Why customer dragged DHL to court 

   Why customer dragged DHL to court 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022 12:06 pm


By Akin Kuponiyi
 A Lagos based jewellery merchant, Mr Sanni Arewa, whose items were alleged to have been missing while in the custody of DHL INTERNATIONAL(NIGERIA)LIMITED has dragged the company before a Federal high court in Lagos. The plaintiff is claiming a total sum of N22.5 million  from the courier delivery services company as damages
        According to an amended statement of claim filed before the court on behalf of the plaintiff by a Lagos lawyer, Barrister Kenneth Emeanua, the plaintiff alleged that in the course of his business, he received orders from two of his customers, one in Canada and another one in the United States of America for the purchase of Jewelries and deliver to them.
      According to his customer’s orders, he bought the said Jewelry from Tejuosho market in Lagos as follows:
      In respect of his customer based in Michigan, United States of America, he bought a complete set of 44.3 grams 18-carat Italian gold and billed the same at the rate of N18,000 per gram to the said customer.
    The monetary value of the gold is in the sum of N797,400,
The customer in the United States of America also provided to the plaintiff an additional N20,000  with which he bought the cloth contained in the package in the sum of N6,280, and the additional N13,720  to cover the cost of the shipment.
      Again, the plaintiff purchased 18-carat Italian gold, the total monetary value of the said jewellery he purchased for the Canadian customer is in the sum of N1,480,000  Only.
     In addition, the plaintiff received the sum of N20,000  out of which he used to purchase the cloth inside the package and paid the sum of N13,720 to the defendant concerning the shipment of the package.
      Mr Arewa avers further that under the purchase of the said jewellery as afore-stated, and by the agreement he reached with his customers to the effect  that the said Jewelry is to be shipped to them in
the United States of America and Canada respectively vide courier.
     He duly  packaged the consignment of Jewelry for the respective  customers together with the clothes he bought on their behalf  in two separate parks and got a dispatch rider, to  deliver both packages to the office of the defendant at 15, Adeniran Ogunsanya, Street, Surulere, Lagos on 18th April 2020
     Mr Arewa also avers  that at the defendant’s office, the two packs were inspected by one M/s Omo a staff of the DHL who stated to the plaintiff  that the inventory of the contents of the two packages was duly recorded by the said Miss Omo, in her handwriting, to the effect that both packages contained one cloth each and jewellery, with the different pieces of jewellery identified and described, The two separate packages were billed at the charge of N13,720 each, which the plaintiff duly paid,
  The packages afore-stated were received from the dispatch rider in good condition by the defendant’s staff, M/s Omo, and there was no complaint of any defect whatsoever of the contents of the packages from the defendant or any of its staff either at the time of acceptance or at any other time whatsoever, and his copies of the Airway Bills were delivered to him by the dispatch rider.
    However 3 days after delivery of the said packages to the defendant’s office at Surulere, Lagos, and acceptance of the same for shipment by the defendant, he received a call vide telephone from his customer,  the consignee in Canada, to effect that she had received the package, but that the jewellery content of same was missing and/or short-landed as only the cloth content was delivered to her and also captured the inventory as taken by the defendant’s staff and sent recorded video evidence of the contents she received by her and also captured the inventory as taken by the defendant’s staff and sent to the plaintiff.
    The plaintiff was shocked at the news and will plead the recorded video evidence as sent to him by the consignee in Canada during the trial of the case.
    The plaintiff avers that he immediately contacted the defendant’s branch office at Adeniran Ogunsanya Street vide telephone and also by visiting the said office, the response he got from the said office was that his complaint will be investigated and that the defendant will revert to him with their findings in due course.
    Consequent to the report he received from the consignee in Canada, he immediately contacted his customer in Michigan, United States of America, and narrated the development concerning a similar consignment as hers which he sent to Canada through the DHL on the same day, and advised her not to wait for her package to be delivered to her home, but to insist on receiving same at the office of the defendant in Michigan, United States of America, and advise which she adhered to.
      He later also received a similar report from the consignee in the United States of America that she was at the Office of the defendant in Michigan to pick up her package as constituted but mysteriously, the jewellery content of the package was missing and/or short landed as only the cloth content of her package was delivered to her. She also captured video evidence of the items she received together with the inventory taken by the defendant’s staff and sent both to him.
