"Shooting the Messenger: Is FedEx Liable for the Contents of Deliveries?"Compliance Week
Barry Pollack was quoted regarding the Department of Justice's indictment of a global shipping company for alleged distribution of controlled substances, and prescription drugs and money laundering. Some legal experts agree that the enforcement action reflects a government trend of pursuing legitimate businesses as opposed to the criminals themselves. "The Department of Justice is treating FedEx not as a legitimate service provider, but as a co-conspirator of its customers," Pollack said. The FedEx prosecution is particularly important because the broader implications don't just apply to delivery companies doing business with illegal online companies. "It could apply to almost any business," he said.
Delivery shipping companies can only do so much to ensure their customers aren't using its services for unlawful purposes, Pollack said. The question is where to draw the line, he added.
If convicted, FedEx could face a penalty of up to $1.6 billion. "It's hard to believe that FedEx will litigate this case through trial just because the risk is so high," said Pollack, who thinks the more likely outcome is that FedEx resolves the case with a monetary penalty that is "well south of what FedEx would be exposed to if it went to trial and lost." If FedEx were to prevail in this case, the outcome could dissuade the government from bringing similar prosecutions against other shipping companies. To the extent the indictment is a one-off versus the first in a new enforcement trend, "will largely be dictated by how this case resolves itself," he said.