September 6, 2011

Federal Judge Red Lights Truck Rental Price-Fixing Case Against U-Haul

A federal judge in Massachusetts has dismissed a putative class action that claimed that U-Haul International Inc. and its parent company, Amerco engaged in a truck rental price-fixing scheme.

The plaintiff in Liu v. Amerco alleged that U-Haul and Amerco engaged in an unfair or deceptive act in violation of Massachusetts law, and caused prices for truck rentals to rise, by inviting competitor Avis Budget Group Inc. to collude on prices

In dismissing the class action, Judge George A. O’Toole of the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts held that the complaint did not adequately assert an injury to the named plaintiff, who alleged she paid more for truck rentals as a result of the defendants’ alleged invitation to fix prices.

Judge O’Toole held that an allegation of illegal conduct increasing market prices is not enough, and that an actual showing of specific harm to the plaintiff is required.  According to the court, such a showing could be based on information on the rates paid by class members for one-way truck rentals as well as available competitor rates.

This lawsuit followed a 2010 settlement between U-Haul and the FTC based on allegations that U-Haul invited competitors to join a conspiracy which, if carried out, would have resulted in higher prices.  The settlement enjoined U-Haul from colluding or inviting collusion for a 20-year period.

Categories: Antitrust and Price Fixing, Antitrust Litigation

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