant on the merits while the other defendants remained in the case could result in inconsistent verdicts) (citing Frow v. De La Vega, 82 U.S. 552 (1872)). In absence of any briefing, the Court declines to recommend a default judgment against only Defendant Singh.

Shields v. United Van Lines

2021 WL 5832984

United States District Court, D. Connecticut.
Sheree SHIELDS
v.
UNITED VAN LINES
Civ. No. 3:21CV01287(SALM)
|
Signed 12/09/2021
Attorneys and Law Firms
Hide W. Inga, John Q. Gale, LLC, Hartford, CT, for Sheree Shields.
Christopher E. H. Sanetti, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, LLP, Hartford, CT, for United Van Lines, LLC.

RULING ON MOTION TO REMAND TO SUPERIOR COURT
SARAH A. L. MERRIAM, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
*1 Plaintiff Sheree Shields (“plaintiff”) has filed a motion seeking to remand this matter to the Superior Court of Connecticut. [Doc. #11]. Defendant United Van Lines (“defendant”) has filed a memorandum in opposition to plaintiff’s motion [Doc. #18], to which plaintiff has filed a reply [Doc. #19]. For the reasons stated below, plaintiff’s Motion to Remand to Superior Court [Doc. #11] is DENIED.

I. Background
On or about May 21, 2020, plaintiff hired defendant “to bind, load, and deliver [her] household goods from West Hartford, Connecticut to Potomac, Maryland.” Doc. #1-1 at 1. Plaintiff alleges that on August 3, 2020, when defendant “packed and loaded” some items onto its truck, defendant “failed to load any of the Plaintiff’s Tiffany and Co. diamond jewelry and other precious metals.” Id. On August 5, 2021, plaintiff reported the “theft” to defendant, as well as to the West Hartford Police Department. Doc. #1-1 at 1. As of the filing of the Complaint, plaintiff alleges that “[d]efendant has not paid any reimbursement money to the Plaintiff[.]” Id.

On August 24, 2021, plaintiff filed suit in the Connecticut Superior Court against defendant alleging state law claims for: (1) Statutory Theft; (2) Conversion; (3) violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (“CUTPA”); (4) Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress; and (5) Negligent Hiring, Training, and Supervision. See generally Doc. #1-1. On September 27, 2021, defendant removed plaintiff’s action to this Court “because the Carmack Amendment to the ICC Termination Act of 1995, 49 U.S.C. § 14706, governs Plaintiff’s claims for loss or damage to an interstate shipment of household goods.” Doc. #1 at 1. Defendant therefore asserts that “[r]emoval is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1337(a), 1441 and 1445(b)[.]” Id.

II. Applicable Law, Generally
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441,
any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant … to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending.
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).

Defendant, as the removing party, bears the burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction. See Curcio v. Hartford Fin. Servs. Grp., 469 F. Supp. 2d 18, 21 (D. Conn. 2007). “In the absence of diversity of citizenship, the district court has original jurisdiction only if the case arises under federal law, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.” Id. (citation and quotation marks omitted). “Section 1331 federal question jurisdiction depends on whether a federal claim is contained in the plaintiff’s well-pleaded complaint; this rule is the basic principle marking the boundaries of the federal question jurisdiction of the federal district courts.” London v. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., 472 F. Supp. 2d 194, 199 (D. Conn. 2007) (citation and quotation marks omitted). “The well-pleaded complaint rule[ ] … provides that federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on the face of the plaintiff’s properly pleaded complaint.” Curcio, 469 F. Supp. 2d at 21 (citation and quotation marks omitted); see also Counter v. United Van Lines, Inc., 935 F. Supp. 505, 507 (D. Vt. 1996) (“Under the well-pleaded complaint rule, federal question jurisdiction exists only if the face of the plaintiff’s complaint reveals an issue of federal law.”).1

*2 “[T]he presence of a federal question in a defensive argument does not overcome the paramount policies embodied in the well-pleaded complaint rule, and removal based on a federal defense is normally impermissible.” London, 472 F. Supp. 2d at 199 (citation and quotation marks omitted). An exception to this, however, is the “complete preemption doctrine[.]” Whitehurst v. 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers E., 928 F.3d 201, 206 (2d Cir. 2019). “Complete preemption occurs when the pre-emptive force of a statute is so extraordinary that it converts an ordinary state common-law complaint into one stating a federal claim for purposes of the well-pleaded complaint rule.” Id. (citation, quotation marks, and footnote omitted).

