A number of Class 1 railroad companies have been hit by lawsuits involving fuel surcharges.
According to Law360, BNSF, Union Pacific, CSX and Norfolk Southern have been sued by shippers for collaborating and fixing fuel surcharges, allowing the group to pull in more than $6 billion between 2003-2007. Complaints were filed Sept. 30 in federal court in Washington, D.C., North Carolina, California and other states. Utility companies, Hyundai and Kia Motors of America are among the accusers.
According to court documents, executives from BNSF, Union Pacific, CSX and Norfolk Southern met on multiple occasions to discuss a plan to implement the fuel surcharges. They all agreed by doing it as a group prevented shippers from going elsewhere for their rail business. Normally railroad company fuel surcharges are based on the amount of fuel used. However, the shippers involved in the lawsuits are claiming BNSF, Union Pacific, CSX and Norfolk Southern calculated the charge as a percentage of the base rate that was charged to the shipper.
The suits were initially filed in 2007, but the shippers were denied class certification on multiple occasions and had until Sept. 30 of this year to file suits individually.
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