Tax Advice


Sponsored By:

   The Nation  |  Business  |  Equipment  |  Features


Court of Appeals remands rail price-fixing suit back to district, vacates class action

The panel wanted the lower court to reconsider the case in light of the recent Behrend v. Comcast Corp., which narrowed the requirements for class action certification and also held that the model used to compute damages was flawed.

The Trucker News Services

8/12/2013

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today vacated the class action certification of a price-fixing lawsuit against four railroad companies, remanding the suit back to the district court.

The decision reversed a lower court’s ruling to turn the lawsuit into a class action against BNSF Railway; Union Pacific Railroad; Norfolk Southern Railway; and CSX Transportation.

The four rail companies had for some time had imposed rate-based fuel surcharges against shippers but the practice had “proliferated and intensified” during the past decade and a group of shippers brought an anti-trust lawsuit against the railroads alleging they had engaged in a price-fixing conspiracy, the court noted.

However, the court said the four railroads named comprise some 90 percent of rail freight traffic and the panel said the lower court didn’t consider fully enough the potential harm to the rails.

The panel wanted the lower court to reconsider the case in light of the recent Behrend v. Comcast Corp., which narrowed the requirements for class action certification and also held that the model used to compute damages was flawed.

“Mindful that the district court neither considered the damages model’s flaw in its certification decision nor had the benefit of Behrend’s guidance, we will vacate class certification and remand the case to the dictrict court to afford it an opportunity to consider these issues in the first instance,” the decision stated.

Before becoming a class action, the action began as several suits filed in 2007.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

Find more news and analysis from The Trucker, and share your thoughts, on Facebook.