“Filed rate” doctrine preempts misrepresentation claim about pipeline service

“The court subordinated the equities of a particular situation to the overmastering need for certainty in the transactions of commercial life.”  Benjamin Cardozo, The Growth of the Law 111 (1924).  In Medco Energi US, LLC v. Sea Robin Pipeline Co., the plaintiff — a natural gas producer — argued that the defendant pipeline company had misrepresented how long it would take to make repairs after Hurricane Ike.  No. 12-30791 (July 2, 2013).  The Fifth Circuit found this claim preempted by federal law under the “filed rate” doctrine, under which a rate filed with FERC is conclusive “[e]ven if a rate is misrepresented to a customer and the customer relies on that rate . . . .”  (citing AT&T v. Central Office Telephone, 524 U.S. 214 (1988).  Otherwise, “[b]ecause [plaintiff] only paid for interruptible service subject to these provisions, allowing recovery for damages incurred when it could not use [defendant’s] pipeline would conflict with the interruptible rate and the provisions of the [filed] tariff.”


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