B.C.’s Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

B.C.’s Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Class-action lawsuit alleges conspiracy leading to British Columbians being overcharged for vehicles

The B.C. Appeal court certifies as a class-action proceeding litigation aimed at alleged price-fixing conspiracy

A class-action lawsuit seeking compensation related to an alleged price-fixing conspiracy that resulted in British Columbian being overcharged for vehicles has been given the green light to proceed from the Court of Appeal.

Justice Mary Saunders, in a May 29 judgment in Vancouver related to Darren Ewert versus Nippon Yusen Kaushiki Kaisha et al, overturned the decision of a lower court judge who declined to certify the litigation as class action under the Class Proceedings Act after finding Ewert’s expert failed to determine if data needed to assess if an overcharge had been passed through to indirect purchasers was available.

“I would allow the appeal in part and certify the action as a class proceeding in respect of the direct and indirect purchasers of the vehicle carrier services provided by the defendants during the class period,” Saunders decided, with Justices Harvey Groberman and John Hunter concurring.

The appeal court found that the lower court judge erred by imposing a standard to identify data that exceeded statutory requirements. The litigation centres on the allegation of a price-fixing conspiracy of marine shippers who bring automobiles and other vehicles across the oceans to Canada. Ewert claims this resulted in higher costs to himself and others who bought vehicles in B.C.

“To succeed in the litigation,” Saunders noted, “he will have to establish that the conspiracy existed, that it resulted in excess shipping charges, and that those charges were passed on to him and to others in a like position. He seeks to certify the action as a class action.”

READ ALSO: Court of appeal advances class action lawsuit in ICBC privacy violations case

The defendants are vehicle carriers that transport cars, trucks and other equipment by ocean to Canada, including Vancouver, using specialized cargo ships known as roll on/roll off vessels. Ewert claims that between Feb. 1, 1997 and Dec. 31, 2012 they made illegal price-fixing agreements that artificially inflated the price of transporting the vehicles.

“The plaintiff’s theory is that as a consequence of these price-fixing agreements, the cost of transporting these vehicles was artificially and unreasonably enhanced, and that the extra cost was passed on to purchasers of the vehicles resulting in an overcharge for those vehicles,” Saunders explained. “He seeks to bring a class proceeding to recover for himself and other similarly situated persons the loss caused by the alleged conspiracy, or a proportionate share of the benefits realized by the defendants as a result of the alleged conspiracy.”

The plaintiff also claims punitive damages.

Saunders noted Ewert has led evidence that all of the defendants “have pled guilty, sought amnesty or reached compromise agreements” in the U.S. and Japan “in repect of anti-competition wrongs arising from agreements relating to international shipping services to North America.”

There is a long list of defendants. They are Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, NYK Line Inc. (North America and Canada), Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., Mitsui O.S.K. Bulk Shipping (U.S.A.) Inc., Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd., “K” Line America Inc., Eukor Car Carriers Inc., Wilh. Wilhelmsen Logistics Americas LLC, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics AS, Wallenius Lines AB, WWL Vehicle Services Canada Ltd., Toyfuji Shipping Co. Ltd., Compania Sud Americana De Vapores S.A., CSAV Agency North America LLC, Nissan Motor Car Carrier Co. Ltd, World Logistics Service (USA) Inc., Hoegh Autoliners AS and Hoegh Autoliners Inc.

A dozen lawyers were heard in the appeal case.

The judge noted the “central issue” is whether Ewert has a “plausible methodology to prove that any excess charges were passed on to vehicle purchasers and not simply absorbed along the supply chain.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

Grade 12 students Sophia Kazakoff and Catherine Yuan accept QMS’s Stigma Free Designation award from Stigma-Free Society president, Andrea Paquette. (Submitted)
Duncan’s QMS earns ‘Stigma-Free’ designation

“No school in the province has accomplished what QMS did in such a short period of time”

“About a year after it was last used for a bottle drive, Lake Cowichan’s derelict Scout and Guide Hall came down Monday, June 6. Girl Guides have since moved into different churches and halls around the area. Town council has yet to decide what will be done with the now vacant town-owned site.” (Tyler Clarke/Lake Cowichan Gazette, June 8, 2011)
Flashback: A.B. Greenwell, Lady of the Lake, good and bad news for the Lake News

What was making headlines this week around Cowichan Lake in years gone by

Conner Gilkin, 5, shows of some of his newfound loot to buddy Jax Dul, 7, during the Lake Cowichan treasure hunt on Saturday, June 5. (Kevin Rothbauer/Gazette)
Weekly hunt has Lake Cowichan digging for treasure

Gold? Silver? Candy? Andrew Braye has stashed away a range of prizes for eager treasure hunters

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read