By Andrew Longstreth
Feb 27 (Reuters) - BNSF Railway Company and Union Pacific
Railroad Company have won a ruling dismissing a lawsuit accusing
them of engaging in price-fixing and other antitrust violations
in the shipment of coal and other freight.
The case was filed in Washington federal court in 2011 by a
group of six related companies in the coal and petroleum coke
business, including Oxbow Carbon & Minerals LLC and Oxbow Mining
In dismissing the lawsuit on Tuesday, Judge Paul Friedman
ruled that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring some claims
and had not provided enough details for others.
Friedman dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice, so the
plaintiffs may file an amended complaint.
A spokesman for Oxbow declined to comment.
The lawsuit accused BNSF and Union Pacific of engaging in
price-fixing by adopting a common fuel surcharge. But Friedman
found that the lawsuit had not provided enough facts about the
alleged harm to each individual plaintiff needed to establish
The judge wrote that he could not "identify within the
Complaint the basic facts to support an inference that each
plaintiff was harmed by the imposition of any surcharge."
Friedman also found lacking the lawsuit's claim that Union
Pacific and BNSF conspired to monopolize certain markets for
rail freight transportation. The judge found that if the
plaintiffs were alleging that the defendants conspired to share
monopoly power, that claim was not allowed under antitrust law.
"To the extent that plaintiffs have alleged a market
structure in which UP and BNSF each possess and seek to protect
market power within the same markets, their monopoly claims
based on an alleged agreement to monopolize must fail," Friedman
The judge also wrote that if the plaintiffs were alleging
that the two companies conspired to allocate an entire market to
Union Pacific, "they failed to do so with the requisite
A spokesman for BNSF said, "We continue to study the
opinion, but we are generally pleased with the court's findings
Union Pacific did not immediately return a call seeking
The case is Oxbow Carbon & Minerals LLC v. Union Pacific
Railroad Company, U.S. District Court for the District of
For Oxbow Carbon & Minerals: David Boies of Boies, Schiller
& Flexner and Barry Brett of Troutman Sanders.
For Union Pacific Railroad: John Majoras of Jones Day and
Alan Wiseman of Covington & Burling.
For BNSF: Richard Favretto of Mayer Brown and Bradley
Phillips of Munger, Tolles & Olson.
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