Lawsuit Update

By Land Line staff

Editor’s note: OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston also discussed the Association’s case against USIS/DAC on “Land Line Now.” Here are some of his comments from that broadcast, as well as the latest information on the case from OOIDA’s legal team.

Question: We have talked about some of the past cases, but we’ve got some new cases that are going on right now that are pretty important too. Can you tell us about the case against USIS/DAC?

Answer: Yes, that is a very important case. It involves DAC’s system of compiling driving and work histories on professional truckers. It has, in our view, turned into a system of blackballing where motor carriers can arbitrarily put information into that system that can make it very difficult for drivers to get jobs.

The “company policy violation,” for example, is one of the things motor carriers can put on a trucker’s DAC report, but they don’t have to specify what policy was violated. That company policy violation may be as simple as that guy wanting to be paid every week.

Without further explanation, the next carrier this trucker goes to looks at that line on the DAC report and says, “well this guy’s a troublemaker - we don’t want him.”

What has developed over the years is a fear or concern among truckers of being “DAC’d.” We’ve talked to a lot of drivers - both owner-operators and employee drivers - that are concerned about responding to unfair treatment from a particular carrier because of the threat hanging over their head that they might be DAC’d.

So we took on DAC’s system under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. There are specific requirements under the Fair Credit Reporting Act for accuracy in reporting information on consumers. That’s what we based the suit on.

This could be a long action as well, and there are substantial penalties involved for DAC if they are found to be in violation of the act - or willfully violating the act. It’s important to them and also to us.

We would like to come to some type of reasonable settlement. We feel like there should be some type of fair system for reporting work history in place, and there will be one regardless of what happens with DAC.

We want to assure that whatever is there is fairly and accurately reporting work histories, and it’s not used as a tool for blackballing drivers.

Question: There seems to be a theme here that is important. The Association is not asking for special treatment with its court cases, is it? This is about equal protection - getting truckers the same rights that any other consumer would have under the Fair Credit Reporting Act - that any other person would have when dealing with someone in a contractual situation?

Answer: That’s exactly right. We are doing what we are here to do, which is represent truckers.

Question: The DAC case has generated a lot of interested on the road. Where does that case stand now?

Answer: We are in a period of required mediation by the court right now, and we are having discussions with DAC about a possible settlement. Beyond that, the nature of that type of court action has to be confidential, and we can’t talk about it, but we are hopeful that we’ll be able to negotiate a resolution without the necessity of going through the entire court process.

As of press time …
The federal judge handling the Association’s case against USIS Commercial Services Inc., which does business under the trade name of DAC Services, has set the case for trial in May of 2006 in the U.S. District Court in Colorado.

Negotiations were ongoing at press time, according to attorney Randall Herrick-Stare, one of the lawyers handling OOIDA’s case against DAC. The two sides have met in Washington, DC, where USIS/DAC has its offices at the ATA headquarters, and also in Colorado and at OOIDA headquarters in Grain Valley, MO.

Every year DAC sends out or publishes millions of consumer reports on drivers without their permission. The class-action suit filed by OOIDA against the company includes any individual since July 7, 1999, who has been the subject of a termination record form received by DAC or the subject of a consumer report published by DAC that has included a work record descriptor.