Trek Bicycle and Bell Sports sue over cargo lost or damaged at sea

NEW YORK (BRAIN) — COVID-19, massive consumer demand and the war in Ukraine have disrupted the industry’s supply chain in recent years. Rough seas also played a role.

Bell Sports and Trek Bicycle are among the firms suing shipping companies for containers lost or damaged due to storms in the North Pacific in early 2021.

The Maersk Essen 051, a 366-meter ship, lost more than 700 containers when it encountered heavy seas off Mexico on January 16, 2021. The ship was en route from Xiamen, China, to Los Angeles. Trek is one of more than 30 companies suing Maersk, the ship’s operator, and related parties over lost or damaged cargo on the Essen.

Trek was part of an initial lawsuit with fellow plaintiff Formlabs Inc. filed in January 2022 against cargo carrier Flexport. That complaint demanded to recover $337,000 in damages. Trek’s share of the total is not specified in the court documents. The case is being consolidated with other related lawsuits that name Maersk, Flexport and other travel-related companies. Other plaintiffs include Sunbeam Products, Bob’s Discount Furniture and Skechers.

Among the lost or damaged containers were four containing a total of 8,200 boxes of Bell Sports helmets and accessories.

A month and a day after the Essen incident, the Maersk Eindhoven, also a 366-meter ship en route from Xiamen to Los Angeles, lost around 260 containers in a storm near Japan. Other containers were damaged.

According to the lawsuit filed by Bell, among the damaged Eindhoven containers were four containing a total of 8,200 boxes of Bell Sports helmets and accessories. Bell and its insurer, AGCS Marine Insurance Company, are among at least 17 companies that have sued Maersk and others for the loss. Bell’s complaint, filed in February 2022, said he lost $256,000 worth of merchandise.

Other plaintiffs in that lawsuit include Homegoods, Hallmark Cards, Wolverine World Wide and Ashley Furniture.

A spokesperson for Vista Outdoor declined to comment to BRAIN about the lawsuit. A communication from the company earlier this year mentioned the incident. The ad said that Vista Outdoor purchasing department he quickly used an insurance payout after the loss to charter a plane and fly replacement products to the US, he said, citing David Stokoe, vice president of strategic acquisitions at Vista Outdoor.

BRAIN was unable to communicate with Maersk regarding the suits. Maersk’s press office told in February that such lawsuits are “a very common tool in the shipping sector” to invoke compensation claims.

The years 2020-2021 were especially eventful for Maersk and the transpacific shipping industry, with 3,113 containers lost at sea according to the World Shipping Council. In the previous two-year period, only 779 containers were lost. The council said lost containers in 2020-2021 accounted for less than one thousandth of 1% (0.001%) of all containers shipped.

More lost on the way

In a more recent suit for property lost or damaged in transit, Trek and its insurance underwriters at Lloyds filed a lawsuit in October against the Union Pacific Railroad Company and others for damage to a shipment of bicycles from Vietnam to Butler, Iowa, through the port of Long Beach, California.

It’s not clear from court documents whether the shipment was damaged at sea or after it left Long Beach, but the lawsuit says damages totaled $96,000; Trek seeks to recover the $25,000 deductible on its insurance policy with Lloyds, and Lloyds wants to recover the balance.
The lawsuit was filed Oct. 11 in the US District Court for Southern California. Union Pacific and its co-defendants have not responded to the lawsuit in court documents. They have until November 17 to do so. A Trek spokesperson did not respond to inquiries from BRAIN for this article.

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