“Thus, while federal preemption and removal jurisdiction are conceptually separate issues, the defendant must be able to properly recharacterize plaintiff’s state law action as an action under [the Carmack Amendment] for federal court subject matter jurisdiction under the complete preemption doctrine.” London, 472 F. Supp. 2d at 199. Accordingly, the issue before the Court is whether plaintiff’s state law claims are completely preempted by the Carmack Amendment, and therefore subject to this Court’s jurisdiction.

III. Discussion
Plaintiff contends that “[r]emoval is improper because the Carmack Amendment is not applicable given the facts raised in the … complaint,” and that, therefore, the Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff’s claims. Doc. #11 at 1. Plaintiff asserts, in pertinent part, that her claims are not preempted by the Carmack Amendment because: (1) the claims alleged in the Complaint “do not fall within the ambit of federal regulation[;]” and (2) the jewelry at issue “was not on the bill of lading contract, nor did it ever leave the State of Connecticut.” Doc. #11 at 3.2

Defendant responds that removal is proper on several grounds, and that the Carmack Amendment completely preempts plaintiff’s state law claims. See generally Doc. #18. In reply, plaintiff reiterates that the Carmack Amendment is not applicable because the jewelry “was not listed on the bill of lading[ ]” and because the jewelry was stolen, “ostensibly never left the state of Connecticut.” Doc. #19 at 5.

“The Carmack Amendment … addresses the subject of carrier liability for goods lost or damaged during shipment, and most importantly provides shippers with the statutory right to recover for the actual loss or injury to their property caused by any of the carriers involved in the shipment.” Cleveland v. Beltman N. Am. Co., 30 F.3d 373, 377 (2d Cir. 1994) (emphases removed). In enacting the Amendment, “Congress intended to provide interstate carriers with reasonable certainty and uniformity in assessing their risks and predicting their potential liability[ ]” by (1) “establishing a single uniform regime for recovery,” and (2) “preempting the shipper’s state and common law claims against a carrier for loss or damage to goods during shipment.” Project Hope v. M/V IBN SINA, 250 F.3d 67, 73 n.6 (2d Cir. 2001) (citations and quotation marks omitted). Thus, “[t]he Carmack Amendment “preempts all state law on the issue of interstate carrier liability.” ” Aviva Trucking Special Lines v. Ashe, 400 F. Supp. 3d 76, 79 (S.D.N.Y. 2019); Materazzi v. Atlas Van Lines, Inc., 180 F. Supp. 2d 408, 410 (E.D.N.Y. 2001) (“The Second Circuit has previously held that the Carmack Amendment fully occupies its particular field and thus completely preempts state common law.”). “In fact, the preemptive effect of the Carmack Amendment on state law has been recognized for nearly a century.” Materazzi, 180 F. Supp. 2d at 410.

*3 Each of plaintiff’s state law claims arises from the loss of her jewelry during the course of an interstate move. Accordingly, plaintiff’s claims are completely preempted by the Carmack Amendment. Plaintiff’s arguments to the contrary are unpersuasive.

First, plaintiff asserts that the Carmack Amendment is not applicable because the jewelry at issue was not listed on the bill of lading. See Doc. #11 at 2; Doc. #19 at 2, 5. Plaintiff provides no authority to support her argument that failure to list items on a bill of lading exempts claims related to those items from the ambit of the Carmack Amendment. Indeed, given that “[f]ailure to issue a receipt or bill of lading does not affect the liability of a carrier[,]” 49 U.S.C. § 14706(a)(1), then logically, the failure to list items on a bill of lading similarly would not affect the liability of a carrier, or otherwise exempt a transaction from the coverage of the Carmack Amendment.

Second, plaintiff asserts that her claims are not subject to the Carmack Amendment because “the subject items were stolen, and ostensibly never left the state of Connecticut.” Doc. #19 at 5. Thus, plaintiff asserts “[b]ecause the jewelry never traveled over state lines, the plaintiffs loss it is not subject to the protections of Carmack or to federal courts based on the federal courts subject matter jurisdictional power to hear cases regarding interstate commerce[.]” Doc. #19 at 5 (sic); see also Doc. #11 at 2. Defendant asserts that plaintiff’s argument is improper and without any legal basis, but nevertheless contends that “[t]he Carmack Amendment is ‘comprehensive enough to embrace responsibility for all losses resulting from any failure to discharge a carrier’s duty as to any part of the agreement transportation.’ ” Doc. #18 at 7 n.3 (quoting Georgia, F. & A. Ry. Co. v. Blish Milling Co., 241 U.S. 190, 196 (1916)).

