Chemical Carriers Face New Class Action - TradeWinds Today - May 28, 2003

Chemical Carriers Face New Class Action
TradeWinds Today
May 28, 2003

A Chicago-based law firm is actively searching out wronged shippers in a bid to mount a second lawsuit against Stolt-Nielson, Odfjell, Jo Tankers and Tokyo Marine for alleged price-fixing.

Kenneth B Moll & Associates is looking for shippers that may have purchased services from any of the four companies since June 1998 to see if they are interested in participating in a new class-action suit.

'A lot of potential plaintiffs don't even know about these allegations,' said Kenneth B. Moll lawyer, Michael O'Meara.

The case could stretch not only to those companies that bought direct services from Stolt etc., but also to those who purchased end products based on the cargos.

Kenneth B Moll & Associates is advertising the drive on the internet.

'We are conducting an investigation...The purpose is to inform purchases of transportation services of specialty liquids that they may have overpaid due to antitrust violations,' it said.

O'Meara says the number of shippers affected could run into thousands.

Widespread coverage of the Stolt case in the press meant it was highly likely to attract 'ambulance chasing' style lawyers, said one observer.

O'Meara says the firm got involved after receiving a number of calls from shippers.

Although Stolt has received immunity from prosecution by the European Commission and US Justice Department, it is still exposed to these private legal actions.

The three other companies face possible censure by both the lawsuits and the anti-trust authorities.

Kenneth B Moll & Associates says it will push for damages equal to three times the financial loss sustained by each of its plaintiffs.

The firm has yet to choose the location, or the so-called 'lead of the claim.

Two other class-action lawsuits are already proceeding in Connecticut, where Stotlt-Nielsen's US operations are headquartered.

The suits have been brought by US chemical company JLM Industries and US investor Joel Menckes.

Some or all of the cases are likely to be consolidated by the courts in the future.