Appeals court declines to hear OOIDA appeal for class certification in case against Prime; case ready to proceed to trial

| 4/10/2002

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth District has declined to exercise its discretion to permit an interlocutory appeal of an earlier district court ruling denying class certification in the case against New Prime, Inc. by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA).

OOIDA's case against the Springfield, MO-based motor carrier over alleged violations of the federal leasing regulations, unauthorized deductions and failure to return escrow accounts is now expected to proceed to trial with OOIDA and two of its member owner-operators as plaintiffs.

On Feb. 25, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri ruled against OOIDA's request for class certification to combine the potential 10,000 owner-operators affected by Prime's alleged truth-in-leasing violations into one lawsuit. The court had denied the class certification despite broad agreement with OOIDA on virtually all prerequisites needed to obtain certification of a class.

Commenting on the appellate court's response, OOIDA President Jim Johnston said, "Given the many delays and legal maneuvering in this case since the initial filing back in 1997, it's not totally surprising to me that the appeals court has chosen not to deal with the class certification issue in the middle of the case before final rulings on the merits have been made. Acceptance of appeals at this stage is unusual but was worth a try."

Johnston added, "We are convinced that the requirements for class certification have been met and will be recognized on appeal after our case has been tried on the merits. We have requested trial before a jury at the earliest possible date."