Thursday, May 17, 2007 – Attorneys filed an appeal Wednesday in a federal case involving truckers’ complaints about so-called DAC reports. The truckers want a new trial, which could ultimately have a ripple effect and impact hundreds of thousands drivers.
Filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver, OOIDA’s appeal brief raised two major issues:
- Can DAC procure reports from a driver’s former carrier without notice to and permission from the driver?
- Can inaccuracies in reports sold by DAC be overlooked because hiring and terminating motor carriers may talk to each other after publication of defective DAC reports?
OOIDA argues in its appeal brief that the trial judge, U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Blackburn, made significant errors of law when he ruled that DAC did not have to get the drivers’ permission to procure their employment histories under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The appeal also argues that DAC cannot escape the consequences of its inaccurate reports because of what its customers may or may not do after receiving such reports.
“The goal is to transform how DAC operates and to prevent drivers from being DAC’d by motor carriers who use such reports as instrumentalities of harassment and oppression,” said Jim Johnston, OOIDA president and CEO. “Our appeal raises critical issues that will have a major impact on the way DAC does business.”
In addition to helping drivers, attorneys representing OOIDA said a positive outcome for the truckers would be good for others in the industry, too.
“A win for the truckers will not affect any part of the DAC reports that allow motor carriers to fulfill their requirements under the federal safety rules,” according to attorney Paul D. Cullen Jr., of The Cullen Law Firm in Washington, DC.
“In fact, if DAC were to follow the law as we want them to, DAC reports would provide more accurate information and be much more useful to DAC’s motor carrier members.”
Once all of the briefs are filed, a three-judge panel from the appeals court will review the documents and possibly allow both sides to present oral arguments in court.
“Briefing by both sides could be completed as early as this fall,” Cullen said, “opening the door for a decision by mid-2008.”
Among the specific points addressed in the truckers’ appeal was Judge Blackburn’s decision to not allow the case to be heard as a class action. Blackburn denied class-action status in May 2006, leaving only six individually named truckers as plaintiffs. OOIDA wants the case to include all drivers who were the subject of a DAC report beginning in July 1999 and continuing to the present.
The trial began in late August 2006, but halfway through Blackburn threw out two of the six trucker plaintiffs and dismissed three of their four counts against DAC, leaving little for the OOIDA legal team to present to the jury. On Sept. 5, 2006, the jury found in favor of DAC.
The truckers’ appeal brief contends that evidence of what carriers do after receiving a DAC report was irrelevant and unfairly prejudicial. OOIDA argues that DAC used this objectionable evidence to confuse and mislead the jury on whether the DAC reports themselves were inaccurate.
– By Land Line staff
Staff Editor Coral Beach contributed to this report.