Port of Norfolk

Stuff happens: Heritage Pharma loses a container of pharmaceuticals at the Port of Norfolk

Lawsuit to recover $221,000 in losses filed against Agility Logistics, Hapag-Lloyd and the port


Pharmaceutical shippers using oceanborne freight usually worry about delivery delays, extreme environmental conditions and improper storage, but Heritage Pharma encountered a different hazard last summer: its container was knocked off a freighter while docked at the Port of Norfolk. The company has now filed suit against Agility Logistics, the logistics provider; Hapag-Lloyd, operator of the APL Antwerp freighter, and Virginia International Terminal, operator of the Port of Norfolk.

The lawsuit (2:19-cv-00152-MSD-RJK), just filed in the Eastern District of Virginia federal admiralty court, seeks recovery of the container’s cargo value, around $221,000, consisting of packages of metformin and glipizide, plus associated shipping costs. The suit only describes the incident as “During discharge operations at the Terminal on or about July 29, 2018, the Container with Plaintiff’s Cargo was knocked off the M/V APL ANTWERP and into the harbor.” A more colorful description was reported in the local Virginian-Pilot newspaper, detailing that a crane operator was dealing with automated controls on the crane which caused a crane component to knock a stack of eight containers into the Elizabeth River. The Heritage shipment was in a temperature-controlled reefer; between the temperature change and submersion of the cargo, the shipment was a total loss. The shipment originated in India.

One ironic point to the incident: Virginia International Terminal is in the middle of a $700-million program to expand reefer container capacity at its Norfolk and Virginia International Gateway terminals.