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Siemens Energy Inc. v. CSX Transportation Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 17, 2016

SIEMENS ENERGY, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge

Plaintiff Siemens Energy, Inc. (“Plaintiff” or “Siemens”) has brought this action against Defendant CSX Transportation, Inc. (“Defendant” or “CSXT”) pursuant to the Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act (“Carmack Amendment”), 49 U.S.C. § 11706.[1] Am. Compl., p. 1, ECF No. 10. Plaintiff alleges that two electrical transformers, owned by Siemens, were damaged during interstate carriage by CSXT. Id. at ¶¶ 2-5. Currently pending before this Court is Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint and Alternative Motion to Transfer Venue (ECF No. 15). The parties’ submissions have been reviewed, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the reasons stated herein, Defendant’s Motion to Transfer Venue (ECF No. 15) is GRANTED. Accordingly, this case will be transferred to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. All pending arguments for dismissal of this action will remain pending for disposition in the transferee court.

BACKGROUND

I. Factual History

In ruling on a motion to dismiss, this Court accepts the factual allegations in the complaint as true and construes those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See, e.g., Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999). The facts of this case, construed in the Plaintiff’s favor, are as follows:

On or about August 23, 2012, “two electrical transformers, S/No.: D417578 and D417579, in good order and condition, ” were delivered to Defendant CSX Transportation, Inc. (“CSXT”) at the Port of Baltimore, Maryland for carriage to Gallatin Steel Company (“Gallatin”), a customer of Siemens Energy, Inc. (“Siemens”), in Ghent, Kentucky. Am. Compl. at ¶ 4, ECF No. 10. The carriage of the transformers with CSXT “was arranged by Progressive Rail, Inc. (“Progressive”) and was conducted pursuant to Bill of Lading No. 08232012-JPF-1, which was authorized by [CSXT’s] duly authorized representative.” Id. “[T]ransformer No. D417578 . . . was loaded on railcar No. QTTX No. 131202 and transformer No. D147579 on railcar No. QTTX No. 131203.” Id. at ¶ 5. Siemens was, at all material times, the owner of the two electrical transformers. Id. at ¶ 3.

Both transformers were carried to Ghent, Kentucky, but were delivered in damaged condition “as evidenced from the transformers’ impact recorders indicating that the transformers had been subjected to g-forces greater than the maximum allowed for transportation by rail, thereby causing loss to [Siemens].” Id. at ¶ 5. “[A] preliminary on-site internal inspection revealed that at least transformer No. D147578 was severely damaged, while transformer No. D147579 could not be inspected at that time and was set aside for additional inspections and testing at a later time.” Id.

“Due to the severe nature and extent of the damages to transformer No. D147578, the transformer was returned to Siemens’ manufacturing plant in Dresden, Germany where it was opened, inspected, repaired, and subsequently returned to Gallatin. Transformer No. D147579 remained in the United States and was thoroughly inspected and tested while in storage in Gallatin[‘s] facility.” Id. at ¶ 6. “Siemens incurred substantial costs in transporting, inspecting, repairing, and storing both transformers, ” which it estimates “to be approximately $1, 555, 824.60 plus prejudgment interest and costs of litigation.” Id. at ¶ 7, 13.

II. Procedural History

On April 1, 2015, Progressive filed suit against CSXT in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in connection with the same delivery at issue in this case. See Progressive Rail, Inc. v. CSX Transportation, Inc., No. 3:15-cv-00018 (E.D. Ky. Apr. 1, 2015); Progressive Compl., Def. Ex. B, p. 2-5, ECF No. 15-3. [2]Progressive brought suit under the Carmack Amendment, alleging essentially the same facts as Siemens in this case. Id. CSXT filed an Answer and Affirmative Defenses to Progressive’s Complaint on May 22, 2015. Answer, Def. Ex. B, p. 8-14, ECF No. 15-3. That action remains pending, although the proceedings have been stayed pending resolution of the pending motion in this case. The case has been assigned to Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove. Id. at p. 7.

On April 17, 2015, CSXT was again sued in an action involving the same delivery at issue in this case. Kuehne Nagle, Inc. f/u/b/o Siemens Energy, Inc. v. Rail Retrievers Logistics, LLC, et al., No. 3:15-cv-00023 (E.D. Ky. Apr. 14, 2015). Kuehne Nagle, Inc., the party that allegedly arranged transportation of the transformers prior to their arrival in Baltimore, Maryland, raised several claims including a Carmack Amendment claim. K Compl., Def. Ex. C, ECF No. 15-4. That case was also assigned to Judge Van Tatenhove, but Kuehne Nagle voluntarily dismissed that suit without prejudice on May 27, 2015.

Siemens brought this action against CSXT on April 14, 2015, after Progressive brought its action, but prior to the Kuehne Nagle lawsuit. Pursuant to the Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act (“Carmack Amendment”), 49 U.S.C. § 11706, Siemens claims that the damage to the transformers “was caused by the negligence of CSXT, in failing to properly perform its carrier duties.” Id. at ¶ 8. Siemens contends that, “[p]rior to the commencement of this action, ” it “became the owner of the cargo and the successor in title to the rights and interest of the holder of the bill of lading issued by [CSXT], which incorrectly names Progressive Rail, Inc. [‘Progressive”] as the shipper when Siemens is in effect the owner of the cargo and the rightful party to make this claim.” Therefore, CSXT “is responsible as a bailee to [Siemens] for failure to care for [Siemens’] cargo, which was entrusted to its care and for which it had absolute control and custody.” Id. at ¶ 10. Siemens brings this action “on behalf of and of the interest of all parties who may be or may become interested in the cargo . . . .” Id. at ¶ 12.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

I. Motion to Transfer Venue Under 28 U.S.C. ยง ...


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