reasons for disallowance. After enumerating the items, the letter then states: "The above allowances total $ 2,574.00 which we are offering in full and final settlement of your claim." Defendant's Memo, Exhibit D (emphasis added).
White argues that the October 27 letter is not "final" because the letter concludes with language that indicates it was an offer: "I look forward to hearing further from you after you have had an opportunity to review this offer." White misunderstands the nature of the disallowance and limitations period. Once the carrier indicates the shipper's claim will not be allowed as submitted, subsequent negotiations between the parties will not toll the limitations period. As one court observed, "the purpose for a formal denial of claim is to start the statute of limitations machinery . . . rather than the discouragement of meaningful negotiations between the parties." B.F. Goodrich Tire Co. v. Louisville & Nashville R.R. Co., 439 F. Supp. 363, 365 (S.D.N.Y. 1977). See also Star-Kist Foods v. Chicago, Rock Island and Pac. R.R., 586 F. Supp. 252, 255 (N.D. Ill. 1984) (written inquiries following a disallowance did not vitiate the unequivocal nature of the disallowance). In Star-Kist, the court stressed that neither the carrier's disallowal nor subsequent correspondence suggested partial liability, and observed that the carrier later reiterated its denial of the shipper's claim. Id. at 256. Similarly, none of United's correspondence after October 27, 1986, indicates that it ever wavered from its denial of liability, and subsequent letters repeatedly refer back to the "October 27, 1986" settlement offer. We conclude that the limitations period commenced with the October 27, 1986, letter and expired on October 28, 1988 -- two years and one day after the final notice of disallowal. Count I of plaintiff's complaint is barred because it was filed on May 31, 1990 -- more than a year and a half after the limitations period expired.
In Count II, White purports to allege a state common law claim for bad faith breach of an "insurance contract" -- here, the "Gold Umbrella" liability package.
Defendant argues that Count II is preempted by the Carmack Amendment.
We agree that the Carmack Amendment preempts state law remedies for damages to goods. As the Supreme Court observed, "Almost every detail of the subject is covered so completely that there can be no rational doubt but that Congress intended to take possession of the subject and supersede all state regulation with reference to it." Adams Express Co. v. Croninger, 226 U.S. 491, 505-6, 57 L. Ed. 314, 33 S. Ct. 148 (1913), quoted in Hughes v. United Van Lines, Inc., 829 F.2d 1407, 1413 (7th Cir. 1987), cert. denied, 485 U.S. 913, 99 L. Ed. 2d 248, 108 S. Ct. 1068 (1988).
Plaintiff responds that the statute preempts only actions involving damage to the goods themselves, and reasons that Count II addresses defendant's conduct in processing White's claim. Plaintiff argues that "Congress intended that a carrier's ancillary conduct in connection with the manner in which it treats those claims is to be left to existing state or common law remedies." Plaintiff's Memo at 13. We disagree. Under similar circumstances, our appellate court held that the Carmack Amendment preempted plaintiffs' state and common law theories of recovery. Hughes, 829 F.2d at 1415. The Hughes plaintiffs' common law claims were based on the same "Gold Umbrella Protection-Full Value Guarantee" liability package White purchased, and included similar allegations of negligence, breach of insurance contract, intentional and negligent misrepresentation, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Id. at 1412. We agree with defendant that the Carmack Amendment preempts Count II of plaintiff's complaint, and the limitations period discussed above similarly bars Count II.
We grant defendant's motion for summary judgment and accordingly deny plaintiff's cross-motion for Rule 11 sanctions.