Crowley Liner Services, Inc. (Crowley) has entered into a settlement agreement with the plaintiffs in the Puerto Rican Cabotage Antitrust Litigation.
Although the company specifically denied violating the antitrust laws, it agreed to the settlement given the high cost and burden of litigation, which is expected to continue for several more years.
Following the announcement in April 2008 of a government investigation of pricing practices of ocean carriers operating in the Puerto Rico trade, several class action lawsuits were filed against Crowley and other domestic ocean liner carriers on behalf of those who directly purchased domestic ocean shipping services in the Puerto Rico tradelane between 2002 and 2008. Those lawsuits were consolidated into a single multidistrict litigation proceeding in the United States District Court for Puerto Rico. The complaints allege violations of U.S. and Puerto Rican antitrust laws and seek treble damages.
"This was a business decision to put the matter behind us as quickly as possible," said Michael Roberts, Crowley senior vice president and general counsel. "We simply felt that it was in the best interests of our company, and our customers, to move beyond this dispute."
The company noted the adverse affect the litigation has had both on managing the business in this very challenging economic climate, as well as on making strategic investments to improve services to customers in the trade.
Court approval of the settlement will be sought within the next several days. Following preliminary approval by the Court, notice forms will be sent to all shippers. Final Court approval will be required after the forms have been received.