Artist can sue UPS over lost paintings, court rules

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that an artist can sue UPS in state court over two paintings removed from their shipping tube while in transit and sold by the company UPS contracts to handle its lost-and-found operation.

See Full Article

The court ruled that artist Ivana Vidovic Mlinar's lawsuit can go to trial, rejecting UPS' argument that federal law applies.

Mlinar didn't purchase insurance in 2005 when she shipped her paintings, "Advice" and "The Messenger," from a South Florida package store that used UPS. The paintings, which she valued at $30,000, were headed to a New York City exhibit that she saw as a major opportunity to advance her career. When the shipping tube arrived at the gallery, however, it had been cut open and was empty.

Mlinar contacted UPS, which told her it couldn't help her directly because the package store was its customer, not her - even though she had been given a UPS receipt and tracking number. The package store gave her a $100 coupon and she partly blamed herself for not buying insurance.

But the situation changed in 2007. Mara Hatfield, Mlinar's attorney, said the artist was contacted by a Missouri man who had bought "Advice" from a company, Cargo Largo. UPS contracts with that Kansas City, Missouri,-based company to handle its lost-and-found operation. Any goods Cargo Largo can't return, it gets to sell.

Hatfield said Cargo Largo sold "Advice" to the Missouri man for $1,000 - a fraction of its value. He also acquired "The Messenger" from another party. Realizing the paintings' value, he listed them on Craigslist, offering to trade them for a used Mercedes-Benz. He also contacted Mlinar, who had placed an identification sticker on the back of her paintings.

This development led Mlinar to file suit in Florida court against UPS, Cargo Largo and the packing store, alleging they had profited from criminal activity - the theft of her paintings - and had violated her copyright. She also accused UPS of deceptive trade practices by having the packing store give her a UPS receipt and make it appear she was a UPS customer.

The buyer returned the paintings in exchange for being dropped from the copyright lawsuit.

UPS argued that under a century-old federal law governing interstate shipping, lawsuits involving lost goods must be tried in federal court. The company's lawyers argued that since the two-year federal statute of limitations had expired, Mlinar couldn't sue in federal court, either.

Florida's lower courts agreed with UPS, but the state Supreme Court reinstated the lawsuit Thursday and ordered it heard. The seven members ruled Mlinar has a possible argument that her paintings weren't simply lost, but that criminal activity took place. Under those circumstances, the lawsuit can be tried in state court.

UPS spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg said Thursday that the company looks forward to trying the case and that Mlinar has not provided any evidence substantiating wrongdoing by the company.

Cargo Largo did not return a phone message seeking comment.



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Last BlackBerry-designed phone with physical keyboard to hit stores in April

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Fans of BlackBerry's classic physical keyboard will have reason to celebrate when the last product designed in part by the former smartphone leader becomes available in April. The Waterloo, Ont.-based firm played a role in developing the KEYone, named for the return of the QWERTY keyboard that other smartphone designers have mostly long retired. Source
  • Final cleanup begins at Dakota Access pipeline protest camp

    Economic CTV News
    BISMARCK, N.D. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has moved into the evacuated Dakota Access pipeline protest camp to finish the cleanup started weeks ago by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. A Florida-based company has been hired to provide trash removal and environmental cleanup in the main Oceti Sakowin camp on the north side of the Cannonball River and the smaller Rosebud camp on the south side. Source
  • Appealing to millennials, Las Vegas gets e-sports arena

    Economic CTV News
    LAS VEGAS -- The arena has all the features that a professional sports venue needs: stands, warm-up areas for teams, massive screens for spectators and a broadcast platform for commentators. But what distinguishes this new Las Vegas arena is its dozens of video game consoles. Source
  • Warren Buffett says don't waste money on investment fees

    Economic CTV News
    OMAHA, Neb. -- Billionaire Warren Buffett wants investors to be wary of the high fees Wall Street routinely charges because of the damage they do to investment returns, and he emphasized his confident outlook in the U.S. Source
  • 'We always find a way': N.L.'s oil-dependent economy is hurting, but there is hope on the horizon

    Economic CBC News
    Dwight Ball, the affable pharmacist who has been Newfoundland and Labrador's premier for the last 15 months, said something remarkable Wednesday while swinging an axe through several hundred government jobs. "We're human, too. This impacts us," said Ball, who clearly has shown no relish for the more brutal parts of dealing with an oil-dependent economy during a collapse in petroleum prices. Source
  • Deciphering Trump's curious comments on Keystone XL pipeline

    Economic CBC News
    In his nearly hour-long speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday morning, U.S. President Trump talked about a lot of things — the media, Obamacare, trade and crime. But he also ventured into pipelines. Source
  • Ontario police looking for 'large quantity' of stolen cheese

    Economic CTV News
    SOUTH WEST OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Ont. - Police in southwestern Ontario are looking for thieves who made off with a lot of cheese. Ontario Provincial Police say the Village Cheese Mill in South West Oxford Township, east of London, Ont. Source
  • Stock prices slide lower despite large profits at big banks

    Economic CBC News
    Canada's benchmark stock index is on track for its worst day of the year as oil prices are lower and financial firms are selling off despite record earnings at some of Canada's biggest banks. The S&P/TSX composite index was off by 260 points to 15,520 in the afternoon. Source
  • TSX tumbles 247 points despite big profits at big banks

    Economic CBC News
    Canada's benchmark stock index is on track for its worst day of the year as oil prices are lower and financial firms are selling off despite record earnings at some of Canada's biggest banks. The S&P/TSX composite index was off by 260 points to 15,520 in the afternoon. Source
  • 'Baycott': Why 'Peeved Beavers' are upset by Ivanka Trump's brand at the Bay

    Economic CTV News
    Armed with distinctive blonde wigs, pursed lips and red power ties, a group of Ontario women are planning to dress up as U.S. President Donald Trump to protest the Hudson’s Bay Co. for carrying Ivanka Trump’s fashion line during two demonstrations in the Toronto area planned for Saturday. Source