Bloomberg News

Buffett’s BNSF, Union Pacific Sued by Oxbow Over Pricing

June 07, 2011

(Updates with lawsuit allegations in second paragraph.)

June 7 (Bloomberg) -- Warren Buffett’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Co. and Union Pacific Railroad Co. were sued by Oxbow Carbon & Minerals LLC over claims they conspired to drive up costs for shipping coal and other products.

Oxbow, which mines and markets coal and natural gas, said the railroads have since at least 2003 conspired and colluded with other rail companies to fend off competition for freight services, increasing transportation costs that are ultimately passed on to businesses and consumers, according to the price- fixing complaint filed today in federal court in Washington.

Closely held Oxbow, founded by William Koch, son of the founder of Koch Industries Inc., seeks a judgment that the railroads are violating federal antitrust laws and should pay unspecified triple damages for freight overcharges, according to the complaint. Oxbow is based in West Palm Beach, Florida.

“BNSF has not colluded or conspired in violation of any law,” Steve Forsberg, a spokesman for Fort Worth, Texas-based Burlington Northern, said in an e-mail. “We will respond through the legal process after we have had an opportunity to fully review the complaint.”

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., based in Omaha, Nebraska, bought Burlington Northern last year.

Tom Lange, a spokesman for Omaha-based Union Pacific, said the company hasn’t seen the complaint yet and declined to comment.

The case is Oxbow v. Union Pacific, 11-01049, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington)

--Editors: Michael Hytha, Stephen Farr

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco federal court at kgullo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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