Plaintiff again fails to support her argument with citation to any relevant authority. Plaintiff alleges in the Complaint that she “hired” defendant “to bind, load, and deliver [her] household goods” from Connecticut to Maryland, and although defendant “packed and loaded” some of plaintiff’s household goods onto its truck, it “failed to load any of” the plaintiff’s subject jewelry. Doc. #1-1 at 1. Plaintiff fails to acknowledge the broad definition of “transportation” under the Carmack Amendment, which includes, inter alia: “services related to th[e movement of property], including arranging for, receipt, delivery, … handling, [and] packing[.]” 49 U.S.C. § 13102(23)(b). Accordingly, because plaintiff alleges that the theft occurred during the loading and packing portion of her interstate move, whether the jewelry ever left Connecticut is irrelevant to the question of preemption under the Carmack Amendment. See, e.g., Brody v. Liffey Van Lines, Inc., No. 13CV05719(CM), 2014 WL 2450807, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. May 29, 2014) (“Carmack applies both to claims of damage or loss while goods are in interstate transit, but also to related services, including arranging for, receiving, delivering, storing, handling, packing and unpacking such goods.”).

Finally, plaintiff asserts that her state law claims are not completely preempted. Plaintiff contends: “Deceptive trade practices, such as statutory theft, as plead, do not fall within the ambit of … the Carmack Amendment.” Doc. #11 at 3. Defendant responds that removal “is proper because the allegations in Plaintiff’s Complaint solely arise from the interstate transportation of Plaintiff’s household goods and personal belongings.” Doc. #18 at 6.

*4 A review of plaintiff’s Complaint, although couched in state law, reveals that each of her claims ultimately arises from the loss of her jewelry during the course of an interstate move. “[N]umerous district courts have held that the Carmack Amendments completely preempt state law claims for damages and losses incurred in interstate shipping of goods.” Sorrentino v. Allied Van Lines, Inc., No. 3:01CV01449(AHN), 2002 WL 32107610, at *2 (D. Conn. Mar. 22, 2002). For example, in her statutory theft and conversion claims, plaintiff claims that she “has been damaged and suffers from the loss of her property” and “has not been compensated for her valuables or had them returned to her possession.” Doc. #1-1 at 2, 3. The loss of plaintiff’s property is central to her claims for statutory theft and conversion, which are therefore preempted by the Carmack Amendment. See Hammock v. Moving State to State, LLC, No. 18CV05628(RPK)(ST), 2021 WL 4398086, at *4 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 26, 2021) (“[P]laintiff’s state-law claims [including conversion] against any carrier relating to the loss or damage of his property are preempted.”).

Plaintiff’s CUTPA claim also directly arises from the loss of plaintiff’s jewelry during the course of an interstate move. The Complaint alleges: “The Defendant engaged in deceptive conduct, attempting to conceal the theft of the Plaintiff’s personal property by omitting the valuable jewelry from the Bill of Lading…. There is a clear and ascertainable loss suffered by the Plaintiff that has been caused by the Defendant’s deceptive and unfair conduct.” Doc. #1-1 at 3. Because plaintiff’s CUTPA damages flow directly from the loss of her personal property during the course of an interstate move, this claim is also preempted by the Carmack Amendment. See, e.g., Design X Mfg., Inc. v. ABF Freight Sys., Inc., 584 F. Supp. 2d 464, 467–68 (D. Conn. 2008) (granting summary judgment for defendant on plaintiff’s CUTPA and common law negligence claims because such claims are preempted by the Carmack Amendment); Taylor v. Mayflower Transit, Inc., 22 F. Supp. 2d 509, 511 (W.D.N.C. 1998) (“But for this interstate move, Plaintiffs would have no alleged claim for unfair and deceptive trade practices…. [T]he unfair and deceptive trade practices claim does not state a separate cause of action divisible from the interstate shipment of their household goods. Accordingly, that claim is preempted by the Carmack Amendment[.]”); Ensign Yachts, Inc. v. Arrigoni, No. 3:09CV00209(VLB), 2010 WL 918107, at *5 (D. Conn. Mar. 11, 2010) (dismissing CUTPA claim based on preemption by the Carmack Amendment); Hammock, 2021 WL 4398086, at *4, supra.

