Sea Star Line, Crowley Liner Services and their parent companies have been hit with a second civil antitrust lawsuit by shippers that opted out of a class action settlement for carrier price-fixing in the Puerto Rico trade.
The lawsuit by Kraft Foods and Kellogg Co. was filed in U.S. District Court in Charleston, S.C. The suit tracks similar allegations in a lawsuit filed in the same court by 37 Sea Star and Crowley customers. Both lawsuits seek treble damages.
The lawsuits include detailed allegations (PDF) about a price-fixing conspiracy that came to light four years ago after federal agents raided offices of Sea Star, Crowley and Horizon Lines.
A federal criminal investigation has produced guilty pleas by Horizon, Sea Star and five of their former executives. Horizon, Sea Star and Crowley agreed to pay a total of $52.25 million to settle a class action civil antitrust lawsuit by customers, and $5 million to settle claims by indirect customers.
Numerous shippers opted out of the class action settlement, leaving them free to sue the carriers individually. Horizon reached settlements with the opt-out shippers and is not a defendant in the latest lawsuits.
Defendants in the Kraft-Kellogg lawsuit are Sea Star, its majority owner Saltchuk Resources, Crowley Liner Services and its parent, Crowley Maritime Corp., and Leonard Shapiro, a former Saltchuk director.