RAILROADS (RATES & CLASS CERTIFICATION) / U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned the decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that had granted class certification that could involve as many as 30,000 shippers (Journal of Commerce estimate) in a lawsuit against CSX Transportation, BNSF, Union Pacific Railroad, and the Norfolk Southern Railroad to recover damages on what plaintiffs contend was a price-fixing conspiracy relating to rate-based fuel surcharges on rail shipments on the four defendant railroads.

In a unanimous opinion by for the three-judge panel by Judge Janice Rogers Brown, the court sent the litigation back to the district court with instructions to reconsider the class certification issue in light of the U.S. Supreme Court precedent of Comcast v. Behrens.

In re: Rail Freight Fuel Surcharge Antitrust Litigation, No. 12-7085 (U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, August 9, 2013). Copy of court-provided opinion available here.

RAILROAD & RAIL PRICING / Federal freight rate governance of Class I railroads’ pricing for the Quarter: The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has approved the Association of American Railroads’ (AAR’s) proposed rebasing calculations and the rebased first quarter 2013 rail cost adjustment factor (RCAF) and cost index filed by the AAR.

The RCAF mandate pursuant to which this “Rail cost adjustment factor” is issued is one reason why the reforms of the Staggers Act of 1980 constitute “de-regulation” only by comparison to the more strict Interstate Commerce Commission regulation of freight rates that prevailed before that statute. 

Pursuant to federal statute (49 U.S.C. § 10708) the U.S. STB is required to publish the “Rail cost adjustment factor” no less frequently than each quarter. This “factor” is a fraction whose numerator is “the latest published Index of Railroad Costs … and the denominator of which is the same index for the fourth quarter of every fifth year ….” 

Who is affected?  Those who operate Class I railroad carriers and those who ship on Class I railroad carriers.

(December 26, 2012, Approval of Rail Cost Adjustment Factor ):  Continue reading