Overdrive Magazine

April 2019

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10 | Overdrive | April 2019 Visit Senior Editor Todd Dills' CHANNEL 19 BLOG at OverdriveOnline.com/channel19 Write him at tdills@randallreilly.com Twitter: @channel19todd Regular readers will recall Marta Vidaurreta's 2018 story about broker Bennett International Group's withholding payment on a load aer a cargo claim on a flatbed haul for the broker. at claim, aer many months, was denied by the company insuring Vidaurreta, a small-fleet owner, when damages clearly were shown to not have arisen during transit. Such brokerages' practice is enabled by claims "offset" – or "setoff " – clauses in their contracts. ose who engage in it when carrier negligence is clearly disproven show their willingness to sacrifice a carrier's business to please shipper customers or just line their own pockets instead of working through disputes like reasonable people. e good news is that Vidaurreta finally had received all payments due her for loads hauled with the broker last year. "My insurer took months, many months, to deny that claim," she wrote in February. Finally, Bennett paid for the load. Vidaurreta believes use of the offset clause to withhold payment is "too abusive for us, the carriers. But if a carrier wants, or needs, a specific load" with a broker, it's too easy to sign the contract, "never thinking that [offset] clause will be a boomerang" in the event of any claim at all. It reminds me of Ralph Ellison's fictional "Invisible Man" and that book's narrator's invocation of the boomerang. "Beware of those who speak of the spiral of history; they are preparing a boomerang. Keep a steel helmet handy." In the case of claims offset clauses, the appropriate headgear might be careful reading of the contract, use of a red pen and some intestinal fortitude. A responsive insurance company armed with good data on the load can help, too. Read more about this and another offset case explored in the Feb. 20 and 26 posts on the Channel 19 blog. WHEN A BROKER'S CLAIMS OFFSET COMES BACK TO BITE Five months into his tenure hauling flatbed as an owner-operator leased to New Line Transport of Orlando, Florida, Ricardo Flores well under- stood the risks associated with load securement. While Flores had plenty of trucking experience with other materials and trailer types during his 20 years as an owner-operator in Puerto Rico and Florida, the potential for injury unnerved him. Particularly problematic was the high placement of strap corner pro- tectors. While he'd seen drivers using a tool constructed from a PVC tube with a slotted T at one end, it was in- secure, oen breaking. As his father, Epifanio Flores, tells it, Ricardo came to him with a better idea. e result, Epifanio Flores says, is the Gavase Tool. It's named aer his grandchildren, Gabriela, Valeria and Sebastian. During the process of designing and patenting the tool, the prototype appropriate for installing strap corner protectors morphed into a multifunc- tional tool, says Epifanio, who has engineering and trucking experience. At the instigation of his son, now leased to Landstar, he designed it to further "handle chains, plastic or metal protectors, plastic or wood V boards," and more. e Flores recommend a heavy-du- ty industrial-grade 12-foot extension pole, readily available in most hard- ware and truck parts stores, to which the tool screws on with standard threading. Catch illustrations of the uses via the Feb. 19 post on the blog. Experience inspires securement tool Small-fleet owner Marta Vidaurreta, using the analogy of a returning boomerang, warns of brokers' contract clauses giving them the right to offset their shipper customers' claims by withholding load payment from carriers. Courtesy of Gavase Tool Inc. Positioning flatbed chains in out-of-reach places without dangerous climbing is just one use for the new Gavase Tool ($37.95 retail via gavasetool.com), designed in part by Landstar-leased owner-opera- tor Ricardo Flores and his father, Epifanio.

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