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11/3/2005
SPECIAL REPORT: OOIDA asks court to help truckers recover money

America's largest trucking association has taken an advocacy role for hundreds of truckers who are owed more than $1.6 million from two trucking companies that are in involuntary bankruptcy.

OOIDA filed a memo this week with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Danville, IL, asking the court to support the claims of truck drivers in dealing with the involuntary bankruptcy of CX Roberson and PFT Roberson. The Association also asked the court to deny the trucking companies' request to dismiss the case.

The two companies, former divisions of Roberson Transportation, owe drivers more than $1.6 million that was supposed to be held in escrow. OOIDA's memo said none of that money has been returned to the drivers and that they are owed an average of at least $5,000 each, plus interest.

"Owner-operator escrows are funds which never belonged to (Roberson) and were never available to satisfy (Roberson's) other creditors, including the secured creditors," said the memo from OOIDA.

The memo also stated that any third party in possession of owner-operators' escrow accounts, including the banks that provided financing to the Roberson companies, must turn those funds back over to the owner-operators because federal law specifies such accounts belong to the individuals who paid into them.

A hearing has been set for Nov. 16 in Danville to further consider the case.

Roberson Transportation sold CX Roberson to Celadon Group and PFT Roberson to Annett Holdings in January.

OOIDA's memo states that about 325 owner-operator drivers had lease agreements with the Roberson firms that required them to put up $2,500 to guarantee their performance. They also had to contribute from 4 cents to 5.5 cents per mile to a maintenance reserve account.

The Association reports it has received "numerous complaints" from drivers seeking assistance in recovering their escrow funds.

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