RECENT BOL CHANGES AND HOW THEY ARE BEING RECEIVED INDUSTRY-WIDE: PART 2
As previously reported in our August blog post, on July 14, 2016, the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) issued a supplement to the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) to become effective on August 13, 2016. The supplement was to publish a revised Uniform Straight Bill of Lading. These recent changes, approved by the NMFTA, provided an advantage to its carrier members while further protecting their interests, as opposed to those of the shipper.
After the supplement was issued, Transportation & Logistics Council issued three Special Reports and filed a petition with the Surface Transportation Board (“STB”) to suspend and investigate the amendments to the Uniform Straight Bill of Lading (“BOL”). In addition to the Council’s initial petition, the Council also filed supplemental pleadings on September 12th and October 3rd. NASSTRAC, NITL, TIA, as well as a number of other parties joined in to support the Council’s objections to the bill of lading changes.
The petition specifically argues that:
“The reasoning for not requiring the shipper to prove negligence is obvious. When the shipper tenders his goods to the carrier he doesn’t “ride shotgun” with them. He has no way to know what the carrier does with the goods, so it would be virtually impossible for the shipper to prove that the cause of the loss or damage was the carrier’s “negligence”….
Moreover, the addition of a negligence standard runs counter to the strict liability standard implemented by the Carmack Amendment… one of the core principles behind the enactment of the Carmack Amendment was to do away with forcing shippers to prove a carrier was negligent…”
The most prevalent changes to the BOL terms in the update, effective August 13, 2016, include:
• Places the burden of proof for carrier negligence resulting in loss, damage, or delay on the shipper.
• Adds two new conditions under which the carrier is not liable for loss, damage, or delay: “riots or strikes” and “any related causes”
• Gives carriers more flexibility to deliver shipments “in the regular course of its providing transportation services” and not on a particular schedule (unless agreed upon in writing or electronically).
• Updates the deadline for reporting claims-for-loss to a carrier to “not more than nine (9) months from the date of the bill of lading”. Until a product is actually delivered, you won’t know if a claim exists and sometimes that can take up to a week to 10 days for certain appointment deliveries.
Time will only tell how the changes will affect shipper/carrier relationships moving forward, and whether the STB will respond to the council’s pleas of outrage regarding this matter.
We will keep you posted with any developments pertaining to this situation and in the meantime if you would like more information please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-626-1107 x 3 .