Maersk subsidiary Hamburg Süd must pay almost $ 10 million in damages to the American shipper OJ Commerce, a furniture importer with headquarters in Florida that had sued the shipping company for breach of contract.

The damages, a preliminary ruling that the shipping company can still appeal, are significantly higher than previous fines handed out by the US maritime regulator FMC (Federal Maritime Commission) in recent cases against container shipping companies.

Hapag-Lloyd, for example, concluded a $ 2 million settlement with the FMC last year after the German shipping company was sued by two American container trucking companies and the Taiwanese shipping company Wan Hai had to pay $ 850,000. Cosco ended an FMC procedure by reaching a settlement with the disgruntled American home goods specialist MCS, a deal the amount of which has not been disclosed.

Furniture importer OJ Commerce had itself demanded much higher compensation of 100 million dollars in the case against Hamburg Süd. According to the shipper, these were the extra costs that had to be incurred because the container shipping company refused to take on board the number of contractually agreed containers for OJ during the corona boom, forcing the company to buy container space on the very expensive spot market at the time.

The FMC has calculated that the actual damage suffered by the furniture importer was considerably lower than the $100 million: $4.6 million, but the regulator calls it “appropriate” to double that amount and have Hamburg Süd pay a small $10 million. According to the regulator, the shipping company did indeed ‘willingly and knowingly’ send high bills to the assertive shipper, thus acting in violation of the American Shipping Act.

If the compensation is also upheld in the final judgment, the bill can go to Copenhagen, where Maersk announced at the beginning of this year that the Hamburg Süd brand will be discontinued. In April, Hamburg Süd informed its customers that the full integration into parent company Maersk will take place “gradually” over the course of this further year.

Treated unfairly
There are more cases at the FMC against container shipping companies that allegedly treated customers unfairly during the heyday of the corona period. For example, the U Shippers Group from the US demanded $ 180 million from Maersk and the South Korean electronics giant Samsung filed a case against the Israeli shipping company ZIM.