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Robert D. Moseley, Jr., Smith Moore Leatherwood, LLP, of Greenville, South Carolina, argued for plaintiff-appellant.
Daniel B. Volk, Trial Attorney, Commercial Litigation Branch, Civil Division, United States Department of Justice, of Washington, DC, argued for defendant-appellee. With him on the brief were Stuart F. Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Jeanne E. Davidson, Director, and Martin F. Hockey, Jr., Assistant Director.
Before PROST, REYNA, and TARANTO, Circuit Judges.
REYNA, Circuit Judge.
Estes Express Lines (" Estes" ) appeals from a final order of the Court of Federal Claims (" Claims Court" ) dismissing Estes's complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Estes Express Lines v. United States, 108 Fed.Cl. 416 (2013). For the reasons below, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.
Estes, a federal motor carrier, seeks to recover from the Government freight charges incurred by Marine Corps Community Services (" MCCS" ). The charges in question correspond to shipments arranged on behalf of MCCS by a freight broker, Salem Logistics (" Salem" ), for deliveries between June 2008 and February 2009. Estes and Salem do not have a written contract, and Estes handled all shipments under its common carrier tariff.
Salem arranged the shipments pursuant to a contract with MCCS (" the Salem-MCCS contract" ). Under this contract, Salem agreed to provide MCCS with certain transportation and freight management services, including coordinating the pick-up, transport and delivery of vendor products to various MCCS or Marine Corps Exchange (" MCX" )  locations around the country. Specifically, upon being contacted by a vendor who received an order from MCCS or MCX, Salem would select a carrier to move the merchandise from the vendor to the MCCS/MCX destination. The contract provided that Salem would pay the carriers directly and then invoice MCCS. Salem further agreed not to represent itself as an agent or representative of MCCS.
Each shipment handled by Estes was identified by a bill of lading, a freight bill, and a delivery receipt. All bills of lading listed a MCCS or MCX destination as the " consignee," and most bills of lading identified the thirdparty vendor as the " shipper." In some instances, goods were moved from a Navy Exchange location to an MCX location, or from one MCX location to another, in which case a government entity was listed as the " shipper." Pursuant to the Salem-MCCS contract, all bills of lading further indicated that " third party freight charges" were to be billed to " Marine Corps Exchange C/O Salem Logistics." The delivery receipts also specified that charges should be billed to the " Marine Corps Exchange." Each delivery receipt was signed by a representative of the MCCS or MCX location to which the goods were delivered.
Following delivery, Estes invoiced " MCX, care of Salem" for freight charges. Although MCCS paid Salem for some of the shipments, it appears that Salem never
remitted payment to Estes. After it became aware that Salem was failing to pay Estes and other carriers, MCCS began paying carriers directly, but only for ...