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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / More shippers file suits over railroad fuel surcharges NEWSWIRE

More shippers file suits over railroad fuel surcharges NEWSWIRE

By | October 3, 2019

More than two dozen companies sue BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and UP over charges that began in 2003

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A CSX Transportation intermodal train hits the diamond at Blue Island, Ill., on Sept. 16, 2019. CSX, BNSF, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific face a series of lawsuits from shippers over fuel surcharges the railroads instituted beginning in 2003.
TRAINS: David Lassen

Shippers across the country filed suit against the four largest U.S. railroads on Monday, alleging the railroads conspired to increase fees with fuel charges beginning in 2003.

Reuters initially reported on suits by Hyundai and Kia [See “Hyundai, Kia sue Class I railroads over fuel surcharges,” Trains News Wire, Oct. 2, 2019], but in all, some 27 companies, ranging from Campbell’s Soup to Mercedes-Benz USA, filed similar suits against BNSF Railway, CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific.

The companies originally sought class-action status, the Associated Press reports, but a federal judge denied that request earlier this year, saying cases would have to be brought individually or by groups of similar shippers. The deadline for filing those cases was Monday.

The AP quoted from the suit filed by Amalgamated Sugar in U.S. District Court in Boise, which claims the railroads “engaged in an extraordinary series of meetings, phone calls and email communications through which they embarked on a conspiracy — under the guise of a fuel cost recovery program — to apply and enforce rail fuel surcharges across their customers in order to generate profits.”

The Idaho Statesman reports that Union Pacific spokeswoman Kristen South wrote in an email, “We believe the claims are meritless and plan to vigorously defend ourselves in court.”  BNSF spokeswoman Amy Casas told the newspaper that the company was reviewing the latest filings but said in an email that “these allegations are not new and we have strongly denied these accusations for well over a decade.” Norfolk Southern declined comment and CSX did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

5 thoughts on “More shippers file suits over railroad fuel surcharges NEWSWIRE

  1. Someone should learn a little basic retail. You NEVER put a surcharge out there where a customer can see it! If one’s needed, you BURY it in the retail cost! Same thing with a “materials” fee.

    All those add-ons do is annoy the customers and leave your salespeople and reps trying to explain the unexplainable.

    Unbelieveable.

  2. Im not condoning the railroads practice but companies like UPS have been charging fuel surcharges for years.

  3. I can’t speak to the current spate of lawsuits but; the fuel surcharge related proceedings in the past tended to rely on the similar fuel surcharge methodologies used by the Class 1’s as the evidence they colluded with each other. Personally; I never viewed the fact that most railroads used the EIA national average diesel price as anything more than they had to use something and that index made as much sense as any other. In other words; each of them kind of defaulted to using that index on their own.

    Now; the above story refers to “an extraordinary series of meetings, phone calls and email communication”. This kind of information wound be “discoverable” if it exists so; time will tell whether people behind the scenes at the Class 1’s had a colossal moment of group stupidity or if the plaintiffs are simply blowing smoke.

    In any event; this will be fun to watch!

  4. The railroads should have dropped the fuel surcharges as soon as fuel prices dropped. Then there would be no lawsuits. From my laypersons understanding, fuel surcharges persisted a long time after the last big fuel price spike.

  5. OH, boo hoo! Illinois just raised the tax by 19 cents. We will never see that money used for the roads. It will probably be used to feed the CTU in Chicago. Unions do that.

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