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Summary Judgment Avoids Expensive Trial Costs

A freight carrier sued a soft drink distributor claiming unpaid transport costs. The distributor had hired and promptly paid a designated motor carrier to provide services. However, without the distributor’s specific knowledge or consent, its designated vendor had subcontracted work to another motor carrier, and this third party transported hundreds of loads.

Over the course of several years, a routine course of dealing developed. The distributor hired and paid its transport vendor. The selected vendor hired the second company to transport the loads. The chosen vendor then paid the second motor carrier.

Things went smoothly until the chosen vendor went bankrupt. The soft drink distributor had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to its selected vendor. However, the chosen vendor failed to completely pay its subcontractor.

The distributor was sued by the subcontractor for unpaid freight charges. Spencer Fane, representing the distributor, developed an aggressive defense strategy that proved highly effective. Through persistent and comprehensive discovery efforts, Spencer Fane was able to develop an extensive evidentiary record showing the course of dealing among the parties and the softdrinkdistributor’s legal and equitable rights to rely upon that course of dealing.

Spencer Fane filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the second carrier’s claims were foreclosed by the prior course of dealing. The trial court agreed and Spencer Fane’s client was able to avoid an expensive trial.