FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
PUERTO RICO [Hon. Bruce J. McGiverin, U.S. Magistrate Judge]
Roldán-González, with whom Isis Aimée
Roldán-Márquez were on brief, for appellant.
Alberto J. Castañer-Padró, with whom
Castañer Law Offices P.S.C. was on brief, for
Howard, Chief Judge, Torruella and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.
TORRUELLA, Circuit Judge
present dispute arises out of a contract for the shipment of
used tires from Puerto Rico to Vietnam. The shipment accrued
demurrage charges, port storage charges, and related
administrative fees, apparently because it arrived late to
Vietnam. On summary judgment, the district court found that
Best Tire Recycling, Inc. ("Best Tire") was the
shipper, and therefore, pursuant to the bills of lading, was
liable for the charges and fees to the carrier, Mediterranean
Shipping Co. ("Mediterranean"). Best Tire now
contends that the district court erred in holding that there
were no genuine issues of material fact as to whether Best
Tire was the shipper. However, Best Tire was designated as
the shipper on the bills of lading, and we therefore affirm
the findings of the district court.
is an ocean common carrier that transports goods between the
United States and foreign countries. Best Tire is a Puerto
Rico-based corporation that collected and transported scrap
tires, among other things, within Puerto Rico. In 2012, John
Wayne Kwange ("John Wayne"), doing business as
Armstrong Exchange and/or Armstrong International, Inc.
("Armstrong") hired Best Tire to deliver forty
containers of scrap tires to the port of San Juan, Puerto
Rico for $600 a container. Best Tire instructed John Wayne to
contact Mediterranean, the common carrier, to get booking
information and then inform Best Tire of the arrangement.
April 3, 2012, John Wayne emailed Gypsa Carrión, of
Oceanic General Agency, an agent of Mediterranean, and
requested price quotes to ship tires from San Juan, Puerto
Rico to Haiphong, Vietnam. Best Tire was copied on this email
and admits to receiving it. In this email, John Wayne
designated Best Tire as the "shipper" and Phong
Vuong Limited Company as the "consignee." On April
11, Ms. Carrión sent a reply email to John Wayne and
Nydia Caro, Best Tire's administrative assistant,
providing them with "booking numbers for the next 4
sailings" and further notifying them that Mediterranean
was "creating the shipper in their system." In this
email, Ms. Carrión also stated: "[Y]our trucker
may start pulling out the [container] units with . . . just
the [booking] number[s]."
Best Tire received the booking information, it subcontracted
with IPM Transport to bring empty containers from the port of
San Juan to Best Tire's storage facilities in
Rincón, Puerto Rico, and then to transport the
containers, filled with scrap tires, back to
Mediterranean's cargo ship in the port of San Juan.
Between April and May of 2012, all containers were delivered
and Best Tire charged John Wayne $600 per delivered
container. Mediterranean issued bills of lading for each of
the scrap tire shipments and, consistent with John
Wayne's initial email, identified Best Tire as the
Tire admits that it received the bills of lading.
Mediterranean's standard bill of lading provides that,
inter alia, "[e]very Person defined as a
Merchant is jointly and severally liable towards
[Mediterranean] for all of the various undertakings,
responsibilities, and liabilities of the Merchant." A
"Merchant" is defined to "include the
Shipper, Consignee, holder of th[e] Bill of Lading, the
receiver of the Goods and any Person owning, entitled to or
claiming the possession of the Goods or of this Bill of
Lading or anyone acting on behalf of this Person."
"Freight" is defined to "include the freight
and all charges, costs and expenses whatsoever payable to
[Mediterranean] in accordance with the applicable Tariff and
this Bill of Lading, including storage, per diem and
demurrage." Mediterranean's standard bill of lading
also incorporates "[t]he terms and conditions of
[Mediterranean's] applicable Tariff, " which include
information about "demurrage, per diem, storage expenses
and legal fees."
the cargo ultimately arrived at its destination in Vietnam,
the consignee refused to accept delivery, apparently because
the shipment arrived late. As a result of the consignee's
refusal to accept the shipment, Mediterranean had to store
it. In total, this stored cargo incurred demurrage charges
totaling $353, 083.50, port-storage charges totaling $36,
780, and an administrative fee totaling $300. Moreover,
Mediterranean argued "that $69, 889.54 of the cost to
ship the freight from Puerto Rico to Vietnam remained
unpaid." Best Tire received a total of $24, 000 for its
services in this transaction.
district court sitting in admiralty granted
Mediterranean's motion for summary judgment, holding that
Best Tire was a party to the contract of ocean carriage and
as such was liable to Mediterranean for unpaid ocean freight
charges, shipping container demurrage, port storage and
related administrative fees.