Federal court denies C.R. England's petition to appeal class certification ruling

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | Thursday, March 30, 2017

The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied C.R. England’s petition to appeal a district court judge’s class certification of a case alleging fraud against thousands of truck drivers.

“Petitioners have not established that the district court’s class certification was based upon manifest error, nor have they established that permissive interlocutory review is necessary …” the 10th Circuit court wrote on March 27.

Judge Robert J. Shelby approved the class action lawsuit on Jan. 31, paving the way for a nationwide class that could exceed 14,708 drivers.

Plaintiffs Charles Roberts and Kenneth McKay, who drove for C.R. England as independent contractors and leased trucks from Horizon in 2009, allege that the defendants developed a fraudulent plan to induce thousands of people to enroll in C.R. England’s driver training schools by promising students the choice of eventual employment as a company driver or the ability to earn a desirable income driving as an independent contractor.

However, the plaintiffs claim there weren’t many company driver positions available, and students in the driver training schools were subjected to a “misinformation campaign” to convince them to lease trucks from the defendants and become independent contractors for C.R. England. The complaint alleges that as many as thousands of students were persuaded to invest substantial sums of money to lease trucks from the defendants and that many of these drivers were left “debt-ridden.”

C.R. England argued that the allegations were “fiction” and petitioned to appeal the class certification decision on Feb. 14. Attorneys for the trucking company argued that a class action wasn’t appropriate because the members chose to become independent contractors for individual reasons.

“Before choosing to become an independent contractor, class members spent at least 60 days driving with an England independent contractor,” C.R. England’s attorneys wrote. “They learned through firsthand experience and speaking with trainers and other drivers the realities of driving as an independent contractor, including the income they could earn. After this training, over 12,500 drivers chose to become company drivers and 14,700 chose to become independent contractors, proving that drivers used information they learned on the road to make different choices.”

The plaintiffs are now waiting for the court to approve a notice program to the class members.

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