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United Parcel Service Co. v. DNJ Logistic Group, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division

September 18, 2019

UNITED PARCEL SERVICE CO.; and UPS WORLDWIDE FORWARDING, INC. PLAINTIFFS
v.
DNJ LOGISTIC GROUP, INC. DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Greg N. Stivers, Chief Judge

         This matter is before the Court upon Plaintiffs United Parcel Service Co. and UPS Worldwide Forwarding, Inc.’s (collectively “UPS”) proof of damages following the Court’s entry of default judgment in favor of UPS against Defendant DNJ Logistic Group, Inc. (“DNJ”). As directed by the Court, UPS has submitted proof of its damages, and DNJ has not filed any response. (Pl.’s Mem., DN 90). For the reasons that follow, the Court awards UPS $7, 778, 676 in damages plus pre- and postjudgment interest. The Court also finds the awarding of costs appropriate upon submission of UPS’s bill of costs, but denies UPS’s request for attorneys’ fees.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Court borrows from the Magistrate Judge’s Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Recommendation (“R&R”). UPS brought this action against DNJ alleging breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment. (R&R 1, DN 88). UPS and DNJ entered into a Small Package Cargo Handling Services Agreement (“Agreement”) in 2010. (R&R 1-2). Pursuant to the Agreement, DNJ, a provider of freight forwarding services, was contracted to move small package cargo for UPS along certain international routes that UPS did not routinely fly. (R&R 2). The Agreement provided that for services performed, “DNJ would charge a specified rate per kilogram for particular routes . . . and UPS would “forward payments to [DNJ] no later than thirty (30) days after receipt of a [DNJ] invoice.” DNJ provided services under the Agreement from September 2010 until DNJ terminated the Agreement on July 22, 2016. In June 2016, just before DNJ terminated the Agreement, UPS discovered that it was being overbilled by DNJ. The Agreement essentially provided that “DNJ would invoice [UPS] for the actual weight of the packages [UPS] tendered to DNJ, multiplied by the agreed-upon rate per kilogram for the lane segment at issue.” At DNJ CEO Ralph Nabavi’s direction, however, DNJ used inflated package weights to compute the amounts provided in DNJ’s invoices, which caused UPS to pay DNJ more than what UPS owed under the Agreement.

         UPS confronted DNJ and demanded remuneration. DNJ denied UPS’s allegations, started returning packages, and refused to further perform its services. On July 22, 2016, in accordance with the Agreement, DNJ served UPS with a notice of termination. Thirty days later, the Agreement was terminated. The following month, UPS initiated this suit. (R&R 3).

         In lieu of answering the Complaint, DNJ moved to dismiss the lawsuit premised on UPS’s failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. While the Court dismissed some claims, UPS’s breach of contract and unjust enrichment claims against DNJ survived. (Mem. Op. & Order 20, DN 23).

         Following the Court’s order, DNJ filed an Answer and Counterclaim against UPS. (Answer & Countercl., DN 24). During the course of discovery, there were extensive delays caused by DNJ, which resulted in UPS moving for sanctions. Upon review of the Magistrate Judge’s extensive analysis, this Court found the recommended sanction, default judgment against DNJ, appropriate and entered judgment accordingly. (Order 1-2, DN 89). The Court delayed its damages determination until UPS submitted proof of damages, giving DNJ an opportunity to respond to that proof, as well. (Order 2). At this time, UPS has submitted its proof and DNJ has failed to respond.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. The Court awards UPS $7, 778, 676 in damages.

         “Federal courts sitting in diversity apply state substantive law and federal procedural law.” Gasperini v. Ctr. for Humanities, Inc., 518 U.S. 415, 416 (1996). When state substantive law governs a claim for relief, that state’s law and decisions guide the allowable damages. Id. at 437 (citations omitted). The Agreement provides for Kentucky law to govern any dispute between the parties. (Pl.’s Compl. Ex. 1, ¶ 11.1, DN 1-2). Although the Agreement was amended in 2015 and provided for Florida law to govern any dispute arising between the parties, the parties have used Kentucky law to guide their pleadings throughout this dispute. (Pl.’s Compl. Ex. 1, at 22; Def.’s Mot. Dismiss 7, DN 12-1; Pl.’s Resp. Def.’s Mot. Dismiss 8, DN 15). As such, the Court will apply Kentucky law to evaluate UPS’s $7, 778, 676 damages request.

         Although the Court has granted default judgment in favor of UPS, UPS agrees that it must still prove damages because “in an action for unliquidated damages, a defaulting party admits liability but not the amount of damages.” Howard v. Fountain, 749 S.W.2d 690, 693 (Ky. App. 1988) (citations omitted). Kentucky law also governs UPS’s burden of proof in its damages request because “‘[t]he burden of proof’ is a ‘“substantive” aspect of a claim.’” Medtronic, Inc. v. Mirowski Family Ventures, LLC, 571 U.S. 191, 199 (2014) (citations omitted). Under Kentucky law, “[d]amages are not recoverable for loss beyond an amount that the evidence permits to be established with reasonable certainty.” Pauline’s Chicken Villa, Inc. v. KFC Corp., 701 S.W.2d 399, 401 (Ky. 1985) (quoting Restatements (Second) of Contracts, § 352 (1981)).

         UPS supports its $7, 778, 676 damages claim with expert opinions and supporting documentation. UPS’s damages expert, David Bones (“Bones”), “is a Certified Valuation Analyst®, and has been assisting clients investigate, analyze, and resolve their complex litigation disputes for over 16 years.” (Bones Decl. Attachment A, at 1, DN 91).

         Although DNJ serviced UPS at three different airports, Bones calculated damages corresponding only to the services DNJ provided to UPS at Miami International Airport and only for packages shipped to five locations internationally. (Bones Decl. ¶ 10, DN 91). In coming to his total, Bones “reviewed more than 300 invoices submitted by DNJ to UPS for freight forwarding services provided at [Miami International Airport] pursuant to the Agreement from September 15, 2010 to July 5, 2016[.]” (Bones Decl. ¶ 11). Bones selected the first invoice for each month from September 2010 to July 2016 for a total of 69 sampled invoices. (Bones Decl. ¶ 13). According to Bones, the sampled invoices represented $11.4 million of the $54.1 million invoiced from DNJ to UPS. (Bones Decl. ¶ ...


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