Shipper fires back at NVO in dispute
A Korean-based clothing manufacturer with offices in Compton, Calif., has fired a return volley against carriers in a dispute before the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission over a hijacked shipment in Guatemala.
Greenwest Activewear Inc. has filed a complaint with the FMC against KEI Logix, Gardena, Calif.-based non-vessel-operating common carrier, and the steamship line Great White Fleet Ltd., alleging they violated the Shipping Act of 1984 by failing to establish, observe and enforce just and reasonable practices in connection with its shipments of fabric to Guatemala.
Greenwest, described in the MacRae’s Bluebook industrial directory as a maker of knit shirts and T-shirts as well as women’s outerwear, is demanding the two firms pay a claim of $152,152.90 for loss of cargo plus attorneys fees, or that freight bills be offset.
The complaint comes after KEI filed a complaint against Greenwest in June seeking nearly $110,000 in unpaid shipping costs.
Greenwest asserts it booked a shipment of fabric in August 2006 with KEI from Port Hueneme, Calif., to Villanueva, Guatemala. KEI Logix and Great White issued separate bills of lading, and Great White issued its bill of lading depicting KEI Logix as the shipper.
Greenwest said the cargo was stolen while in transit by an inland carrier in Guatemala booked by Great White.
In September 2006, Greenwest said it filed its claim of $152,152.90 for the stolen cargo with KEI Logix, which then presented the claim to Great White for disposition. Greenwest said Great White wrongfully denied the claim by evoking force majeure pursuant to an inland bill of lading that Greenwest believes was never produced.
The clothing maker asserts Great White failed to prove that the goods were released in Guatemala with the customary escort and security practices required of all carriers for that particular area.
Greenwest alleges that it negotiated the disposition of its claim directly with KEI Logix and continued to do business with the company. In May 2007, it contends KEI Logix not only breached the agreement reached by the parties for the disposition of the claim, but also refused to deliver three containers in transit unless Greenwest immediately paid the full amount of its outstanding invoices. Greenwest alleges that KEI Logix did this to recoup the money that it owed to Greenwest in their agreement.
Accordingly, to mitigate its prospective damages attributable to KEI Logix’s breach, Greenwest asserts that it had no alternative but to tender three checks totaling $101,019.08 for the release of its containers, then to place a stop-payment order on them.
However, in its complaint filed with the FMC in June, KEI contends that Greenwest violated the shipping act by inducing it to relinquish the cargo and lose its possessory maritime lien when it purportedly made payment of freight by postdated checks, knowing that it would stop payment on such checks once KEI released the cargo.
KEI also asserts in the complaint that Greenwest “knowingly and willfully, by means of unjust or unfair device, obtained ocean transportation for property at less than the rates or charges that Complainant (KEI) would otherwise apply.”
Greenwest claims that it offered to reissue the checks and to pay $2,500 in attorneys' fees, but KEI Logix declined the offer.
Greenwest requests that the FMC require KEI and Great White to pay reparations of $152,152.90 for the stolen cargo plus attorneys' fees, and to mitigate damages relative to freight charges.
Greenwest is asking that any hearings be conducted in either Washington, D.C. at the FMC or in Los Angeles.