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Graham company sued for transportation costs to NY wind farm

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A heavy equipment carrier in Graham is being sued for allegedly failing to pay $68,513 in expenses related to the shipment of components for a wind farm in New York.

Buckner Heavylift Cranes (“Buckner”) is one of two defendants in a lawsuit that has been filed in Alamance County civil superior court by DeMase Warehouse Systems in Lyndhurst, New Jersey.

Buckner, which has an office at 4732 N.C. Highway 54 East in Graham, was hired to transport “the left and right side of a crawler track,” which is described as “part of a crane wrapped around mechanical wheels that make traction…to erect windmills that generate electricity,” according to the suit.

Buckner filed a motion to dismiss the suit two weeks ago, arguing that DeMase Warehouse Systems has failed to state a valid claim for relief, as there had been no contractual relationship between the two companies when the freight was shipped to the wind farm in New York in the summer of 2022.

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In its suit, DeMase Warehouse Systems (“DeMase”) claims that Buckner hired another company, Kansas-based Ryan Transportation Service, to make arrangements to transport freight from a port in Newark, New Jersey to a job site described as the Baron Wind Farm in Cohocton, New York, which is about 90 miles south of Buffalo.

DeMase claims that, under complex federal regulations, transportation of the freight to the wind farm in New York “required it to be placed on extra-long specialized trailers.”  Those trailers were then required to be transported to and weighed at a special weigh station in order to pass through the state of New York, as well as a “mandatory New York state police escort,” a service that alone cost $14,613.15, according to an invoice that is included in the court file.

“This shipment was required to go to the only New York special weigh station that could weigh the loads in question,” a process which can take days to complete, DeMase alleges in its suit.  One of several allegedly outstanding invoices included in the court file states that one of the “track” components for the wind farm weighed 147,710 pounds.

The other defendant, Ryan Transportation, “is an agent of Buckner that makes freight arrangements and agrees to pay the freight charges,” DeMase asserts in its suit.

DeMase claims to have issued three invoices – which allegedly remain outstanding – for the transport of the components for the wind farm: two invoices of $26,950 each in freight charges to Ryan Transportation (“Ryan”) in August 2022 for the first and second “crane tracks”; and one issued in December 2022 for $14,613.15 for the mandatory New York state police escort that DeMase claims to have initially covered.  “Ryan is an agent of Buckner that agreed to pay the freight charges,” the suit asserts.

Ryan Transport supposedly “arranged many loads that were shipped to the Baron site,” the complaint states.

DeMase is seeking recovery of an alleged outstanding balance of $68,513.15 – against each of the defendants, Ryan and Buckner – for its freight services and the cost of the police escort for the shipment.

The attorney for the Graham defendant, Paul P. Burghardt of a firm named GC Associates, filed a motion earlier this month, asking a judge to dismiss the claims against Buckner, along with a request for a hearing to be scheduled in Alamance County superior court on July 15 of this year.

“Buckner did not contract with or otherwise consent to [DeMase] brokering the loads at issue,” Buckner asserts in its memorandum to support its motion to dismiss.  Instead, Buckner contends that another company, identified in the court file as Connell Equipment/RLE Enterprises, was the carrier for the wind farm components.  “Buckner was the shipper or consignor and Ryan was the transportation broker,” which subsequently contracted with DeMase and other carriers to transport the loads, Buckner states in its motion.

Buckner further contends that it paid Ryan, as well as Connell Equipment, in full for their services related to the wind farm project in New York.  “[DeMase] and Ryan have been engaged in a dispute over payment from Ryan,” Buckner states in its motion for dismissal. “[DeMase] has absolutely no legal basis for asserting a claim against Buckner,” as there was no contractual relationship between DeMase and Buckner, the Graham company notes in its motion.

Meanwhile, the second defendant to the suit, Ryan Transportation Services, has been granted an extension of the deadline, until April 14, to file a response to the lawsuit, based an order that has been entered by an Alamance County assistant clerk of court.  That company is being represented by attorney Elaine M. Moyer of the Young Moore and Henderson law firm in Raleigh.

The plaintiff, DeMase Warehouse Systems, is being represented by attorney James L. Fretwell of Charlotte.

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