A District Court judge in Indiana has agreed with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s request that two of OOIDA’s lawsuits against a Missouri household goods carrier be certified as class action lawsuits.
On Nov. 5, U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker concluded that OOIDA and the owner-operator plaintiffs had met all the prerequisites needed for class certification in both suits against Mayflower Transit Inc. of Fenton, MO. The lawsuits were filed by OOIDA, with members Woody Chambers of Woodchuck Leasing Inc, Mark Dudgeon and John Neidig.
The first suit claims violations of the federal truth-in-leasing regulations by the carrier’s failure to return fuel tax credits on a current basis and to return fuel tax credits and other funds held in escrow accounts to owner-operators within the required time period after their lease agreements had expired. The second suit alleges that Mayflower unlawfully overcharged the owner-operators for insurance products they purchased through Mayflower, which is also a violation of federal truth-in-leasing regulations.
Each suit is estimated to have a potential class of 1,000 members. In her written judgment, Judge Barker found that “a class action was the superior method of adjudication in the matters in question as a lawsuit by each individual plaintiff would be impracticable since the amount of money at issue was usually less that the amount it would cost for each to prosecute a case.”
In making her ruling, Judge Barker also dismissed Mayflower’s challenge of OOIDA’s participation in the class action stating, “As the owner-operators’ association which has undertaken both legal and legislative efforts for the owner-operators, OOIDA has a powerful interest in defending the owner-operators’ contract rights. It has proven itself to be an adequate representative in the past.”
OOIDA President Jim Johnston said after the ruling “We are very pleased with Judge Barker’s decision. The court has again supported OOIDA’s long-held position that the rights and interests of large numbers of small-business truckers can be more effectively served when they act together against injustices in the marketplace.”
Johnston added, “Too many owner-operators decline to pursue justified complaints against carriers because of a lack of resources or the relatively small amounts involved. We hope rulings such as this and recent class certifications that we have achieved in other cases will encourage them to document those alleged abuses and join with OOIDA to seek relief against unscrupulous carriers.”