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Can I sue Fedex for punitive damages? I recently moved back to Los Angeles from Porland, OR and shipped 13 boxes via FEDEX.

Los Angeles, CA |

6 of the 13 boxes arrived with HUGE gaping holes in them. (I have pics that would blow your mind!) Since I didn't inventory every single item I packed in these boxes & none of the obvious stuff is either missing or broken (so far as I can tell NOW) I can't put in a damage or loss complaint. The damage is so egregious that I'm pursuing getting ALL the shipping costs refunded (almost $400), but I have NO WAY of knowing if my stuff was falling out (or stolen) out of these huge holes the entire trip or if, as they say, the boxes were intact when they reached the station & the driver/delivery guy mangled them & "there was nothing in his truck". (The manager who swears to this was fired so I have no way of checking.) I want to sue for gross negligence & punitive damages in small claims court.

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Attorney answers 4


Based on the information you have provided, you cannot sue FedEx for punitive damages. In fact, based on your post, it sounds like you have not even suffered any kind of damages (hence, the reason you can't put in a damage or loss complaint).

This attorney is licensed to practice law in the State of California. The laws of your jurisdiction may differ and thus this answer is for informational and educational purposes only and is not to be considered as legal advice. Since all facts are not addressed in the question, this answer could change depending on other significant and important facts. This answer in no way constitutes an attorney-client relationship.


Punitive damages are not easy to plead and prove in California. You have to show that someone acted with malice, oppression, or fraud. There are legal definitions of these terms, but what they basically boil down to is that someone either deliberately, intentionally did something to harm another or violate their rights, or acted with conscious disregard for that person's safety and/or rights. It's even harder to prove punitive damages against a corporation, because you have to show that the corporation, through an officer, director, or managing agent, ratified or authorized the egregious conduct. You should consult a local attorney with the specifics of your situation; damaged boxes may not rise to the necessary level of egregiousness to warrant punitive damages.

This response is based on limited information. It is not meant as and does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.


Can you sue them? Yes. Will you win? I am not a CA lawyer but based on what you have provided it does not appear you have suffered any loss. So any damages, let alone punitive damages, are going to be hard to recover.


If I am reading your post properly you are considering suing because of holes in your packaging. No identifiable losses or damages.

Yes, you can sue. No, you will not prevail.

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the US Federal Courts in Virginia. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this matter.