United Van Lines LLC v. Hajjar
ORDER entered: Uniteds motion to dismiss, (Docket Entry No. 20), is granted. Mr. Hajjar's state-law contract and fraud claims, as well as his state-law claim for attorney's fees, are dismissed with prejudice because they are preempted by the Carmack Amendment. Mr. Hajjar's Carmack Amendment claim and request for attorney's fees under 49 U.S.C. § 11711 may proceed. (Signed by Chief Judge Lee H Rosenthal) Parties notified.(leddins, 4)
United States District Court
Southern District of Texas
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
UNITED VAN LINES LLC,
April 10, 2017
David J. Bradley, Clerk
§ CIVIL ACTION NO. H-16-03276
ORDER DISMISSING STATE-LAW CLAIMS
United Van Lines, a moving company, sued Fred Hajjar, alleging that it had moved Mr.
Hajjar’s furniture and other household goods across state lines and that Mr. Hajjar refused to pay
the contract rate. (Docket Entry No. 1). Mr. Hajjar filed a counterclaim asserting a variety of Texas
state-law grounds. He alleges that United damaged many of his household goods. (Docket Entry
No. 5). At the initial conference, the court ordered United to amend its complaint to clearly set out
the basis for federal jurisdiction over this suit. United did so and directed the court to authority
supporting federal jurisdiction.1 (Docket Entry No. 16). The court granted United’s motion to
dismiss Mr. Hajjar’s state-law counterclaims at the initial conference, without prejudice and with
leave to amend, because the state-law claims were completely preempted by the Carmack
Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act, codified at 49 U.S.C. § 14706. The court instructed
Mr. Hajjar to file an amended counterclaim setting out his Carmack Amendment claim. Mr. Hajjar
filed an amended answer and counterclaim that went beyond the Carmack Amendment cause of
action. (Docket Entry No. 17).
At the initial conference, Mr. Hajjar conceded that the Carmack Amendment governed his
See Thurston Motor Lines, Inc. v. Jordan K. Rand, Ltd., 460 U.S. 533 (1983).
claims. He concedes that the Carmack Amendment governs his claims in his amended counterclaim.
(Docket Entry No. 17 at ¶ 32). Nonetheless, Mr. Hajjar’s counterclaim asserts state-law contract
and fraud claims and demands attorney’s fees under Texas law. These claims are preempted.
The Fifth Circuit has held that the Carmack Amendment provides “the exclusive cause of
action for loss or damages to goods arising from the interstate transportation of those goods by a
common carrier.” Hoskins v. Bekins Van Lines, 343 F.3d 769, 778 (5th Cir. 2003) (emphasis added).
The statute bars state-law claims for loss or damage to property shipped in interstate commerce.
Applying this rule, the circuit has held that state-law actions including “1) the tort of outrage, 2)
intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, 3) breach of contract, 4) breach of implied
warranty, 5) breach of express warranty, 6) violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act
sections 17.46 and 17.50, 7) slander, 8) misrepresentation, 9) fraud, 10) negligence and gross
negligence, and 11) violation of the common carrier’s statutory duties as a common carrier under
state law” are preempted. Id. at 777 (citing Moffit v. Bekins Van Lines Co., 6 F.3d 305, 306 (5th Cir.
United’s motion to dismiss, (Docket Entry No. 20), is granted. Mr. Hajjar’s state-law
contract and fraud claims, as well as his state-law claim for attorney’s fees, are dismissed with
prejudice because they are preempted by the Carmack Amendment. Mr. Hajjar’s Carmack
Amendment claim and request for attorney’s fees under 49 U.S.C. § 11711 may proceed.
SIGNED on April 10, 2017, at Houston, Texas.
Lee H. Rosenthal
Chief United States District Judge
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