LTL carriers sued over surcharges

An irrigation and farm equipment supplier and its subsidiaries has filed a class-action lawsuit in federal district court in Southern California charging that the nation’s leading less-than-truckload carriers have conspired over the last four years or more to fix fuel surcharges on LTL shipments. Defendants in the litigation are Arkansas Best Corp., Averitt Express, Con-way, FedEx Corp., Jevic, Sun Capital Partners, New England Motor Freight, R+L Carriers, Saia, UPS and YRC Worldwide.

Farm Water Technological Services, doing business as Water Tech, and its subsidiary CBJT, doing business as Agricultural Supply, contend that “beginning in 2003, defendants, facing drastically increased fuel costs and the likelihood of lower profits, have evaded this basic economic law by collusively imposing on their customers what are claimed to be ‘fuel surcharges,’ but which in fact bear little relation to the increase in their fuel costs.”

In the suit, filed in late July, the plaintiffs charge that the carriers agreed to impose “identical or nearly identical” surcharges by linking them to diesel fuel prices published by the U.S. Department of Energy and by listing surcharges on their websites to communicate pricing.

The plaintiffs and carriers agreed to set Oct. 31 as the date for the carriers’ response to the complaint.