Ocean carrier group seeks dray truckers’ chassis complaint dismissal

Federal Maritime Commission

A group of ocean carriers that has been accused of abusing its commercial position in how it secures container chassis wants a complaint brought before the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) dismissed.

The American Trucking Associations’ Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference (IMCC) alleged in its Aug. 17 complaint to the FMC that the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association (OCEMA) and its 10 carrier members use “unjust and unreasonable” chassis provision model practices by “requiring the use of OCEMA member default chassis providers and denying motor carriers their right to select the chassis provider for merchant haulage movements.”

The trucking group said these actions violate the 1984 Shipping Act.

IMCC has also alleged that ocean carriers’ actions have cost the dray trucking industry up to $1.8 billion in overcharges for chassis use over the past three years.

On Aug. 28, the FMC assigned the complaint to its Office of Administrative Law Judges (ALJ).

OCEMA’s 30-page motion to dismiss the complaint, which it submitted to the FMC last Friday, said the IMCC “seeks a ruling that ocean carriers are not free to structure their relationships with shippers and chassis providers as they see fit, but are legally required to structure those relationships in a manner that maximizes benefits to motor carriers.”

The association said the FMC’s jurisdiction does not apply to domestic transportation activities between ocean carriers and truckers.

OCEMA was formed in 1990 by the ocean carriers to better manage chassis at high-traffic container ports and intermodal hubs. In 2006, OCEMA developed Consolidated Chassis Management (CCM) to adopt regional equipment pools to give truckers “freedom of chassis choice.”

The IMCC had hoped to avoid legal action by sending a cease-and-desist letter to OCEMA and to the ocean carriers in May. The trucking group said OCEMA failed to address the alleged violations.

The IMCC has 15 days to provide a response to the OCEMA motion if it wishes to do so. If the IMCC does respond to OCEMA’s motion to dismiss, OCEMA then has seven days to respond to that filing.

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Click for more FreightWaves/American Shipper articles by Chris Gillis.