Courier ordered to pay damages after stallion sperm shipment loses its potency

HALIFAX _ A multinational courier has been ordered to pay damages for taking two days to deliver stallion sperm after a Halifax adjudicator found customers were justified in expecting overnight service.

Augustus Richardson ruled in the small claims court of Nova Scotia earlier this month that FedEx should pay the claimant $740.36 because claimant Chelsea McKendrick had understood “Priority overnight” delivery meant the sperm would arrive within 24 hours after it was sent.

In his Sept. 14 ruling, Richardson said the company hadn’t limited its liability last year by publishing advice “in small print” on its website that the delivery may take two days.

The adjudicator said the operator of Owls Ridge Farm in Seaforth, N.S., had ordered the semen from a farm in Langley, B.C., and there was a limited time period that the sperm would be effective.

McKendrick told the Halifax court she had given the mare injections of hormones to trigger ovulation and had incurred vet fees with the expectation that the sperm would arrive on time.

She tried to use the stallion sperm after it arrived on May 4, 2016, rather than the day before, but the ruling says “the sperm had lost is potency” and the mare didn’t become pregnant.

The decision notes that a FedEx representative testified at the hearing that FedEx’s ‘Overnight priority’ service was overnight when its service area in Canada was smaller.

The representative told the court that since November 2015, “FedEx’s west to east coast service had changed to two days,” and that the web site had a link that the shipper could have used to find that the delivery would take two days.

However, the adjudicator said he wasn’t persuaded.

He said McKendrick’s reliance was based on “the very name of the service.”

“McKendrick’s reliance was reasonable given the name and nature of the service provided. It was a reliance that FedEx obviously knew would exist _ otherwise why offer such a service using such a name?”

Richardson’s damages assessment were based on the vet charges that McKendrick incurred to ready the mare and give her the ineffective semen, as well as the legal costs.