Wednesday, May 2, 2007 - The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Inc. (OOIDA) announced today that it had reached a settlement in two nationwide class action cases against Allied Van Lines and North American Van Lines. The settlement also includes Global Van Lines. Joining OOIDA in the suit, and representing the class of owner-operators, were OOIDA members Skip Austin, George Pancoast and Rod Rockwell.
The Allied lawsuit was filed by Rockwell and OOIDA in federal court in Illinois in May 2000. The North American lawsuit was filed by Austin, Pancoast and OOIDA in March 2001, now pending in federal court in Indiana. The lawsuits alleged that Allied and North American had failed to implement leases that complied with the compensation and chargeback disclosure provisions of the federal Truth-in-Leasing regulations.
The Allied/North American suits are only two of several complaints being pursued by OOIDA involving the household goods industry. Other litigation brought by OOIDA and several of its members is currently pending against Mayflower Transit Inc. and United Van Lines Inc. Neither of those companies are part of the present settlement.
Under the terms of the settlement, Allied and North American will pay $8 million to owner-operators in the class over a period of two years to settle all claims raised in the lawsuits. The settlement class includes all Allied owner-operators who leased equipment and services to Allied after May 5, 2000, and all North American and Global Drivers who leased equipment and services to North American after March 2001. As part of the settlement, Allied and North American are implementing a new uniform Independent Contractor Operating Agreement. The entire class is composed of approximately 6,000 owner-operators.
Commenting on the settlement, OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston expressed satisfaction that significant portions of the household goods industry and their drivers could put their differences behind them and look to the future under revised owner-operator leases.
“Not everyone gets everything they want in a settlement” said Johnston, “but where the parties continue to deal with each other on an ongoing basis, it is as important to build for the future as it is to try and redress every conceivable grievance from the past. Allied and North American Van Lines deserve great credit for showing real leadership in addressing these types of long-standing industry issues.”
Plaintiffs Austin, Pancoast and Rockwell stated they, too, were very pleased with the results accomplished by the settlement, including the Van Lines’ agreement to make full disclosure regarding compensation at the time loads are offered or assigned.
The court must still approve the proposed settlement. It is anticipated that each class member will receive a settlement award based on the number of days for each truck that the driver had under lease during the class period. Because of the structured payment schedule agreed to by the parties, class members likely will receive three separate checks over the course of two years from the date the court grants final approval to the settlement. Attorneys’ fees and expenses approved by the court will also be deducted on a prorated basis.