Class-action lawsuit against Swift gets second chance

| 8/12/2008

A class-action lawsuit challenging Swift Transportation’s alleged practice of shorting drivers on pay for miles driven got a new lease on life Monday, Aug. 11.

An Arizona appellate court judge reversed a lower court decision that had effectively killed the 3-year-old case. The order reverses a ruling on a motion for class certification filed June 8, 2005, which alleges the trucking giant used a flawed method to calculate mileage, shorting the drivers.

“We are very happy that the appellate court ruled in our favor,” said Rob Carey, attorney for the plaintiffs. “Since we filed the complaint, we’ve heard from numerous Swift drivers that Swift’s mileage calculation method robs them of fair compensation. These drivers deserve their day in court, and now they’ll get it.”

Hagens Berman LLP of Phoenix filed the class-action lawsuit in January 2004 on behalf of the family of Patrick Piron, a former Swift driver who died before the suit was file. The lawsuit seeks recovery for an alleged years-long practice of shortchanging drivers for the actual miles they drive.

The suit claims that Swift officials ignore reports from drivers showing the actual miles driven, and instead use an artificial calculation that credits drivers for significantly fewer miles.

The mileage is calculated based on a uniform practice “conceived and implemented at Swift’s national headquarters in Phoenix,” according to allegations in the suit.

Comparing Piron’s actual miles driven to the miles paid for by Swift show the company reducing trips by up to 140 miles when paying Piron, the suit claims.

According to the complaint, Swift used this shortchanging practice for several years, and other major trucking companies may use similar methods in calculating miles and short-changing truckers.

The suit seeks to represent all Swift Transportation drivers employed on or after 1998 and who were “compensated by Swift on the basis of miles driven.”