The American Moving and Storage Association has asked two courts to dismiss antitrust class action lawsuits that accuse AMSA and several major van lines of acting illegally when they charged customers fuel surcharges over a four-year period. The two lawsuits were filed earlier this year in federal courts in South Carolina and Illinois; AMSA’s requests for dismissal were filed June 8.
The interstate moving industry has been using fuel surcharges since the 1970s with the permission of first the Interstate Commerce Commission and later, when the ICC was eliminated by Congress, the Surface Transportation Board. AMSA says it asked the courts to dismiss the lawsuits because the proper jurisdiction for determining whether the fuel surcharges have been reasonable lies with the STB, which was given that responsibility by Congress.
AMSA says as far as it is aware, all of the money that has been paid by moving customers for fuel surcharges is passed on directly to the owner-operators. “We are confident that our motions to dismiss these baseless lawsuits will prevail given the misguided and factually incorrect charges contained within these suits,” says Linda Bauer Darr, president and chief executive officer of AMSA. “When you look at the facts, it’s clear these lawsuits are without merit.”
Today’s fuel prices clearly demonstrate that fluctuations happen quickly and dramatically, Darr says. “That’s why the federal government created a fuel surcharge system more than 30 years ago and continues to oversee its implementation,” she says. “The government recognized that transportation providers need to account for fuel price spikes to survive, while also making sure that customers would benefit from price drops.”
Noting that STB is the appropriate forum for challenging the reasonableness of the fuel surcharge, Darr says, “The fact is anyone familiar with how these government-regulated surcharges are created and implemented will see that these lawsuits are simply unfounded.”