When is it not a Truck Driver’s Fault?

When shipments are made by motor transport and arrive at their destination damaged, it’s the truck driver that usually gets the blame.  Somehow, he failed to tie the load down properly or cover the load with tarps to protect from flying debris that might be encountered on the road.  Regardless of how the damage occurred, once the load has left the shipper, it’s the driver’s responsibility.  Because of the agreement that transportation companies have with shippers, that is FOB origin or FOB factory, the trucking companies assume all liability while the load is in their possession.  So no matter what the driver claims about how any damage occurred, it’s still the driver’s responsibility.  Once in awhile, a situation arises where the damage to a load can be shown to have occurred before the transportation company assumed possession.  Such is the case where a shipment of electrical switchgear arrived damaged at a jobsite and the driver had no idea how the damage occurred.  The damage was limited to some broken switches and paint marks on the housing panels – minor damage compared to the cost of the equipment.  The photos below illustrate the damage.  During the investigation, it was determined that the switchgear was part of a redundant power substation.  Because of the design requirement for redundancy, two other loads for identical switchgear were ordered and shipped from the same shipping point.  Altogether, all three loads were loaded at the same shipping point and transported by three different transportation companies.  All three loads arrived damaged at the jobsite.  All three loads arrived with similar damage including the same color paint marks.  Although the evidence was circumstantial, it appeared that the equipment was loaded haphazardly by the forklift operator driving a yellow forklift.    

Missing switch and damaged switch plate
Yellow paint found on panel handle

Defective GE Dishwasher

Recently, we were assigned to a case where water damage had occurred inside a residential kitchen.  In this case, the dishwasher was placed in operation and allowed to run while the homeowner was away.  Upon returning, the homeowner discovered that their kitchen and part of their family room had been flooded with water.  After recovering the dishwasher and conducting an examination, it was discovered that the gasket between the drain and tub housing had failed.  The failure resulted in massive water leakage.  The photographs shown below illustrate how water was pouring out of the wash tub housing.  It should be noted that the dishwasher was approximately four years old when the incident occurred.  Dishwashers typically do not experience water leakage at the drain and gaskets last for the lifetime of the appliance.  In this case, the manufacturer used three rotating locks to hold the drain assembly in place while pressing down on the gasket to maintain a seal between the drain and housing.  This particular problem applies to General Electric dishwasher model # GDF520PSJ2SS.  It is recommended that owners with this dishwasher should not leave this appliance in operation with no one in attendance but, instead carefully monitor the operation.  At the first sign of water leakage, turn the dishwasher off.  Doing so will deenergize the water control valve and stop the flow of water into the tub.  However, water will continue to flow out of the area of leakage until the tub is completely drained.  It will become necessary to remove the dishwasher from its position, usually beneath a countertop, in order to dry the floor.  At this point, the homeowner will have a decision to make: have the dishwasher repaired or replace the appliance.  Remember that if the appliance is repaired, because of the design, the appliance will most likely leak again.               

Water observed streaming down from drain area

Close up view of water leaking from drain area

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