DOT loses motion to dismiss OOIDA's driver data lawsuit

By Jami Jones, managing editor

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has denied a motion by the U.S. DOT to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association challenging driver inspection data maintained on government databases.

OOIDA and five members filed two separate

lawsuits – one in 2012 and one in 2013 – alleging that the mega database filled with driver information maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration lacks assurance of data accuracy and a functioning process for dispute resolution. The lawsuits were combined in June 2014.

Drivers involved in both lawsuits had violations found during roadside inspections, and they fought the accompanying citations in court. Traffic courts dismissed their citations, but attempts to have the corresponding violations removed from driver records maintained by FMCSA were denied.

Currently, when driver and motor carrier violation records are challenged through the agency’s Data Q process, the agency defers to the jurisdiction where the violation originated to make the decision.

The defendants, including FMCSA, had filed a motion to dismiss the Association’s challenge to the refusal of FMCSA to delete from its database references to safety enforcement actions against truckers.

U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell denied the motion to dismiss on March 10.

FMCSA maintains the Motor Carrier Management Information System, MCMIS, a large database where data used by the Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) and Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Program is stored. OOIDA contends that FMCSA is responsible under various federal statutes for ensuring the accuracy of the records in the database.

According to the court, the major issue to be decided in the case is whether the government is maintaining inaccurate information in the MCMIS database. The court rejected the DOT’s argument that it had complied with all federal laws regarding the dissemination of database records.

“FMCSA has failed to fulfill its responsibility to ensure the accuracy of the data maintained by it in the MCMIS database,” said OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston.

OOIDA is asking the court to order FMCSA to purge the MCMIS database of all enforcement actions by states until the driver has his day in court and to have records related to dismissals and acquittals removed from the database. LL