Nova Scotia

Ice-encrusted lobster subject of court dispute

A Nova Scotia court has weighed in on another lobster dispute. This one isn’t over catching lobster, but shipping them. 

Trucking company owes more than 11K after some lobsters were dead on arrival

A trucking company owes more than $11,000 after some of the live lobster it transported ended up frozen. (Submitted by Allan Stoodley)

A Nova Scotia court has weighed in on another lobster dispute. This one isn't over catching lobster, but shipping them. 

The dispute pits two transportation companies against one another over a cargo of crustaceans that arrived, in the words of the adjudicator Raffi A. Balmanoukian "bereft of life."

"These Homarus americanus who had prematurely joined the choir invisible had to be destroyed or sold 'as is' for salvage value," he said.

The choice of words in his decision are familiar to anyone who has watched Monty Python's Dead Parrot Sketch.

Longstanding relationship

The dispute is between Flying Fresh Air Freight and Connors Transfer. The two companies have a longstanding business relationship shipping lobster and other products.

At this time last year, FFAF contracted Connors to truck about 4,700 kilograms of lobster to Quebec and Ontario for eventual shipment to France, Belgium and South Korea.

According to evidence at this small claims court hearing, live lobster should be shipped at temperatures between 2-4 C. But that didn't happen in this case.

"On arrival, all shipments save one had varying degrees of damage due to low shipping temperatures, in some cases well below that which was appropriate," Balmanoukian wrote in his decision. 

"It was in evidence before me that many lobsters were dead and indeed some are encrusted in ice. Select sub-freezing crate temperature readings were in evidence before me."

Limitation of liability

The question for the adjudicator was how much Connors owed FFAF.

Connors had FFAF sign a limitation of liability agreement years ago, capping the value of lost lobster at just $2 per pound.

Balmanoukian found that the agreement applied in this case, so while the losses totalled $21,703.86, Connors is only on the hook for $11,175.80.

In his decision, the adjudicator noted that the only trucking story with more Atlantic Canadian flavour is the "Great Moosehead Beer Heist of 2004," in which more than 50,000 cans of beer destined for the Mexican market disappeared from a truck in New Brunswick. A New Brunswick truck driver was subsequently convicted in that case.