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FMC Assigns ATA Complaint to Chief Judge Wirth

The Federal Maritime Commission has ordered Chief Administrative Law Judge Erin M. Wirth to preside over the proceeding on the complaint filed by Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference (IMCC) of the American Trucking Associations against Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association Inc. (OCEMA), et al. IMCC, in its 43-page complaint filed Aug. 17 with the FMC, alleged that OCEMA and 12 other respondents ‘‘have adopted and imposed unjust and unreasonable regulations and engaged in unjust and unreasonable 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, all in violation of 46 U.S.C. 41102(c).’’ "For more than a decade, these foreign-owned companies have worked together to take advantage of hard-working American trucking companies," said Bill Sullivan, ATA's executive vice president for advocacy in a press release. "By denying truckers choice of equipment providers at port and inland locations, these unscrupulous companies have been forcing American truckers and American consumers to subsidize their costs to the tune of nearly $1.8 billion—over the last three years alone." But OCEMA's executive director and general counsel Jeffrey Lawrence called the complaint "misguided" in his interview with Transport Tropics. Mr. Lawrence explained that chassis leasing companies, not ocean carriers, manage chassis. In the United States, between 400,000 and 500,000 chassis are used in the haulage of international containers. Mr. Lawrence said that IMCC is using its complaint "for a business strategy purpose, to improve their market position.” It's not true, Mr. Lawrence said, that motor carriers have no choice. He told Supply Chain Dive that "truckers can bring their own chassis at all CCM locations. [Ocean] carriers overwhelmingly let motor carriers bring their own equipment and choose alternate vendors that CCM pools uniqueness make available." The FMC is awaiting the formal answer of OCEMA et al., after which the parties are expected to confer and agree to a discovery schedule and to consider mediation to resolve the dispute. The initial decision is expected to be issued by August 24, 2021, and the final decision of the Commission will be issued by March 10, 2022. 

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