DB Schenker’s air cargo cartel suit broadens

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German freight forwarder DB Schenker, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn, is being joined by additional plaintiffs in its civil lawsuit against air cargo carriers to recover damages allegedly caused by global price-fixing of surcharges from 1999 to 2006.

A report published in German weekly business news magazine, Wirtschaftswoche, stated that engineering and electronics firm Robert Bosch, and forwarding and logistics companies Kuehne + Nagel and Panalpina, have joined in the German suit, which names 13 airlines as defendants. DB Schenker had filed a separate but similar civil suit on Dec. 1, 2014 – the same day as the German action – in the U.S. court system.

The addition of the new plaintiffs brings the total claim for damages in Germany to €2 billion, with an additional €900 million sought for interest payments. The German suit originally claimed US$2.2 billion and included Air Canada, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Cargolux, Japan Airlines, LAN, Lufthansa, Qantas, SAS, Singapore Airlines and Swill Airlines as plaintiffs. Schenker has since dismissed SAS from the suit.

The U.S. suit, with claims totaling about US$370 million, named Air France, All Nippon Airways, Cargolux, KLM, Martinair, Qantas and SAS. The U.S. Department of Justice charged all seven with violating antitrust laws by fixing fuel and security surcharges. Deutsche Bahn has said that the court could award triple damages, which would bring the U.S. total to $1.1 billion.

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