If we are about to enter a new phase in litigation involving field warehousing and warehouse receipts, then one of the harbingers of this new focus is Procter & Gamble Distributing Co. v. Lawrence American Field Warehousing Corp. This case, which grew out of the nefarious activities of Tony DeAngelis and Allied Crude Vegetable Oil Refining Co., involved the liability of a field warehouseman s to the holders of its warehouse receipts representing salad oil supposedly on deposit in numerous storage tanks leased by Allied to the warehouseman for use as a field warehouse. Because the defendant was initially unable to prove either that the oil had ever been in the tanks at all, or that it had been there at one time and then removed, a substantial measure of liability was imposed upon the unfortunate warehouseman who, upon examination, had discovered that the storage tanks contained a conglomerate liquid composed mostly of "acid soap stock, fish oil and water." And, if what we are to hear is to serve any useful purpose in defining those duties and liabilities in a manner which will lend itself to coherent analysis and predictive rationale, the courts must abandon the conversion theories which have for so long bedeviled the whole arena of warehouseman's liability and turn to a contract context bringing with it the concomitant rationality which should underlie any field of law.
Richard F. Broude,
The Emerging Pattern of Field Warehouse Litigation: Liability for Unexplained Losses and Nonexistent Goods,
47 Neb. L. Rev. 3
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol47/iss1/3