Court rules in OOIDA's favor in Data Q jurisdictional legal battle

By Land Line staff | 2/28/2014

OOIDA Member Fred Weaver will have his day in federal district court over a violation that remains on his driver profile with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – even though the ticket was dismissed – thanks to a ruling Friday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed suit on behalf of OOIDA Member Fred Weaver in May 2013. Weaver was cited by an officer in Montana for failure to stop at a weigh station. That charge was later dismissed by a Montana state court, but the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration denied Weaver’s Data Q request to have the record of that charge removed from the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) database.

OOIDA’s position was that drivers are entitled to challenge FMCSA’s administration of the Data Q program in federal district court.

A similar challenge filed by OOIDA has been pending in federal district court on behalf of four other OOIDA members: Brien E. Kelly, Robert Lohmeier, Klint L. Mowrer and J. Mark Moody. But the Department of Justice was arguing there that the case was filed in the wrong court and that only a federal appellate court could hear the challenges of drivers.

Such jurisdictional issues are often used by the government to delay and sometimes to prevent judicial review, according to OOIDA’s litigation counsel, The Cullen Law Firm.

OOIDA filed Weaver’s case in the federal appeals court asking the court to rule on the jurisdictional issue and to transfer Weaver’s case to district court if it agreed with OOIDA’s position.

The federal district court hearing the case filed by OOIDA on behalf of Brien E. Kelly, Robert Lohmeier, Klint L. Mowrer and J. Mark Moody stayed further action pending the outcome of Weaver’s appeal.

“Today’s decision removes great uncertainty in the court system and gives drivers a clear path toward vindicating their rights,” said OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston following the court’s ruling.

“The Weaver decision has important implications that go far beyond challenges to Data Q determinations,” said Paul D. Cullen Sr., litigation counsel for OOIDA and Weaver. “The FMCSA has been hiding behind uncertainties in the federal jurisdictional statutes for years in order to evade judicial review.”

OOIDA believes that the Weaver decision will bring greater certainty to the ability of drivers to hold FMCSA accountable in court for its actions.

OOIDA encourages members who have had a citation dismissed, but FMCSA has not removed the corresponding violation from their MCMIS driver profiles, to hang onto their paperwork pending the case the Association has on behalf of four members in U.S. District Court.

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