In mid-March, OOIDA filed another class action lawsuit against Ledar Transport, Inc. in Missouri federal court. OOIDA is joined in the suit by four owner-operators, two of whom are OOIDA members, serving as representatives for a class that is estimated to include hundreds of independent truckers. The new case ("Ledar II") is based upon five separate counts alleging Ledar Transport's violation of the federal truth-in-leasing regulations, which govern the terms of truck leases between owner-operators and motor carriers.
Specifically, OOIDA's complaint asserts that Ledar Transport unlawfully withholds owner-operators' escrow funds collected under Ledar Transport's lease, and owner-operators' maintenance reserve funds collected under lease-purchase agreements. The complaint also maintains that Ledar Transport fails to pay drivers within the 15-day time period required by law, and that the motor carrier makes unlawful deductions from owner-operators' compensation. According to OOIDA's legal counsel, Paul D. Cullen, Sr. of The Cullen Law Firm in Washington, DC: "Some of the most egregious transgressions alleged in this case spring from the inadequacy of Ledar Transport's lease, which the complaint charges is rife violations of the truth-in-leasing regulations."
In 1996, Ledar Transport was sued by two OOIDA members representing a class of owner-operators that claimed a number of the same violations of the leasing regulations that are claimed in Ledar II. Ledar Transport was held liable for those claims by a Missouri federal court. Two significant differences between that older case and Ledar II are that the first class was smaller, and none of the members of the first class had entered into lease-purchase agreements with Ledar Transport.
Jim Johnston, president of OOIDA, sees a connection between these two facts. "Although OOIDA historically has received numerous complaints from its members about Ledar's abuse of owner-operators," says Johnston, "those complaints increased significantly once Ledar started entering drivers into its lease-purchase program. From the information reported to us by former Ledar drivers, Ledar's lease-purchase program operates in such a way that drivers can rarely run their rigs without falling deeper into debt as the weeks roll by - this creates driver turnover on a much greater scale."
To date, Ledar Transport has not submitted an answer to this newest class action complaint filed against it.
If you have questions or information about the Ledar cases, call OOIDA's Business Services Dept. at (800) 444-5791.