2002, Grain Valley, MO - The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers
Association (OOIDA) has appealed several recent decisions by a U.S.
District Court in its case against New Prime Inc. for alleged violations
of the truth-in-leasing regulations.
On Aug. 6,
U.S. District Court Judge Dean Whipple, for the Western District
of Missouri, dismissed the claims of two plaintiffs, OOIDA members
Marshall Johnson and Jerry Vanboetzelaer, from the case. Judge
Whipple ruled that Johnson's and Vanboetzelaer's leases with the
Springfield, MO-based motor carrier "pre-dated" the
Jan. 1, 1996, statute guaranteeing a trucker's private right of
action against a carrier.
On Aug. 20,
Judge Whipple then ruled that OOIDA no longer had standing to
pursue the case because none of its owner-operator members were
participants. The court also ruled that Prime's current lease
does not violate the federal regulations. OOIDA believes the court's
legal reasoning and factual analysis were faulty on both issues.
on the court's rulings, OOIDA President Jim Johnston said, "We
are disappointed, but not entirely surprised by Judge Whipple's
decision, given this court's apparent hostile attitude towards
our complaints throughout these proceedings. We believe the court
has erred in both its interpretation of the law and its diligence
in reviewing the details of Prime's filings in the case."
added, "The court has ignored the regulations that have been
in place since 1979. The court's reasoning in applying the Jan.
1, 1996, date in eliminating the two owner-operators from the
case is tantamount to the court absolving carriers for years of
illegal activity in their dealings with owner-operators. We are
confident that these issues, as well as our appeal on the class
certification of the case, will be properly addressed by the appeals
On Feb. 25,
the U.S. District Court had ruled against OOIDA's request for
class certification to combine the potential 10,000 owner-operators
affected by Prime's alleged violations into one lawsuit. The U.S.
Court of Appeals declined to exercise its discretion to hear OOIDA's
appeal on the class certification until after the other issues
in the case had been addressed by the lower district court.
appeal, which will be heard by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth
Circuit in St. Louis, seeks reversal of the recent rulings as
well as the trial court's denial of class certification. This
is the second appeal OOIDA has taken in this case. In 1999, the
Eighth Circuit reversed the same district court's decision after
the trial court ruled that OOIDA and owner-operators did not have
a private right of action to seek injunctive relief for violations
of the truth-in-leasing regulations. The appellate court's ruling
that the ICC Termination Act authorizes a trucker's private action
against a carrier has since been upheld by numerous other courts
where OOIDA has filed lawsuits against motor carriers.