Moving Grain: Effect of Large Verdict Awards on Trucking Industry

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    ATRI Releases Report on the Effect of Large Verdict Awards on the Trucking Industry

    The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released a comprehensive study tracking large verdict awards against the trucking industry and the awards’ effects on safety and insurance. Titled Understanding the Impact of Nuclear Verdicts on the Trucking Industry, the report took its data partly from ATRI’s new trucking litigation database containing detailed information on 600 cases from 2006 to 2019.

    The researchers found large verdicts against trucking fleets increased substantially over this period, both in number and in size of awards. In the first 5 years of data, there were 26 cases over $1 million, versus 300 cases of that size in last 5 years of data.

    The research also shows, from 2010 to 2018, verdict awards grew 51.7 percent annually as standard inflation grew 1.7 percent and healthcare costs grew 2.9 percent. The researchers conducted a qualitative analysis based on surveys and interviews with defense and plaintiff attorneys, as well as insurance and motor carrier experts.

    The study provides recommendations for modifying pre-trial preparations, litigation strategies, and mediation approaches.

    FMCSA Temporarily Waives Requirements for Pre-Employment Testing for Controlled Substances

    On June 5, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) granted a 3-month waiver for certain pre-employment testing conditions for drivers recently furloughed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Per current regulations, drivers must undergo preemployment testing for controlled substances and have a verified negative test result before performing safety-sensitive functions.

    Ordinarily, there is an exception to this pre-employment testing. The exception applies for drivers who have been in a random controlled substances testing program within the previous 30 days and were either (1) tested for controlled substances within the past 6 months or (2) enrolled in the program for the previous 12 months.

    The waiver extends the exception period from 30 days to 90 days. FMCSA reserves the right to revoke the waiver in instances where a driver is involved in an accident or an employer fails to comply with the terms.

    FMC Provides Guidance To Address Supply-Chain Challenges at San Pedro Bay

    The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has issued a four-part guidance to address supply-chain challenges at the ports of San Pedro Bay, CA. One part of the guidance recommends that truckers “should be directed to return empty containers to the terminal where they were picked up, allowing [truckers] to make dual moves and reduce the number of chassis required.”

    Grain News on AgFax

    FMC also suggested terminals allow appointment-free returns during slow periods, such as nighttime, while noting that some terminals are already following these practices. Other recommendations are notices of blank sailings, timelines for receiving export cargo, and creation of an advisory board among carriers, ports, and marine terminal operators.

    The recommendations are the result of Fact Finding 29 discussions, in which the FMC is using a regional approach to alleviate freight challenges that have arisen because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Snapshots by Sector

    Export Sales

    For the week ending June 18, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 22.9 million metric tons (mmt). This represented a 2-percent decrease in outstanding sales from the same time last year.

    Net corn export sales were 0.462 mmt, up 29 percent from the past week. Net soybean export sales were 0.602 mmt, up 12 percent from the previous week. Net wheat export sales were 0.519 mmt, up 3 percent from the previous week.


    U.S. Class I railroads originated 21,437 grain carloads during the week ending June 20. This was unchanged from the previous week, 6 percent less than last year, and 6 percent lower than the 3-year average.

    Average July shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $29 above tariff for the week ending June 25. This was $91 more than last week and $124 more than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.


    For the week ending June 27, barge grain movements totaled 868,840 tons. This was 20 percent less than the previous week and 17 percent more than the same period last year.

    For the week ending June 27, 567 grain barges moved down river—134 fewer barges than the previous week. There were 629 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 3 percent less than the previous week.


    For the week ending June 25, 30 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the U.S. Gulf—43 percent more than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting June 26), 40 vessels were expected to be loaded—11 percent fewer than the same period last year.

    As of June 25, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $39.25. This was 4 percent more than the previous week. The rate from the Pacific Northwest to Japan was $20.50 per mt, 3 percent more than the previous week.


    For the week ending June 29, the U.S. average diesel fuel price increased 0.5 cents from the previous week to $2.43 per gallon, 61.2 cents below the same week last year.

    Full report.

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