Failure to Identify Full Value of Goods Fatal to Damages Claim

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On April 21, 2010, Judge Eileen Bransten of the Commercial Division issued a decision granting summary judgment in favor of defendant Brinks Global Services U.S.A. Inc. (“Brinks”) in a breach of contract and negligence action brought by plaintiff Maxine Company, Inc. (“Maxine”). See Maxine Co. Inc. v. Brinks Global Services U.S.A., Inc., Index No. 602233/05, 2010 NY Slip Op. 50821 (Sup Ct, NY County, April 21, 2010). Maxine is a high-end wholesale and retail jeweler that hired Brinks, a security service, to pick-up, transport and deliver 157 items of fine jewelry from New York City to a department store in Virginia. Although the full retail value of the jewelry was alleged by Maxine to be in excess of $6 million, for reasons that are unclear, Maxine declared the value of the jewelry at only $2 million and did not identify the jewelry as fragile.

The jewelry was shipped pursuant to an airbill (the “Airbill”) which contained provisions limiting Brinks’ liability with regard to loss or damage to Maxine’s property. The Airbill states that “Brink’s will pay to [Maxine] the actual monetary value of the Property which is lost or damaged (to the extent of such damage) on the date of loss, up to the value declared for carriage, subject to the terms and limitations contained in this Contract.” However, the Airbill further provides that, “[n]otwithstanding the foregoing, should [Maxine] fail to identify a fragile item and pay additional charges if required by Brink’s, Brink’s liability shall be limited to loss only, and not for damage.”

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