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Shapiro, Lewis, Appleton & Favaloro
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Norfolk Southern Railroad sued over rail rates

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An anti-trust lawsuit has been filed against Norfolk Southern Railway Company alleging that the Norfolk, Virginia (VA) based railroad and 4 major rail carriers conspired to price gouge.

The Federal Government’s Surface Transportation Board regulates the rates that major railroads charge to their customers. This lawsuit accuses Norfolk Southern of conspiring to set prices especially gas surcharges by improperly fixing the prices in conjunction with other major rail carriers like CSX Transportation, the other major east coast rail carrier.

As a plaintiff side injury lawyer who routinely sues Norfolk Southern and CSX, as well as Amtrak, on behalf their employees when they get hurt on the job, it does not surprise me that this lawsuit alleges a conspiracy among major U.S. railroads. When we handle Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) cases on behalf of railroad employees it often appears that the railroads have gotten together at industry meetings and organized concerted joint effort to deprive these workers of fair compensation on their claims of injury and wrongful death as a result of the railroads’ negligence. For example, all of the major railroad companies across the U.S. use a legal trick whereby they create a sham vocational rehabilitation department within the railroad. The alleged purpose of the vocational rehabilitation department is to offer services to railroad workers who are hurt to help them get back gainful employment on the railroad or elsewhere. However, these programs were set up by the railroad legal departments, who are fighting against the claims of the workers, not in any way which shows any independence from the railroads’ own lawyers and claims agents. As a plaintiff’s lawyer from Norfolk, Virginia (VA) representing railroad workers in FELA cases, I believe that the purpose of the vocation rehabilitation departments at Norfolk Southern and CSX are merely to have another weapon to use against the injured claimant in these cases. The railroads try to make the worker look bad for not participating in their so-called program. What happens in the program, however, is that the railroads send the worker to doctors and vocational experts of the railroad’s choosing, who will say that the worker is not really as hurt as he claims. I believe that this kind of manipulation by the major railroads of the court system was likely brainstormed and agreed upon at industry meetings. When I see all the railroads like Norfolk Southern and CSX doing exactly the same thing in FELA cases, it doesn’t surprise me that they have also agreed to do exactly the same thing in terms of getting financial advantage over their customers as well.