The opinion of the court was delivered by: LOUIS F. OBERDORFER
Plaintiffs in this action are the Government of Guam and four Guam corporations that ship goods between Guam and the rest of the United States. Defendants are American President Lines, Ltd. (APL), and Sea-Land Service, Inc. (Sea-Land), the two United States ocean carriers that provide service to and from Guam. Plaintiffs challenge the defendants' shipping rates under the Shipping Act, 1916, 46 U.S.C. App. §§ 801-842, and the Intercoastal Shipping Act, 1933, 46 U.S.C. App. §§ 843-848. Currently pending before the Court are three motions: plaintiffs' motion to stay proceedings pending completion of parallel proceedings currently before the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC or Commission); defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; and plaintiffs' motion to maintain a class action and to certify the class. For the reasons stated below, the complaint will be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
In order to understand the posture of the present action, it is necessary to understand the parallel proceeding in the Commission. On December 7, 1989, the Government of Guam filed a complaint with the Commission. That complaint is virtually identical to the complaint in the instant case. Each complaint includes four counts. Counts I and II allege that both defendants charge Guam shippers unjust, unreasonable, and discriminatory rates in violation of sections 16 First, 17, and 18(a) of the Shipping Act, 46 U.S.C. App. §§ 815 First, 816, & 817(a), and section 2 of the Intercoastal Shipping Act, 46 U.S.C. App. § 844. Counts III and IV allege that defendant Sea-Land operates as a water common carrier without having a required tariff on file with the Commission,
and also that Sea-Land improperly charges varying rates for similarly situated shippers, in violation of sections 16 First and 17 of the Shipping Act, 46 U.S.C. App. §§ 815 First & 816, and section 2 of the Intercoastal Shipping Act, 46 U.S.C. App. § 844.
On March 9, 1990, an administrative law judge granted Guam leave to amend the Commission complaint to add four shippers as plaintiffs. Three of those shippers are among the plaintiffs in the present case. In the same ruling, the ALJ dismissed that portion of the complaint seeking reparations on behalf of all similarly situated Guam shippers under a parens patriae theory. In so ruling, the ALJ relied on Commission decisions holding that reparations may be awarded only to those who have actually paid unreasonable rates unless there has been a valid assignment from one with a legal right to reparations. The Commission proceeding is presently ongoing.
Plaintiffs' complaint was filed in this Court on March 10, 1992. Plaintiffs' asserted purpose in bringing this action in court is to "toll" the two-year statute of limitations for the numerous Guam shippers that have allegedly been injured by defendants' shipping rates. They have thus moved for certification of a class consisting of shippers and persons who have dispatched or received shipments into or out of Guam via the defendant carriers. At the same time, plaintiffs have moved for a stay of proceedings in this case pending the Commission's determination in the parallel administrative proceeding. Plaintiffs thus concede that the Commission has the task of resolving the merits of the dispute; they call on this Court essentially to preserve, and ultimately to administer, the claims of the class.
The first (and, as it turns out, the only) issue to be addressed is that of subject matter jurisdiction.
Plaintiffs concede that neither the Shipping Act nor the Intercoastal Shipping Act creates an express private right of action to challenge carrier rates in federal district court. The Shipping Act does include an express right of action for reparations for rate violations, but that right of action provides for recovering reparations solely through a Commission proceeding. Section 22(a) of the Shipping Act provides:
Any person may file with the Federal Maritime Commission a sworn complaint setting forth any violation of this chapter by a common carrier by water in interstate commerce . . . and asking reparation for the injury, if any, caused thereby. . . . The Commission, if the complaint is filed within two years after the cause of action accrued, may direct the payment, on or before a date named, of full reparation to the complainant for the injury caused by such violation.
Plaintiffs argue, however, that an implied right of action in the district court should be found. They contend that the factors set forth in Cort v. Ash, 422 U.S. 66, 45 L. Ed. 2d 26, 95 S. Ct. 2080 (1975), support the inference
of a cause of action here. The Cort factors are: (1) whether the plaintiff is part of the class for whose benefit the statute was enacted; (2) the evidence of legislative intent; (3) the purposes of the statute; and (4) whether the cause of action is one traditionally relegated to state law. It appears, however, that the Cort analysis is not directly applicable in this case. The Court stated that the four factors were relevant to "determining whether a private remedy is implicit in a statute not expressly providing one." Id. at 78 (emphasis added). In this case a remedy is expressly provided in section 22(a) of the Shipping Act. That remedy is a Commission proceeding for reparations.
Moreover, subsequent Supreme Court decisions have clarified the disfavored status of implied rights of action where the statute provides other express remedies.
It is also an "elemental canon" of statutory construction that where a statute expressly provides a remedy, courts must be especially reluctant to provide additional remedies. . . . In such cases, "in the absence of strong indicia of contrary congressional intent, we are compelled to conclude that Congress provided precisely the remedies it considered appropriate."
Karahalios v. National Fed'n of Fed. Employees, 489 U.S. 527, 532, 103 L. Ed. 2d 539, 109 S. Ct. 1282 (1989) (quoting California v. Sierra Club, 451 U.S. 287, 293, 68 L. Ed. 2d 101, 101 S. Ct. 1775 (1981)); see also Massachusetts Mutual Life Ins. Co. v. Russell, 473 U.S. 134, 147, 87 L. Ed. 2d 96, 105 S. Ct. 3085 (1985) ("where a statute expressly provides a particular remedy or remedies, a court must be chary of reading others into it"). As the Court of Appeals has noted, the specification of an administrative remedy "normally excludes duplicative judicial jurisdiction." Danielsen v. Burnside-Ott Aviation Training Ctr., 291 U.S. App. D.C. 303, 941 F.2d 1220, 1227 (D.C. Cir. 1991) (quoting Miscellaneous Service Workers, Teamsters Local 427 v. Philco-Ford Corp., 661 F.2d 776, 781 (9th Cir. 1981)). At the very least, therefore, there is a strong presumption against inferring a cause of action in the present circumstances. Indeed, since plaintiffs have ...