Still other cases have not ventured into federal common law. Instead
the courts analyzed the issues in terms of express jurisdictional
grants, such as diversity of citizenship, federal statutes, or
admiralty. See e.g. Hartford Fire, 230 F.3d at 554-55; Capitol
Converting, Equip.,. Inc., 965 F.2d at 392-93; Whaling v. Atlas Van
Lines, Inc., 919 F. Supp. 168, 170 (E.D.Pa. 1996); New York Marine &
Gen. Ins. Co. v. S/S "MING PROSPERITY," 920 F. Supp. 416, 421 (S.D.N.Y.
1996); Marine Office of American Corp. v. NYK Lines, 638 F. Supp. 393,
398 (N.D.Ill. 1985).
As Indemnity implies, the Carmack Amendment is the closest federal
statute to covering Indemnity's loss, as it governs inland ground
transit. The Carmack Amendment has two primary goals, the first of which
is "`to relieve shippers of the burden of searching out a particular
negligent carrier from among the often numerous carriers handling an
interstate shipment of goods.'" Pizzo v. Bekin Van Lines, 258 F.3d 629,
634 (7th Cir. 2001) (quoting Reider v. Thompson, 339 U.S. 113, 119
(1950)). The Carmack Amendment's second goal is to provide uniform
standards of liability for carriers. See Gordon v. United Van Lines,
130 F.3d 282, 286 (7th Cir. 1997); Hughes, 829 F.2d at 1412-15. In
promoting these twin goals, federal courts have held that the Carmack
Amendment generally pre-empts both state and federal common law claims
that would otherwise fall within its parameters. See Gordon, 130 F.3d at
286; Hughes, 829 F.2d at 1412-15; Cleveland, 30 F.3d at 377-81. At the
same time, the Carmack Amendment does not pre-empt all common law claims
for injuries that are different in kind from cargo damage. See e.g.
Gordon, 130 F.3d at 287-89 (permitting a state common law claim for
intentional infliction of emotional distress arising out of the
interstate movement of household goods).
Neither goal of the Carmack Amendment requires the court to create a
federal common law remedy against an ocean carrier for cargo damage
occurring during inland carriage under a through bill of lading. First, a
shipper's remedies will not be diminished. The through bill of
lading/contract creates the claim against the ocean carrier. The shipper
will be able to proceed against the party it contracted with, and will
not be forced to go through the laborious process of discovering the
carrier that is actually at fault for the loss. Compare e.g. Pizzo, 258
F.3d at 634.
Second, uniformity may be an issue whether the claim is decided under
state or federal common law. The court recognizes that applying state law
to interstate carriage cases may lead to some non-uniformity. But,
creating a federal common law remedy will not necessarily ensure
uniformity. Writing for the Illinois Supreme Court, Justice Stephen
Douglass eloquently wrote about the development of common law:
"The common law is a beautiful system; containing the
wisdom and experience of ages. Like the people it
ruled and protected, it was simple and crude in its
infancy, and became enlarged, improved, and polished,
as the nation advanced in civilization, virtue, and
intelligence. Adapting itself to the condition and
circumstances of the people, and relying upon them for
its administration, it necessarily improved as the
condition of the people was elevated."
Penny v. Little, 4 Ill. 301, 304 (Ill. 1841). By its very nature, common
law whether state or federal, develops over time through judicial
analysis and interpretation. There is no guarantee that different federal
judges will agree as to what federal common law should be. See e.g.