Chemical Tanker Owners Face Fresh Lawsuit - TradeWinds Today - June 4, 2003

Chemical Tanker Owners Face Fresh Lawsuit
TradeWinds Today
June 4, 2003

Another class-action lawsuit has been filed against the four chemical carriers at the centre of price-fixing allegations.

The US subsidiary of Russian shipper Nizhnekamskneftekhim has filed a new suit against Stolt-Nielsen, Odfjell, Tokyo Marine and Jo Tankers, alleging anti-trust violations.

The firm is seeking damages equal to three times losses.

Defendant Stolt-Nielsen said it intended to vigorously fight the latest action, on the grounds it has a contract to arbitrate all disputes with Nizhnekamskneftekhim.

It is mounting a similar defence in another action brought earlier this year by US shipper JLM Industries.

The case brings the number of class-action suits so far lodged against the chemical companies to three, with possibly more on the way.

At least one more civil suit is currently being prepared by a Chicago-based law firm, Kenneth B Moll & Associates.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim USA Inc filed its complaint in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas. It claims the carriers breached both the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Antitrust Act.

The firm is part of the Russian Nizhnekamskneftekhim oil and gas group, based in the Tatarstan region in central Russia.

All four chemical carriers are also under investigation by European and US anti-trust authorities, although Stolt-Nielsen has since been granted immunity from prosecution in return for co-operating with investigators.

US investor Joel Menkes and shipper JLM Industries also filed class-action lawsuits in the Connecticut courts earlier this year.