Who Bears the Risk of Proper Trucking Packing? The 3rd Circuit Weighs In.

In Spence v. ESAB Group, Spence, a trucker, was injured when his tractor trailer overturned after he had picked up a load of cargo that had been packed by ESAB. He commenced a lawsuit against ESAB based upon ESAB’s negligent packing.

On appeal, the Third Circuit was faced with the question of whether Pennsylvania law “imposes upon a shipper a duty of care to safely secure the goods the shipper has loaded in a third-party carrier’s tractor trailer.” ESAB argued that 49 CFR §392.9(a) and 49 CFR 393.100 preempted state law and placed sole and exclusive responsibility for adequately securing a load on the trucker and not the shipper. Spence, in opposition, claimed that the federal statutes/codes were not meant to totally preempt state law and thus Spence could proceed with his negligence claim against ESAB.

The Third Circuit agreed with Spence — http://www.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/094363p.pdf The Third Circuit ruled that “those who undertake the task of loading, securing and hauling cargo on tractor-trailers have a duty to exercise due care to protect property and persons from the risk of harm.”

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Bob Cosgrove at rcosgrove@wcmlaw.com.