Not better than never

Q Atlanta Motor Lines ceased operations more than five years ago. Over the past year, we have received increasingly strident demands for payment of undercharge claims from a post-audit firm, which sent legal-sounding demands. Now they have found a lawyer who threatens to sue within a week unless we pay. Do we have any liability?

A No, you don’t. For most of us, the undercharge fiasco is just a bad memory, but this is not the first instance of legal-sounding demands for time-barred undercharge claims.

Both the collection agency and the attorney in the situation you mention have been repeatedly told that the statute of limitations has run out on these claims. Congress inserted two provisions to deal with the undercharge situation that apply here. Under the Six-Month Rule, a carrier or a shipper has 180 days after the initial invoice to notify the other party in writing that the amount initially billed and/or collected is incorrect. (See 49 U.S.C.