51 F.3d 297 (D.C. Cir. 1995), 94-1032, National Motor Freight Traffic Ass'n v. I.C.C.

Docket Nº:94-1032.
Citation:51 F.3d 297
Party Name:Fed. Carr. Cas. P 83,981, NATIONAL MOTOR FREIGHT TRAFFIC ASSOCIATION, and National Classification Committee, Petitioners, v. INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION, and the United States of America, Respondents, Mallinckrodt Specialty Chemicals Company, et al., National Small Shipments Traffic Conference, Inc., Health and Personal Care Distribution Confere
Case Date:April 11, 1995
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
 
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Page 297

51 F.3d 297 (D.C. Cir. 1995)

Fed. Carr. Cas. P 83,981,

NATIONAL MOTOR FREIGHT TRAFFIC ASSOCIATION, and National

Classification Committee, Petitioners,

v.

INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION, and the United States of

America, Respondents,

Mallinckrodt Specialty Chemicals Company, et al., National

Small Shipments Traffic Conference, Inc., Health and

Personal Care Distribution Conference, Inc., and National

Industrial Transportation League, Intervenors.

No. 94-1032.

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

April 11, 1995

Argued Feb. 22, 1995.

Page 298

John R. Bagileo, argued the cause, for petitioners. With him on the briefs, was William W. Pugh.

Craig M. Keats, Associate Gen. Counsel, I.C.C., argued the cause, for respondents. With him on the brief were Henri F. Rush, Gen. Counsel, ICC, Anne K. Bingaman, Asst. Atty. Gen., John P. Fonte, and Robert B. Nicholson, Attys., U.S. Dept. of Justice. Judith A. Albert, Atty., I.C.C., entered an appearance.

On the joint brief of intervenors, were Daniel J. Sweeney for Mallinckrodt Specialty Chemicals Co., et al., Nicholas J. DiMichael, Richard D. Fortin, and Michael Kane, for National Indus. Transp. League.

Before EDWARDS, Chief Judge, GINSBURG and HENDERSON, Circuit Judges.

GINSBURG, Circuit Judge:

The National Motor Freight Traffic Association, Inc. and the National Classification Committee of the NMFTA petition for review of two orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission cancelling the petitioners' proposed "class rate" tariff. Because the ICC used a standard that is insupportable in light of other decisions it has made, we grant the petition for review and remand the matter to the Commission.

I. Background

A motor carrier subject to the jurisdiction of the ICC is required to establish and file with the Commission a tariff showing the rates it will charge for transportation. 49 U.S.C. Secs. 10702, 10761, 10762. Rather than file an individual tariff for every transported commodity, carriers often use a so-called class rate tariff, which sets forth the rate for transportation of a commodity based upon its "classification rating."

A classification rating is a number between 50 and 500 that is meant to reflect the "transportability" of a commodity. In general, the higher the number, the more difficult--and hence more expensive--it is to transport the commodity. The Commission evaluates the classification rating of a particular commodity upon the basis of four factors: (1) density, expressed as weight per cubic foot; (2) stowability, that is, the ease of loading and unloading; (3) handling, including any special care that must be used or conditions that must be maintained; and (4)

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liability, the potential for damage to, or damage caused by, the commodity.

The classification rating of a commodity is published in a "classification tariff." While any carrier may file one, the most widely used classification tariff is the National Motor Freight Classification Tariff (NMFCT), which the petitioners publish pursuant a "rate bureau agreement." See 49 U.S.C. Sec. 10706(b)(2) (exempting such collective rate setting from antitrust laws).

The Commission, upon its own initiative or upon "application of an interested party," may investigate the...

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