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B.C. tribunal orders payout for lost liquor shipment

SunFarm Products Ltd. claimed it shipped 16 cases of liquor to a Canadian Alliance Terminals Inc. warehouse. It sought $3,871 in damages when 13 cases allegedly couldn't be found.
B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal has ordered a warehouse company to pay $866 after 13 of 16 cases of alcohol allegedly disappeared.

B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal has ordered a warehouse company to pay $866 in damages after a shipment of alcohol allegedly disappeared, a long way from the $3,871 the owners sought.

In her May 28 decision, tribunal vice-chair Kate Campbell said SunFarm Products Ltd. claimed it has paid Canadian Alliance Terminals Inc. (Canadian) to store liquor shipments since 2010.

However, SunFarm claimed that, on Aug. 26, 2022, it had 16 cases of liquor sent to Canadian’s warehouse. SunFarm said Canadian confirmed the delivery, and then a SunFarm employee picked up three of the 16 cases on Aug. 29, 2022.

But, SunFarm said, when it contacted Canadian in January 2023 to have the remaining 13 cases shipped, Canadian said the cases could not be found.

SunFarm sought $3,871 in damages.

Canadian said it investigated and had no record of receiving the pallet.

“Canadian also says the signature on the proof of delivery form is not genuine,” Campbell said.

As such, Canadian said that even if it is responsible, its liability is limited to $866.67 based on its contract with SunFarm.

SunFarm provided email exchanges, evidence Campbell said indicated it was likely Canadian had received the shipment.

“Canadian says it has no record of receiving the disputed shipment,” Campbell said. “However, Canadian does not explain why it sent the August 26 email confirming receipt of pallet number PO220518WG. I find that email strongly supports the conclusion that Canadian received the shipment, as SunFarm alleges.”

The tribunal noted that would be consistent with the shipping company Vitran’s records.

“Vitran’s delivery receipt says that on August 26, 2022, at 9:19, it delivered a 4421-pound SunFarm shipment to Canadian’s warehouse,” Campbell said. “The signature on Vitran’s delivery receipt reads, ‘Gus.’ Canadian says it showed Gus the delivery receipt, and ‘he insists that he did not do that receiving, and the signature at the bottom does not belong to him.’”

The tribunal said Canadian did not explain who Gus was; it noted Canadian could have got a statement from Gus but did not do so or explain why Gus could not make a statement.

“So, I place no weight on Canadian’s argument that the delivery receipt is somehow false,” she said.

Campbell said in her ruling SunFarm’s logistics coordinator went to the warehouse and removed three boxes of samples from the pallet, leaving the rest.

“Canadian provided no evidence to contradict (the logistics coordinator’s) assertion that he saw the pallet in Canadian’s warehouse on August 29, 2022, and removed three cases from it,” Campbell said. “I find that Canadian received SunFarm’s pallet at its warehouse on August 26, 2022.”

Canadian noted that under the terms of its written contract with SunFarm, its liability was limited to $866.67.

The December 2021 service agreement said SunFarm’s storage rate at the time the dispute pallet was identified as missing was $4 per pallet per week.

“This means the monthly storage rate was $17.33 per month ($4 x 52, divided by 12),” she said.

Campbell said there was no suggestion that SunFarm requested a higher limit or declared an excess value.

“Based on the terms of the contract, I find Canadian’s liability is limited to 50 times $17.33, which equals $866.50,” Campbell ruled.