(This is the third of three parts of my article as published in the April 2018 edition of The Transportation Lawyer. The footnote references were modified to accommodate the formatting parameters of this blog.)
Recent cases. At issue in a recent case was whether lettuce had become “manufactured” and thus no longer exempt. The court cited six different commodity descriptions contained in Administrative Ruling 119 that arguably applied to the lettuce in question, and found that the lettuce in question had not been transformed, had not lost its original identity, and had not become a new and different article. The court concluded by holding that the lettuce remained an exempt commodity. Fn. 13.
Fn. 13. Service First Logistics, Inc. v. J. Rodriguez Trucking, Inc., 2017 WL 1365410 (E.D. Mich. 2017). (The court went on to hold that Carmack did not apply and that therefore there was no subject matter jurisdiction. Note: There are cases holding that federal common law does at times confer federal court jurisdiction, again, a topic beyond the scope of this article.)
(This is the second of three parts of my article as published in the April 2018 edition of The Transportation Lawyer. The footnote references were modified to accommodate the formatting parameters of this blog.)
Current statute. The statute in its current form, 49 USC §13506 (a)(6), provides, in part, that transportation by motor vehicle of the following commodities is exempt:
(A) ordinary livestock;
(B) agricultural or horticultural commodities (other than manufactured products thereof);
(C) commodities listed as exempt in the Commodity List incorporated in ruling numbered 107, March 19, 1958, Bureau of Motor Carriers, Interstate Commerce Commission, other than frozen fruits, frozen berries, frozen vegetables, cocoa beans, coffee beans, tea, bananas, or hemp . . . (it continues on) (Emphasis added.)
Note that subparagraph (C) starts out by stating what commodities are exempt but then abruptly changes gears - “other than” - and proceeds to specify a litany of commodities that heretofore were mostly, if not completely, exempt commodities and changes them to nonexempt commodities. The “other than” language is seemingly casual, kind of like “by the way”.
Subparagraphs D and E further exempt the transportation of certain fish, livestock, poultry feed, agricultural seeds and plants.
(This is the first of three parts of my article as published in the April 2018 edition of The Transportation Lawyer. The footnote references were modified to conform to the formatting parameters of this blog.)
The first gate. Way out west, here in Oregon, much of our outbound freight involves the transportation of exempt commodities, so the initial evaluation of the case involves the determination as to whether the transportation at issue is exempt or nonexempt. Fn. 1. The main purpose of this article is to take a look at the world of exempt and nonexempt commodities, primarily agricultural. We want the first gate we pass through to be the correct gate, lest we end up in the wrong corral.
Fn. 1. An analysis of applicable law and jurisdictional issues pertaining to the transportation of exempt commodities is outside the scope of this article, other than to note that the Carmack Amendment, 49 U.S.C. §14706, does not apply to the transportation of exempt commodities, and thus does not provide federal court jurisdiction for the transportation of exempt commodities.