Attorneys file lawsuit against Tennessee, Swift over yanked CDLs

| Monday, May 11, 2009

At least four lawsuits have been filed in response to the estimated 5,000 CDLs the state of Tennessee declared invalid after investigating the Swift Transportation’s Tennessee trucking school in 2008.

The latest suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Tennessee this past week, and names Tennessee Department of Safety Commissioner David Mitchell and Swift as defendants.

In February 2008, the state-certified CDL testing center at a Swift Trucking facility near Memphis was raided by multiple state and federal agencies. Documents were seized, and the investigation reportedly centered on the illegal issuance of CDLs.

Although no charges emerged, in January 2009 the Tennessee Department of Safety announced that drivers who obtained CDLs through one third-party tester in Tennessee between May 2005 and January 2008 might be required to do a complete retest.

A Freedom of Information Act request by Land Line later revealed the tester was Swift.

Tennessee’s move to yank the CDLs prompted other states to revoke CDLs from drivers who originally obtained their CDLs through Swift’s Tennessee school, and at least 5,000 drivers nationally have been affected.

The class action lawsuits aim to get hearings for the “mass revocation of hundreds of CDLs” in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as other relief for former students of the Millington, TN, driving school. A third suit filed in U.S. District Court in Tennessee names Tennessee Department of Safety Commissioner David Mitchell and Swift Transportation as defendants.

Tennessee attorney Bill Burns filed a lawsuit in March on behalf of two couples and others against Swift for the motor carrier company’s role in the CDL dispute.

Attorney Philip Stephen Fuoco of Haddonfield, NJ, has filed at least three lawsuits related to the CDL issue in Tennessee. Fuoco called Tennessee’s revocation of the CDLs unconstitutional “and un-American,” and blamed Tennessee and the other states for revoking the licenses.

“For other states to blindly follow this decision by Tennessee is not much better,” Fuoco said. “We hope the lawsuits will, at minimum, provide an explanation to these hard-working truckers as to why they have lost their ability to feed their families; while at the same time providing them adequate time to be retested,” Fuoco said.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer