A federal appeals court will soon rule on whether an antitrust case against four railroads that allegedly engaged in price-fixing can be tried in the courts as a class action suit.
Dakota Granite Co., Zinifex Taylor Chemicals and 11 other shippers brought a suit against BNSF, CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific in 2007. The plaintiffs alleged the carriers illegally imposed surcharges from 2003 to 2008. In that case, the judge allowed for a class-action suit against the railroads. The carriers appealed that ruling, and the case has now reached the D.C. Circuit court of appeals.
The American Chemistry Council has come out in support of the plaintiffs in the case, saying the case deserves to move forward as a class-action suit. Ballooning fuel rates and fuel surcharges are a problem that needs to be addressed, the organization said.
“Railroad mergers have led to far less freight rail competition, leaving more than 75 percent of all freight rail stations captive to a single major railroad,” the statement read. “This extraordinary market power has enabled railroads to charge shippers higher rates and high fees, including fuel surcharges. The lack of competitive market forces has left shippers with skyrocketing freight rail costs and growing concern about freight rate increases and fuel surcharges, among other rate-related increases.” - Jon Ross