Plaintiff’s claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress also directly arises from the loss of plaintiff’s goods during the course of an interstate move. Plaintiff alleges that certain stolen items “are irreplaceable” and their “permanent deprivation has caused the Plaintiff distress[.]” Doc. #1-1 at 4. Again, this claim, like the others, seeks damages flowing from plaintiff’s agreement with defendant to ship her goods from Connecticut to Maryland. Accordingly, it is also preempted by the Carmack Amendment. See, e.g., White v. Mayflower Transit, L.L.C., 543 F.3d 581, 586 (9th Cir. 2008) (“[T]he Carmack Amendment preempts a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress to the extent that it arises from the same conduct as the claims for delay, loss or damage to shipped property.”); Glass v. Crimmins Transfer Co., 299 F. Supp. 2d 878, 887 (C.D. Ill. 2004) (Carmack Amendment preempted state law claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress where “the emotional distress … arose directly from the carrier’s mishandling of the property” and was not “a ‘separate’ harm.”).

Last, plaintiff asserts a claim for negligent hiring, training, and supervision. See Doc. #1-1 at 4-5. Again, this claim arises directly from the alleged loss of plaintiff’s jewelry during an interstate move. Plaintiff alleges, in pertinent part: “The Defendant failed to properly hire agents that would perform the services paid for by the Plaintiff.” Id. at 4. Accordingly, this claim is also preempted by the Carmack Amendment. See Olympian Worldwide Moving & Storage Inc. v. Showalter, No. 13CV00245(PHX)(NVW), 2013 WL 3875299, at *3 (D. Ariz. July 26, 2013) (Plaintiff’s negligent hiring claim was preempted by the Carmack Amendment because “it only arises because of the same underlying conduct: failure to deliver. Allowing this claim to stand would counter the uniformity of liability for common carrriers.” (sic)); Groupo Floristar, S. de R.L. de C.V. v. FFE Transportation Serv., Inc., No. 4:06CV02098(DH), 2007 WL 9751917, at *3 (S.D. Tex. Apr. 19, 2007) (state and common law claims preempted by Carmack Amendment, including claim for negligent hiring).

*5 Accordingly, plaintiff’s state law claims are completely preempted by the Carmack Amendment, and removal to this Court was proper. Therefore, plaintiff’s Motion to Remand to Superior Court [Doc. #11] is DENIED. See Sorrentino, 2002 WL 32107610, at *2 (“Here, although Sorrentino has crafted his claims under state law, he alleges that his loss occurred during the interstate shipment of his goods. Accordingly, the court concludes that his claims are completely preempted by the Carmack Amendments and are thus removable to this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1337 and 1331.”); Consol. Rail Corp. v. Primary Indus. Corp., 868 F. Supp. 566, 574 (S.D.N.Y. 1994) (common law contract and tort claims preempted where the claims “seek damages flowing from shipment agreements with Conrail,” because “[t]he Carmack Amendment governs the parties’ rights and liabilities under this situation[ ]”).

IV. Conclusion
Thus, for the reasons stated, plaintiff’s Motion to Remand to Superior Court [Doc. #11] is DENIED.

Defendant has filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff’s Complaint on several grounds, including that her state law claims are preempted by the Carmack Amendment. See Doc. #9 at 15. In light of this Ruling, the Court will permit plaintiff an opportunity to file an amended complaint asserting a claim or claims pursuant to the Carmack Amendment. Any amended complaint must be filed on or before January 4, 2022, and will completely supersede the original Complaint. If plaintiff does not file an amended complaint by the deadline, the Court will promptly address defendant’s motion to dismiss.

It is so ordered at New Haven, Connecticut, this 9th day of December, 2021.

All Citations
Slip Copy, 2021 WL 5832984

Footnotes

1
“The artful-pleading doctrine, a corollary to the well-pleaded-complaint rule, rests on the principle that a plaintiff may not defeat federal subject-matter jurisdiction by artfully pleading his complaint as if it arises under state law where the plaintiff’s suit is, in essence, based on federal law.” Sullivan v. American Airlines, Inc., 424 F.3d 267, 271 (2d Cir. 2005) (citation and quotation marks omitted).

2
Plaintiff also asserts what is essentially a public policy argument that “Connecticut has a strong interest in protecting its residents against crimes, and violations of its torts and common laws.” Doc. #11 at 4. The Court is not persuaded that public policy grounds would provide an exception to complete preemption.

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