In Mark Centuori v. United Parcel Services, a homeowner brought a negligence action against UPS for injuries sustained after he moved three packages that were incorrectly delivered to his home. 2017 WL 1194497, at *1 (W.D. Wash. March 30, 2017). More specifically, Mr. Centuori asserted that UPS (1) failed to follow its policies in correcting inconsistent addresses, (2) left the packages at Mr. Centuori's home without his consent, and (3) left the packages obstructing an entrance to Mr. Centuori's home. Id. At *6. Thereafter, UPS moved for summary judgment and argued that it cannot be held liable for Mr. Centuori's claims because his claims are preempted under the FAAAA. Id, at *3. In support of its argument that Mr. Centuori's claims were expressly preempted, UPS pointed out that the language of the FAAAA expressly preempted claims that related to UPS's services. Id. at *4.
The Court conducted a thorough analysis of the history of state law preemption claims. This court determined that "these cases1 make clear that the infrequency with which the ADA and FAAAA preempt common law claims is not based on a separate line of analysis; rather, it is an effect of applying ADA and FAAAA preemption doctrine." Id, at *5.
Most significantly, the court concluded that the FAAAA preempted a theory of negligence raised by Mr. Centuori—failure to obtain consent. In making this determination, the court looked to whether imposing liability on UPS for failure to obtain consent would "drastically alter the manner in which UPS provide[d] package shipment services to and from various markets at various times." Id., at 7. The Court noted that Mr. Centuori was not clear in the "precise contours of this theory of negligence," but it would at least require UPS to obtain a recipient's consent every single time a package is rerouted to them. Id. The Court recognized this is exactly the "sort of patchwork regulatory framework that Congress intended to avoid by enacting the FAAAA's preemption provision." Id. Accordingly, the Court granted UPS' summary judgment motion on Mr. Centuori's theory that UPS was negligent for failing to obtain his consent before delivering the packages. Id.
This case demonstrates that the Courts are willing to apply preemption in personal injury cases based on the facts of each claim. We believe we will continue to see more instances where courts are finding state-based tort claims are directly affecting "price, routes and services" offered by a motor carrier and thus subject to preemption.