    As the customer in the United States of America called him to report to him right from the defendant’s office in Michigan, United States of America, he insisted that she should explain the situation to officials of the defendant’s office in the United States of America, who upon her explanation, examined the package, and the handwritten inventory was taken by the defendant’s staff in Lagos and confirmed that indeed the package was tampered with and that the jewellery content was missing.
      whereupon the defendant’s officials in the United States of America tracked the shipment, extensively investigated the shipment and confirmed that the package after being picked up went through a process of physical inspection in Lagos Nigeria by the defendant’s officials in Nigeria before shipment.
    The DHL officials in the United States also found vide their investigations that the reason why the package must have been tampered with is that DHL International Limited as a policy do not ship precious metals, jewellery being same, which information was never communicated to the plaintiff at the time of submission of the packages at the DHL’s branch office in Lagos, and hence the jewellery might have been removed from the package, and returned to the shipper,
       The conclusion of the investigation from the United States of America was that the consignee in the USA was advised to liaise with the shipper,  the plaintiff and confirm whether the jewellery was returned to him and if not that he should liaise with the DHL in Nigeria to ascertain the position with the missing item
    The plaintiff shall contend at the trial, that the findings afore-stated concerning the jewellery contained in the package for the USA, also apply to the jewellery contained in the package for Canada, as both packages were received from him simultaneously and must have gone through the same process of physical inspection as found vide the investigations of DHL in Michigan, USA, and the same fate befell both packages, as only the clothes content of both packages were delivered, while their jewellery contents got lost or could not be accounted for till date.
  Under these developments as he complained to the defendant’s office at No 15, Adeniran Ogunsanya Street, Surulere, a branch office of the defendant, vide several telephone calls and visits, but all he was told was that they were investigating and would revert to him, which they never did, as he never got any response from the defendant.
   The case was incident at Bode Thomas Police station and later
    instructed his solicitor to take up the matter legally with the defendant company, consequent upon which his solicitors, Messrs Emeanua & Co caused a letter dated 18th May 2020 same addressed to the defendant, to be delivered to the defendant on 19th May 2020 at its international headquarters in Nigeria at International Airport Road, Oshodi Lagos.
  On 21st May 2020, a telephone call was received from one Tola of the defendant company to the plaintiff’s solicitor Kenneth .O. Emeanua Esq to confirm receipt of the demand letter and with a promise that the defendant is investigating and will duly revert to the plaintiff’s with their findings
      On 25th June 2020, the defendant through its counsel Messrs OLAJIDE OYEWOLE LLP wrote to the plaintiff’s counsel accepting that the said jewellery was duly received by the defendant for shipment, but that the jewellery got lost outside Nigeria. The defendant through its counsel offered to pay the sum of =N=200,000  as compensation.
     As the proposal made by the defendant was not acceptable to him, he responded to the same vide his solicitor’s letter dated 26th June 2020 rejecting the same and made it clear to the defendant that he remains open to an amicable resolution of the matter subject to either a return of the jewellery to him in the same condition they were received from him on 18th April 2020 or receipt of a reasonable proposal on the demands presented to the defendant.
    The plaintiff contended that as a result of the negligence and willful misconduct of the defendant and its staff respectively, he has suffered losses both financially and otherwise, as he lost the business goodwill of his customers, which cannot be remedied by damages of any kind.
    While claiming the sum of 20Million as damages for negligence and willful conduct of the defendant and its staff respectfully, the plaintiff is also urging the court to declare that the defendant was negligent, and its staff willfully misconducted themselves in handling his package.
       The plaintiff is also claiming, that the sum  of N2,277,000  plus interest at the rate of 21% is the monetary value of the jewellery
However, the defendant in its statement of defence denied nearly all the averment of the plaintiff and stated thus:
      On the 18th of April 2020, a customer walked into Defendant’s office at 15 Adeniran Ogunsanya in Surulere with a parcel containing cloth material for shipment to his two customers
      In line with Defendant’s standard practice, Defendant’s staff checked and weighed the Canada shipment in the presence of the customer.
    Defendant’s staff then explained to the customer that by the Defendant’s pre-contract in procedure the contract of carriage would be governed by the terms and conditions contained in placards and air waybills displayed at conspicuous places within the Defendant’s office and specifically advised the customer to take sufficient time to read same.
     The customer read the said terms and conditions; confirmed the correctness of the Canada shipment’s details contained in the customer made payment of the sum of N13,000 as cost of freight for the Canada shipment. Defendant’s staff packed the Canada shipment in flyer number FN-2687582, and the customer appended his signature on the “security check” sticker which was used to seal the Canada shipment.
