By Sandi Soendker, editor-in-chief
For more than 10 years, OOIDA chased C.R. England through a legal maze of twists and turns on behalf of truckers taken advantage of by the Salt Lake City-based mega-carrier. And it’s not over yet.
On March 12, Judge Ted Stewart of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah entered final judgment in the case of OOIDA v. C.R. England, awarding the class more than $1.3 million.
On April 5, C.R. England filed an appeal.
According to David Cohen, an attorney with The Cullen Law Firm, OOIDA’s litigation counsel, because of the latest appeal, there will be no distribution of any money until the appeal is concluded. Cohen said the total number of class members was approximately 6,000. Of those, he said that approximately 1,000 would be entitled to receive a cash award under the judgment.
OOIDA President Jim Johnston said the Association is filing a cross-appeal – an appeal that, if won, could raise the amount of the final award.
Issues to be raised on cross appeal include the court’s denial of a statutory trust for escrow funds, its rejection of the 18 percent interest rate for escrow funds unlawfully retained by England, and the court’s refusal to award restitution for England’s markups on tires, parts and fuel.
The appeal process is likely to take between a year and 18 months.
The class action lawsuit was first filed in 2002 and went to trial in federal court in 2006. In 2007, Judge Stewart found C.R. England in violation of the federal Truth-in-Leasing regulations. He ruled that the lease agreement C.R. England used with its owner-operators between 1998 and the summer of 2002 violated the federal regulations. He ruled that C.R. England’s “Independent Contractor Operating Agreement” violated the chargeback, forced-purchase and escrow provisions of the leasing regulations.
In the 2007 decision, the court also held that C.R. England’s lease violated the escrow provisions of the leasing regulations, and specifically found that the motor carrier had improperly managed truckers’ escrow accounts. The case has remained active these past years due to lengthy court-ordered accounting of every escrow fund managed by CRE. LL