NON-VESSEL OPERATORS FILE SUIT OVER CURBS

NON-VESSEL OPERATORS FILE SUIT OVER CURBS

Seven non-vessel-operating common carriers, known as NVOs, are seeking $25 million in damages from the New York Shipping Association, a number of ocean carriers and others for allegedly unlawfully restricting their operations

because the NVOs are within 50 miles of Atlantic and Gulf ports.

The restrictions came as a result of an agreement between ocean carriers and the International Longshoremen's Association. That agreement requires that the ILA pack and unpack ocean containers within 50 miles of any port.A challenge to that agreement is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals here.

The NVOs claim that since 1981 the carriers and shipping groups named have refused:

* To supply or make available containers, trailers and other equipment to the NVOs, while at the same time supplying such equipment to other shippers and other persons.

* To accept NVO bookings or confirm space allocations or accommodations on NVO vessels, but do so for others.

* To load, strip and stuff, in a timely fashion, NVO containers and trailers, while handling those of other clients expeditiously.

* To deliver, uninterrupted, undelayed, unstripped and unrestuffed, NVO import containers and trailers, while handling others without such alleged interruptions.

The associations and their members were accused of having engaged in unfair and/or unjustly discriminatory practices, of giving undue and/or unreasonable preferences or advantages, of subjecting particular persons and/ or descriptions of traffic to an unreasonable refusal to deal, and of failing to establish, observe and enforce just and reasonable regulations and practices.

The result of these alleged violations of the 1984 Shipping Act and other shipping statutes has been increased expenses, loss of revenue, business, customers, good will, credit standing and loss of profit to the NVOs, the petition added, with the deliberate aim of driving complainants out of the consolidation business within the 50-mile zone of East and Gulf Coast Ports..

The NVOs want the commission to order the carriers to pay the NVOs $25 million in damages.

Litigation has dogged the ILA's continued attempts since the 1950s to preserve jobs on the docks by various agreements to cope with containerizatio n.

The case in the U.S. Court of Appeals is an effort by the ILA and the New York Shipping Association to reverse a decision by the FMC - its second - that the 50-mile rule, because it is in carriers' tariffs, violates the 1984 Shipping Act.

The NVOs bringing the action are: Direct Container Line Inc., Gardena, Calif.; Liberty Intermodal Inc., Secaucus, N.J.; Audnel America International, Charlotte, N.C.; Votainer Consolidated Services (Southwest) Inc., Houston; Boston Consolidation Service Inc., South Boston, Mass.; APA Transport Corp., North Beyen, N.J.; and Sea Cargo International Inc., Bensenville, Ill.

Named as respondents in the action were: the New York Shipping Association, New York City; the Council of North Atlantic Shipping Associations; the Southeast Florida Employers Port Association, Miami; Atlantic Container Line, New York City; Dart Containerline, New York City; Hapag-Lloyd, New York City; Puerto Rico Maritime Shipping Authority, San Juan, Puerto Rico; Sea-Land Service Inc., Menlo Park, N.J.; Trans Freight Lines, Wayne, N.J.; United States Lines, Cranford, N.J.; the West Gulf Maritime Association; and the Mobile Steamship Association, Mobile, Ala.

The case (Docket 88-14) was assigned to Law Judge Norman D. Kline.