By Sandi Soendker
OOIDA received another good ruling in January from U.S. Magistrate Judge David Nuffer in the case of OOIDA v. C.R. England.
The class action lawsuit was first filed in 2002 and went to trial in federal court in 2006. The takeaway for OOIDA and trucker plaintiffs was a benchmark truth-in-leasing victory for truckers.
Following the decision in Salt Lake City, U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart referred the case to Magistrate Judge David Nuffer to oversee the disposition of individual class members’ escrow claims.
One issue before Judge Nuffer was whether Utah-based motor carrier C.R. England could assert set-offs for alleged repair and maintenance costs against individual class members’ escrow accounts in the damages phase of the case. OOIDA and the truckers had moved to exclude these set-offs from consideration on the grounds that the court required C.R. England to deduct any repair and maintenance charges from class members’ escrow funds when the motor carrier filed its final accounting in November 2008. The company opposed OOIDA’s motion on the grounds that these repair and maintenance charges were “newly discovered” and were “legitimate set-offs.”
The magistrate judge rejected C.R. England’s arguments and ruled that it could not assert any claim for repair or maintenance charges against class members during the current damages phase of the case.
He said that the plain language of the court’s ruling prohibited the consideration of these set-offs during the damages phase.
“Essentially, Judge Nuffer said that C.R. England missed the boat by not identifying these set-offs in its final accounting,” said David A. Cohen, attorney for The Cullen Law Firm, OOIDA’s litigation counsel. “The judge also said that letting C.R. England assert these claims at this late date would only serve to prolong a case that has been pending for many years.”
Cohen called this latest ruling another big win for OOIDA and members of the class action.
“It takes over $600,000 in alleged set-offs against individual class members off the table. Many of the affected class members (roughly half) are entitled to 18 percent interest per year on their unlawfully retained escrow funds. My preliminary calculations are that, based on this ruling and the 18 percent ruling, C.R. England will owe the class roughly $1 million just on these repair and maintenance set-offs.”
Cohen said the $1 million does not include additional damages owed to class members based on the court’s prior exclusion of refurbishment claims.
Cohen said C.R. England may appeal Judge Nuffer’s ruling. LL