Thursday, April 09, 2009

Fuel Surcharge Lawsuit Runs out of Gas

Shippers drop class action suit for lack of evidence

A group of 11 shippers dropped their class action lawsuit alleging the nation’s largest less-than-truckload carriers conspired to fix fuel surcharge prices.

The lawsuit, filed in July 2007 by Farm Water Technological Services, further claimed that the carriers -- which included FedEx Freight, UPS Freight, ABF Freight System, Con-way Freight, and Old Dominion Freight Line -- recouped “much more” than their fuel cost increases and that the fuel surcharges became profit centers for the carriers.

A federal court in Georgia dismissed the case for lack of evidence in January. The plaintiffs had until March 16 to amend their complaint, which they dropped.
“They gave up,” said an attorney representing one of the carriers. “The judge’s order made it clear that to file a complaint that would justify the case moving forward, the plaintiffs needed actual facts that would lead a reasonable person to conclude some conspiracy existed. Clearly the plaintiffs had no such facts.”

In his decision, Judge William S. Duffey of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia concluded the plaintiffs’ allegations “do not show enough facts for the Court to find that agreement (among the carriers) was plausible. What the allegations show instead is that all LTL service providers had the same incentives to charge the same shipping rates, and that over time they eventually each did so."

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