Railroads have filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia seeking to file a lower court’s decision to certify a class action against them for fixing surcharges, reports the National Industrial Transportation League in its latest Notice
NIT League said the railroads argued in the petition that the District Court for the District of Columbia incorrectly applied established legal standards and would permit shippers that suffered no injuries to be part of the class action.
But the co-lead class counsel for plaintiffs in the case, Michael Hausfeld said the District Court’s opinion, issued July 13, “represents the culmination of a lengthy and careful analysis of one of the most monumental records on class certification ever compiled in the history of American antitrust jurisprudence in which the railroads jointly fixed prices, overcharged their customers, and received a significant financial windfall.”
Hausfeld’s firm said the plaintiffs—shippers nationwide—allege that BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific “unlawfully conspired to fix, raise, maintain, or stabilize prices of rail freight transportation services sold in the United States through the use of coordinated rail fuel surcharges, which did not reflect their fuel costs but rather served as independent profit centers.”
In a short written order U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman certified a class as being “all entities or persons that at any time from July 1, 2003 until December 31, 2008 (the “Class Period”) purchased rate-unregulated rail freight transportation services directly from one or more of the defendants, as to which defendants assessed a stand-alone rail freight fuel surcharge applied as a percentage of the base rate for the freight transport (or where some or all of the fuel surcharge was included in the base rate through a method referred to as “rebasing”) (“fuel surcharge”).” - Chris Dupin