“A freight forwarder is an entity that collects several small shipments of cargo from various shippers, charges each of them a rate for transport from shipping point to destination, and then profits by consolidates the cargos to combine costs. A freight forwarder is both the receiving and delivering carrier. When a freight forwarder provides service and uses a motor carrier providing transportation subject to jurisdiction under subchapter I of chapter 135 to receive property from a consignor, the motor carrier may execute the bill of lading or shipping receipt for the freight forwarder with its consent. With the consent of the freight forwarder, a motor carrier may deliver property for a freight forwarder on the freight forwarder’s bill of lading, freight bill, or shipping receipt to the consignee named in it, and receipt for the property may be made on the freight forwarder’s delivery receipt.”  Accu-Spec Electronic Services, Inc. v. Central Transport Intern., 391 F. Supp. 2d 367, 370 (W.D. Pa. 2005).

The term ‘freight forwarder’ means a person holding itself out to the general public (other than as a pipeline, rail, motor, or water carrier) to provide transportation of property for compensation and in the ordinary course of its business– (A) assembles and consolidates, or provides for assembling and consolidating, shipments and performs or provides for break-bulk and distribution operations of the shipments; (B) assumes responsibility for the transportation from the place of receipt to the place of destination; and (C) uses for any part of the transportation a carrier subject to jurisdiction under this subtitle.” 49 U.S.C. § 13102(8).

“[When] the shipment had been entrusted to a [freight] forwarder who contracted to deliver the goods to the consignee at rates set by itself, the forwarder [is] subjected to common carrier liability for loss or damage whether it or an underlying carrier had been at fault.  The fact that the forwarder did not own the carriers whose services it utilized was held to be immaterial. Its undertaking was to deliver the shipment safely at the destination. Common carrier liability was the penalty for failure of fulfillment in that undertaking.”  Chicago, Milwaukee, St. P. & P.R. Co. v. Acme Fast Freight, 336 U.S. 465 (1949).

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