Car Industry

Hyundai and Kia file huge lawsuit against 4 biggest US railroads

The lawsuit alleges that BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific railroads levied egregious fuel surcharges for shipping between 2003 and 2007.

BNSF and the other three largest rail carriers in the US are being sued by Hyundai and Kia.

Joe Amon/Getty Images

Remember in There Will Be Blood when Daniel Plainview got all salty at the idea of paying the railroads to ship his oil, so he built a pipeline and killed a guy before he ever had to actually pay? 

Yeah, so Hyundai and Kia are kind of doing something similar, except only Elon Musk would come up with as bad an idea as a pipeline for cars. Instead, the Korean automakers are slapping the four largest railroad companies in the US with a lawsuit over fees that were charged between 2003 and 2007, according to a report published on Tuesday by Reuters.

The suit specifically alleges that BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific railroads tacked on a ton of fees for shipping services under the guise of "fuel recovery surcharges" that netted the companies billions of dollars in profits during the early-to-mid-aughts.

It's not clear exactly how much Hyundai and Kia paid to the railroads as a result of these fees, but we do know that the lawsuit is seeking triple damages, which, you know, is kind of intense. Hyundai and Kia filed the lawsuit near their US headquarters in Santa Ana, California. Hyundai owns just over a third of Kia, which is part of Hyundai Motor Group.

The suit is reliant on an independent study from way back in 2007 that found that the railroads' surcharges exceeded the actual cost of fuel by $6 billion. Despite racking our brains, we can't think of any other fees that seemed that unbelievably gougey -- even airline baggage fees and Ticketmaster surcharges.

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