For more than 10 years, OOIDA chased C.R. England through a legal maze of twists and turns on behalf of truckers taken advantage of by the Salt Lake City-based mega-carrier. This week, Judge Ted Stewart of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah signed his name one more time in the case of OOIDA v. C.R. England, entering final judgment in favor of truckers. The court awarded the class more than $1.3 million.
According to David Cohen, an attorney with The Cullen Law Firm, OOIDA’s litigation counsel, the total number of class members was approximately 6,000. Of those, Cohen said that approximately 1,000 would be entitled to receive a cash award under the judgment. Cohen cautioned, however, that no monies would be distributed to class members if the judgment is appealed. Under the rules, any appeal must be filed within 30 days of entry of the final judgment.
The class-action lawsuit was first filed in 2002 and went to trial in federal court in 2006. In 2007, Judge Stewart found C.R. England in violation of the federal Truth-in-Leasing regulations, ruling that the lease agreement C.R. England used with its owner-operators between 1998 and the summer of 2002 violated the federal regulations. He ruled that C.R. England’s Independent Contractor Operating Agreement violated the charge-back, forced-purchase and escrow provisions of the leasing regulations.
In the 2007 decision, the court also held that C.R. England’s lease violated the escrow provisions of the leasing regulations, and specifically found that the motor carrier had improperly managed truckers’ escrow accounts. The case has remained active these past years due to lengthy court-ordered accounting of every escrow fund managed by CRE.
OOIDA President Jim Johnston said this week that he always considers a legal win a “major plus,” but the Association is not totally satisfied with the overall outcome of the case.
“There were several good precedents that came out of this case that will serve us well going into the future, “said Johnston, “and obviously we are pleased that we won the suit. But the object of most of our class action cases is to correct practices, make it better for drivers. In this case, we don’t see that C.R. England has changed many of their practices, and we feel there are still many drivers who are taken advantage of under the arrangement with CRE.”