By Coral Beach
Attorneys representing OOIDA and independent truckers have requested a March 2008 trial date in a federal case against Mayflower Transit Inc. If that request is granted, it will mean that the trial will get under way nine years and 11 months after the case was originally filed.
Several truckers and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed the case in U.S. District Court in Indiana in April 1998. The class-action case challenges the legality of Mayflower’s practices involving fuel tax credit escrow funds and general escrow funds. The truckers contend that the motor carrier violated federal truth-in-leasing regulations with those practices.
Among the truckers’ specific complaints is the contention that Mayflower failed to return their escrow funds and interest within 45 days of terminating their leases. Federal law sets the 45-day time frame.
In pretrial action, U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker ruled in 2002 that Mayflower had, indeed, violated the leasing regulations by failing to return fuel tax credit escrow funds within 45 days after lease termination.
In an additional pretrial ruling this fall, the judge refused Mayflower’s request for dismissal of the federal claims brought by trucker plaintiff William Owen, who filed on behalf of other truckers in the class action.
On Sept. 28 Judge Barker issued an order stating that Owen had presented sufficient evidence that Mayflower failed to return his escrow funds and that Owen was entitled to a trial on damages. The judge also denied Mayflower’s request to remove OOIDA from the case.
Mayflower had argued that OOIDA did not have “associational standing.” The judge did not buy that argument.
“I am pleased that we will finally be able to present our claims to a jury,” said OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston. “We believe that once the jury hears the facts of the case, they will hold Mayflower fully accountable for its violation of federal law.”
Judge Barker gave all parties until Oct. 18 to jointly file a status report. On Oct. 9 OOIDA and the truckers filed a proposed case management plan that included a request for the trial to be scheduled for March 2008. LL