    The defendant discovered that the shipment contained some jewellery in addition to the cloth material. Consequently, Defendant’s staff informed the customer that as a business policy, Defendant does not ship expensive jewellery and gemstone under the general courier services and any expensive jewellery has to be shipped at Defendant’s Head Office. In particular, the Defendant’s staff pointed out clause 2 to the customer, which provided as follows:
Unacceptable Shipments:
A Shipment is deemed unacceptable if:
No customs declaration is made when required by applicable customs regulation
The customer then made payment of the sum of N13,720.00 as the cost of freight for the US shipment. Defendant’s staff packed and sealed the US shipment in flyer number FN-2687600, and the customer appended his signature on the “security check” sticker which was used to seal the US shipment. The defendant will rely on Defendant’s AWB no. 8987344741 and the corresponding commercial invoice for the US shipment at the trial of this suit.
   The defendant did not receive any complete set of 44.3 grams 18 Carat Italian gold with the total monetary value of N797,400 from the Plaintiff or anybody whatsoever, and the Plaintiff shall be. put to the strictest proof of this averment at the trial of this suit.
    Defendant did not receive any package with the total monetary value of 11, 480,000  from Plaintiff or anybody whatsoever. Defendant states that the value of the shipments received from Defendant’s customer on 18 April 2020 in respect of AWB nos. 8987344682 and 8987344741 are $10 each as correctly endorsed on the waybills issued to the customer.
    At the point of delivery of shipment in AWB no. 8987344682 to the said Consignee, Defendant did not receive any complaint whatsoever from the consignee about the missing content or tampering with the shipment flyer number FN- FN-2687592. The consignee acknowledged receipt of the shipment without any complaint. Therefore, Plaintiff’s allegation that the alleged jewellery content was missing and or short-landed is false, baseless and unfounded.
Defendant admits that after Plaintiff complained in respect of the shipment, Defendant commenced internal investigation on the said complaint. Also, Defendant regularly updated the Plaintiff on its investigation status
Plaintiff’s lawyer, Kenneth Emeanua Esq on his office telephone number, 08030543504, as indicated in Plaintiff’s Solicitor’s letter, to acknowledge the receipt of said letter. She advised him that the matter is being investigated and DHL would revert with its finding
. Defendant confirms that all items listed were duly and completely shipped from Nigeria to the US. The shipment was duly packaged and sealed by Defendant’s staff in the presence of the customer. Also, the same was properly scanned at the Defendant’s hub located at the Muritala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos; and transported to the US.
However, the US shipments came out of US Customs and Border Patrol inspection with the green re-sealing tape indicating that the US shipment was opened and examined by US Customs and Border Patrol for drug/counterfeit items. The Defendant would rely on the video titled, “Here’s how customs search 1 million mail packages a day for drugs and counterfeit goods”, produced by Abby Narishkin and Steve
     Defendant denies the Claim, In response, reiterates that DHL US neither commenced an investigation nor made any findings regarding the US shipment; and the Plaintiff did not receive any report of such investigation or finding. As a global network, DHL’s business practice is to commence an investigation into any complaint of missing shipment from the country of origin of the shipment. Thus, DHL-US requested the consignee to contact the shipper in Nigeria to register a formal complaint.
Defendant maintains that aside from going through DHL transit hubs both the US and Canada shipments went through routine customs and border security agencies of shipment. These government agencies have the power to open, confiscate and seize illegal goods (including counterfeit products). After due investigation, Defendant found that both the US and Canada shipments were not opened in any of its transit hubs.
 Defendant’s Solicitors’ letter was written under the recommendation that parties explore the possibility of an amicable resolution of this matter, wherein Defendant offered Plaintiff the sum of N200,000  to reach an amicable settlement, promoting customer relationship and business cordiality. Said offer was however rejected by Plaintiff. The claimant’s solicitor’s letter forms part of the correspondence in the process of an amicable settlement and is likewise irrelevant or inadmissible in proof of Plaintiff’s claim.
The shipments were neither tampered with while in the custody of the Defendant nor removed or appropriated by the Defendant’s staff who conducted the physical inspections of the shipments
      Defendant denies the Claim and states that Plaintiff is not liable for any of the claims. Defendant avers that Plaintiff’s suit is frivolous, you and an abuse of judicial process. Thus Plaintiff’s suit should be dismissed with substantial cost.

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