OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – A federal judge has ruled that details of talks between the country’s four largest railways should be included in lawsuits that challenge past railways to billions of dollars.
The ruling on Friday softened one of the defenses of Union Pacific, BNSF, CSX and Norfolk Southern. The lawsuit alleges that the railways conspired to raise prices since 2003 by imposing systematic fuel surcharges and embezzling billions of dollars in profits.
The major railways did not immediately respond to questions on Monday.
Price fixing charges have been pending in US courts for more than a decade since 2007 when several companies filed such lawsuits for the first time. The cases are being handled individually after an appellate judge ruled last year that the case did not fit into the class. – validity status for up to 16,000 carriers affected by rates.
The plaintiffs, which include cars like Hyundai, a number of manufacturers such as Campbell Soup and energy companies like Dominion Energy, say the four railways had meetings, phone calls and e-communications. through which they began to conspire to make fuel surcharges for profit throughout the journey.
One of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Steven Neuwirth, said he was glad the details of the allegations could be released during the trial.
“This evidence confirms that for at least five years, railroads violated U.S. law by coordinating fuel surcharges as a means of raising rail freight rates,” Neuwirth said.
In lawsuits, the railways claimed that their fuel surcharges were legal, they were simply intended to offset rising fuel prices at the time.
The Railways also argued that an incomprehensible law allowing railways to discuss freight rates across multiple railways should have protected their talk of rates, but a judge on Friday rejected that argument.
In 1980, Congress mainly regulated railways. This led to a number of consolidations in the industry, which led to the four major rail freight companies currently operating. Norfolk South և CSX և Eastern United States և BNSF և Union Pacific serves most of the West.
Although the companies are individual entities, they are legally allowed to work together to some extent to ensure the continuity of the country’s rail network.