The federal district court in Washington, D.C. has approved a class of direct purchasers to pursue price fixing claims against the largest railroads in the United States.
The complaining customers allege that the railroads conspired to fix the prices of rail freight transportation services through the use of rail fuel surcharges. These surcharges were fees added to customers' bills to compensate the defending railroads for increased fuel costs. According to the plaintiffs, the railroads collectively implemented a uniform rail fuel surcharge program and imposed artificially high surcharges that exceeded their increased fuel costs.
The court granted certification of a class of entities or persons that during the relevant period (July 1, 2003, until December 31, 2008) purchased rate-unregulated rail freight transportation services directly from one or more of the defendants and paid a challenged rail freight fuel surcharge. Eight named plaintiffs were designated as the class representatives.
The court also appointed two firms that had served as interim co-lead class counsel as co-lead class counsel for the class.
According to the court, designation of the firms as co-lead class counsel was in the best interests of the class because both firms:
(1) Had zealously represented the interests of the class in litigating the case while serving as interim co-lead class counsel;The decision is In Re: Rail Freight Fuel Surcharge Antitrust Litigation, 2012-1 Trade Cases ¶77,945.
(2) Had extensive relevant experience in complex antitrust litigation and knowledge of the law applicable to the case; and
(3) Were willing to commit the resources necessary to represent the class.