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Plenty Of Blame To Go Around

High levels of condition defects.
Dock to Dock

All that said, the carrier clearly failed to run its reefer unit continuously as required by industry practice and as expressly stated on the bill of lading. Accordingly, we must conclude that the carrier failed to properly maintain conditions within the trailer. The continuous flow of air is needed to “wick away” heat from the product. Although limes and mangos are not high respiration items, they do give off heat from respiration. Had a portable recorder been placed with the product, we would expect to see slightly warmer temperature readings in general and especially when the air flow cycled off.

At the same time, however, it does not appear that this fruit would have arrived without significant defects, or fetched market level prices, even under normal transportation conditions. It must be remembered that this was a short trip with little evidence of warm, let alone extreme, transit temperatures (and no evidence of chilling injury); yet, the USDA inspection shows very high levels of condition defects, suggesting the product was not shipped in suitable shipping condition. Accordingly, in our view, although the carrier may have aggravated the problems with this shipment to some extent, your customer should be looking to the shipper, first and foremost, to recover its losses.

Your questions? Yes, send them in. Legal answers? No, industry knowledgeable answers. If you have questions or would like further information, email


Doug Nelson is vice president of the Special Services department at Blue Book Services. Nelson previously worked as an investigator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and as an attorney specializing in commercial litigation.