Arctic Express and D&A Associates (Arctic's affiliated leasing company) have filed counterclaims in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against owner-operators who stepped forward and joined OOIDA's lawsuit to compel return of maintenance escrow funds from those companies. D&A Associates' counterclaims allege that each of the owner-operators breached their lease-purchase agreements by failing to make every payment required under the agreements.
D&A Associates takes the position that owner-operators owe it money because they did not continue to make weekly truck payments after the lease-purchase agreement had been terminated. Arctic has asked the court for money damages, their costs and attorney's fees in bringing these claims against the owner-operators.
Prime Inc. has also filed counterclaims in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, against an owner-operator who put his name on the lawsuit to get his escrow funds back. Prime's counterclaims allege that the owner-operator owed Prime approximately $6,000 in unreimbursed advances when the driver's lease was terminated. Prime seeks interest on that money and payment of Prime's attorney's fees for bringing these claims against the owner-operator. Success Leasing Inc. also asserts a counterclaim against the owner-operator. It sues the owner-operator for money damages, interest, and attorney's fees for failing to stay in the lease-purchase agreement for the full term of the lease.
"OOIDA will not allow such tactics to intimidate owner-operators and discourage them from enforcing their federally protected rights in court."
"Counterclaims filed by both Prime and Arctic will be opposed vigorously," said Jim Johnston, president of OOIDA. Johnston went on to state that "OOIDA will not allow such tactics to intimidate owner-operators and discourage them from enforcing their federally protected rights in court." Johnston noted that these counterclaims should serve as a warning to any owner-operator tempted to sign a lease or a lease-purchase agreement with Prime or Arctic.
"The deck is stacked against the owner-operator in many of the lease-purchase arrangements offered by major motor carriers and owner-operators should proceed with great caution before becoming involved," said Johnston. If successful, counterclaims in these lawsuits could cost owner-operators tens of thousands of dollars each.
New Prime Inc., d/b/a Prime Inc., (Springfield, MO) and Arctic Express Inc. (Hilliard, OH), are currently involved in class action lawsuits brought by OOIDA and several former owner-operators from each company. In both cases, OOIDA and the owner-operators charge that Prime Inc. and Arctic Express illegally refuse to return maintenance escrow funds collected from owner-operators under the companies' lease-purchase programs. The suits also name the corporate entities through which Prime and Arctic apparently run their lease-purchase programs - Success Leasing, Inc. in Prime's case, and D&A Associates, Ltd. in Arctic's case.
OOIDA will ask both courts to dismiss these counterclaims and to award summary judgment to the plaintiffs on their original claims.