Litigation SupportLitigation Support for Transportation Law Firms, Shippers, and Carriers
Leading-Edge Solutions Since 1996
Highroad consultants have prepared and presented expert testimony on behalf of shippers and carriers in courts and before regulatory agencies, including the United States Surface Transportation Board (STB) and its predecessor agency, the Interstate Commerce Commission. One of many high profile cases was the STB hearing on railroad fuel charges. In 2003 Highroad released a white paper with cost evidence that proved the railroads were over-recovering with their fuel surcharge programs. Highroad’s study was featured in Traffic World magazine, and shippers pressed Congress and the STB to investigate the surcharges. STB initiated a hearing; Mrs. Dearden testified on behalf of four shippers and presented cost evidence that revealed that surcharges were four to five times higher than the total cost of fuel in the lanes analyzed. In its decision the STB ruled that the fuel surcharges constituted an unreasonable practice and ordered the railroads to change their surcharge programs on regulated traffic to reflect actual fuel cost increases.
For additional information regarding Highroad’s experience in the litigation arena, call 219-838-3800.
Trackage Rights Fees
STB Finance Docket 35063, Michigan Central Railway, LLC – Acquisition and Operation Exemption – Lines of Norfolk Southern Railway Company. The Watco case was a high profile case before the STB in 2007. Watco Companies, Inc., filed a notice of exemption to continue in control of MCR upon MCR’s becoming a rail carrier through its proposed acquisition and operation of 299 miles of track owned and operated by Norfolk Southern. Highroad presented testimony on behalf of Marquette Rail which was opposing the transaction. Under the proposed plan, Marquette Rail would have been required to pay a trackage right fee to deliver cars for interchange at NS’s yard in Elkhart, IN. Client asked Highroad to perform an analysis of the proposed trackage rights charge. The Highroad team developed rail operating costs and presented testimony that based on the consultants’ prior experience with haulage and trackage rights fees, the proposed fee was excessive. The Board denied Norfolk Southern’s application for Watco to assume operation of its lines in Michigan.
Rail Abandonment Case
HIGHROAD reviewed financial data presented by Burlington Northern Santa Fe, STB Docket No. AB-6 (Sub-No. 382X), Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company Abandonment within the city limits of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois. HIGHROAD’s consultant, representing three clients opposing the abandonment, prepared a verified statement noting errors in the BNSF filing, and the abandonment was denied.
Stand-Alone Rate Case
Mrs. Dearden directed and led a team of HIGHROAD consultants that developed an organization plan to staff the stand-alone railroad and submitted rebuttal testimony for the complaintant shipper, Wisconsin Power & Light, in a stand-alone rate case against the Union Pacific Railroad, STB Finance Docket No. 42051, Wisconsin Power and Light Company v. Union Pacific Railroad, Defendant. The Surface Transportation Board found that the defendant railroad had market dominance and that the challenged rates were too high. Maximum reasonable rates were prescribed and reparations were ordered. Union Pacific appealed the decision, which was upheld in the court of appeals.
Canadian National Adverse Abandonment
STB Finance Docket No. AB-279 (Sub. No. 3), Canadian National Railway Company Adverse Discontinuance, Line of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd. in Aroostook County, Maine. Mrs. Dearden coordinated development of testimony for three expert witnesses who submitted rebuttal testimony on behalf of Canadian National Railroad, protesting the application of the Trustee for the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad for the adverse discontinuance of CNR trackage rights and haulage rights, and adverse abandonment of Waterloo Railroad’s freight easement on the MMA. HIGHROAD consultants’ testimony focused on the market plan, and the projected cost impact on rail operations as presented by the Trustee. The STB ruled in favor of Canadian National.