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Horizon Lines Settles Remaining Claims In Shipping Antitrust Action

Posted  December 14, 2011

Horizon Lines Inc., one of the largest ocean shipping companies in the United States, has entered into a $13.75 million settlement agreement with a group of shippers who had opted out of a class action against the company.

The shippers alleged that Horizon entered into a conspiracy with other carriers, including Sea Star Line, Crowley Maritime Corp. and Trailer Bridge Inc., to fix prices by increasing their rates to supracompetitive levels and by uniformly setting fuel surcharges for freight services between Puerto Rico and the U.S., which are largely controlled by the defendant carriers.

The case is In re: Puerto Rican Cabotage Antitrust Litigation, which was filed in 2008 in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.

Judge Daniel Dominguez dismissed the claims against Trailer Bridge, holding there was no evidence that it was involved in the price fixing conspiracy.  Horizon and the remaining carriers entered into a settlement with the class in 2009 for $52.25 million, which received final approval in September 2011.

Several other shippers that had opted out of the class, including Home Depot and Wal-Mart, settled with Horizon earlier this year.

The settlement follows years of civil and criminal litigation.  In February, Horizon pled guilty to conspiring to fix prices and agreed to pay a $45 million fine which was lowered to $15 million to save the company from bankruptcy.  Sea Star agreed to pay a $14.2 million criminal fine in November.  Two former executives of Sea Star and three from Horizon also incurred fines and prison sentences.

Tagged in: Antitrust Litigation, Price Fixing,