Legal issuesTrucking

UPDATED: Amazon asks for new trial in pricing dispute case

This article has been amended to reflect that Amazon only filed an appeal and has not yet been granted a new trial.

A federal judge received a request from Amazon for a new trial in its pricing dispute with less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier, arguing that there were flawed procedures in the first trial.

The judge has not yet issued a ruling on the appeal.

In October, a jury in western Washington federal court awarded Waco-based Central Freight Lines (CFL) a $2.4 million verdict against Amazon Fulfillment Services over a dispute about pricing and contractual terms for hauling the latter’s freight.

Amazon filed an appeal asking the judge in the case to overturn the verdict based on the lack of evidence needed to support it and problems with the jury instructions.

Law 360 reported that Amazon’s attorneys made the request.

At the heart of the initial verdict was the change in pricing terms for hauling larger pallet shipments than had been agreed to in CFL’s tariff schedule.   

Amazon’s attorneys successfully argued that CFL “must establish at trial” it used its spot quote software, per the agreed-to contract modification, to charge Amazon for shipments above a certain pallet count.

But during the trial, CFL did not provide evidence of the underlying data or calculations that the software was used for those quotes. Moreover, the court’s instructions to the jury did not include that CFL was required to use its spot quote software for larger pallet shipments, even though that was Amazon’s main argument in the case.

“Not one of CFL’s witnesses testified from personal knowledge that CFL’s spot quote software program calculated rates for the shipments in question,” Amazon’s attorneys allege in their filing.  

Along with the question over whether CFL’s software correctly calculated the rates, Amazon’s alleged “setoff” of funds that CFL was not and actual contract breach and that jury instructions that the setoff was improper “were tantamount to a directed verdict in CFL’s favor.”

Michael Angell, Bulk and Intermodal Editor

Michael Angell covers maritime, intermodal and related topics for FreightWaves. His interest in transportation stretches back several generations. One great-grandfather was a dray horseman along the New York waterfront and another was a railway engineer in Texas. More recently, Michael has written about the shipping industry for TradeWinds, energy markets for Oil Price Information Service, and general business topics for FactSet Mergerstat and Investor's Business Daily. When he is not stuck in the office, he enjoys tours of ports, terminals, and railyards.


  1. I am unable to find this article that is referenced for Law360. The most recent publication found was the 11/12 article regarding the filing of the motion for a new trial. Can you please provide a link to this article? Thanks

  2. What I would like to know in regards to a statement made in the article titled : ” Jury delivers victory to LTL carrier in pricing dispute with Amazon ” , why did Amazon pay rates that they supposedly didn’t agree to pay ???

    Quote from article titled : “Jury delivers victory to LTL carrier in pricing dispute with Amazon ”

    “In its lawsuit, Central Freight Lines said Amazon began tendering eight-pallet shipments, which did not qualify for the agreed-upon LTL rates due to their size.

    Instead, Central Freight Lines quoted Amazon a spot rate that was 30% higher than the LTL rate, plus a fuel surcharge for the eight-pallet shipments.

    After an oral agreement, Central Freight amended its written contract with Amazon to reflect the new spot rate. While Amazon paid the agreed-upon rate, it “neglected to sign by the addendum,” Central Freight said. 

    By June 2016, Amazon was disputing any contract was in place to bill eight-pallet shipments at the new rate. It subsequently audited Central Freight’s Invoices and demanded that the carrier reimburse Amazon for shipments that did not receive the volume discount over the 2012 through 2016 period. ”

    “After an oral agreement, Central Freight amended its written contract with Amazon to reflect the new spot rate. While Amazon paid the agreed-upon rate, it “neglected to sign by the addendum,” Central Freight said. ”

    Therefore CLEARLY according to the statement above , Amazon paid the “agreed upon rate” . If Amazon didn’t pay then they certainly wouldn’t be asking CFL for reimbursement .

    Why then did Amazon pay CFL a rate that was “supposedly” not previously agreed upon ???

    I believe there was a rate pre-agreement as CFL claims , and since Amazon didn’t sign the addendum , Amazon is backtracking their verbal agreement upon which CFL received payments for services from Amazon which Amazon previously verbally agreed upon .

    The “PROOF” is in the ” rate payments” CFL received from Amazon .

    Another point that doesn’t make sense from my perspective is :


    “An August 2016 letter from Amazon demanded that Central Freight reimburse $2.8 million that Amazon said it was owed for overages on the eight-pallet shipment invoices and for Central Freight not following Amazon’s procedures. 
    Amazon subsequently reduced the demand amount to $1.3 million. But it added that Central Freight would have to reimburse the amount if it was to be awarded any business during its 2017 bid season. ”

    How do you go from demanding a $2,8 Million reimbursement down to reducing it to $1.3 Million ???

    And then how do you justify your “strategy” of tricking them into paying the “reimbursement” you’re demanding by withholding and or subtracting payments due to them for services under a “different” contract without their acceptance ??? This sort of “strategy” is highly unethical .

    Based on the statements reported and information written in the articles , those are my questions .

    In my humble opinion ………..

  3. You might want to check this out :

    “Is Amazon listening? All the things it knows about you ”

    And :

    ” Amazon accused of pressuring drivers to meet deadlines, sometimes causing crashes ”

    Listen carefully at what is being reported at 1 minute 40 seconds . That’s a lot of control on a driver that is deemed to be a “contractor” rather than an employee .

    In my humble opinion ……………….

We are glad you’re enjoying the content

Sign up for a free FreightWaves account today for unlimited access to all of our latest content

By signing in for the first time, I give consent for FreightWaves to send me event updates and news. I can unsubscribe from these emails at any time. For more information please see our Privacy Policy.