Air Cargo Newsdesk

Air cargo price-fixing case goes to trial in NY in 2016

Forwarders pay $197m for ‘price-fixing’

AIR CARGO customers who purchased freight forwarding/logistics services to, from, or within the USA between January 1, 2001 and September 14, 2012 may be in line for a substantial payment from a class-action settlement fund of US$197.6 million.

A US court says that a group of forwarders, in violation of antitrust laws, conspired to fix prices for their services during that period.

It is alleged the conspiracies were worldwide, including on routes between the United States and China, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.

Some of the defendants (see list, below) have agreed to settlements in the lawsuit. They have denied any wrongdoing, but have agreed to settle the class-action lawsuit to avoid the cost and risk of trial.

The US court has already approved 10 settlements, under which the settling defendants have agreed to pay a minimum of $105 million.

A second round of settlements, totaling more than $197.6 million, has been presented to the court for approval.

The money from both rounds of settlements will be put into a fund that will be distributed on a pro rata basis to claimants, who have around 30 weeks from now to lodge a claim.

The claims administration deadline for the first round of settlements is set as August 24, 2015 and the deadline for a second round of settlements is March 31, 2016.

The original case – Precision Associates v Panalpina World Transport – was first filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Most defendants listed have already agreed to settlements in a subsequent, expanded legal investigation into the allegations.

They are:

ABX Logistics Worldwide; EGL; Expeditors; Kuehne + Nagel; Nishi-Nippon; Schenker and its parents, subsidiaries and affiliates including Deutsche Bahn, Schenker, and Bax Global; Morrison Express; United Aircargo Consolidators; UTi Worldwide; Vantec; Toll; Panalpina; Geodis; DSV; Jet-Speed; SDV; Agility/Geologistics; Dachser; Deutsche Post; Danzas Corporation (doing business as DHL Global Forwarding); DHL as in DHL Express (USA), DHL Global Forwarding Japan, DHL Japan, Exel Global Logistics and AEI USA; and the following Japan-based companies grouped in one settlement: Hankyu Hanshin Express and its US subsidiary Hanshin Air Cargo USA, and Japan Aircargo Forwarders Association; Kintetsu; K Line; MOL Logistics; Nippon Express; Nissin; Yamato; Yusen Air & Sea Service; Jet Speed; and United Parcel Service.

Under the terms of the class-action settlement, the term ‘freight forwarding services’ is defined as freight forwarding, transportation, or logistics services for shipments, and includes services relating to the organisation or transportation of items via air and ocean, which may include ancillary rail and truck services, both nationally and internationally, as well as related activities such as Customs clearance, warehousing, and ground services.

Proof of Purchase

Although the claim form (www.FreightForwardCase.com) does not specify the type of documentation required for filing a claim, “class members should keep all documents they believe may help the claims administrator determine the amount owed,” says an advisory note.

If class members cannot submit detailed information, they can instead, under penalty of perjury, proffer an explanation of why they are unable to submit documentation and provide an estimated amount.

The court has advised claimants: “If you have already submitted a claim (postmarked no later than August 24, 2015) for the first round settlements, you do not need to file a claim for the second round settlements.

“However, if you did not file a claim for the first round, you may file a claim for the second, postmarked no later than March 31, 2016.”

Law firms handling the case are listed as Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP; Gustafson Gluek PLLC; Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP; and Lovell Stewart Halebian Jacobson LLP.

Claimants may submit a claim form online, or by mail, by March 31, 2016 to get a payment from the settlements. Those who do nothing will not get a payment and will give up the right to sue, says the court.

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