Judge rules Celadon breached contract with owner-operators

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 1/23/2015

A judge in Indiana has ruled Celadon breached its contract with owner-operators by failing to pass along fuel rebates the carrier received from Pilot Flying J. The judge ordered Celadon to pay $3.8 million in damages plus another $1.7 million in interest.

Plaintiff truckers Charles Wilmoth and Kent Vassey filed a lawsuit against Celadon Trucking Services Inc. in October 2013 in Marion County, Ind., but the venue was later transferred to federal court in Indianapolis – where Celadon is headquartered.

According to the proceedings, Celadon issued fuel cards to its owner-operators to purchase diesel at Pilot and Flying J truck stops over a 10-year period.

Celadon belonged to a rebate program with Pilot and Flying J – now under one roof as Pilot Flying J – but the carrier did not pass the savings on to the owner-operators who ultimately paid for and used the fuel.

Last month, the judge ruled Celadon’s practice was a breach of contract.

The lawsuit class consists of more than 2,200 current and former owner-operators. During the proceedings, Celadon attempted to countersue the owner-ops, but that did not fly.

According to the company’s website, Celadon was founded in 1985 and employs about 4,000. The company says it operates roughly 3,000 tractors and 8,700 trailers.

Celadon raised driver pay last summer. Chairman Steve Russell stirred the pot at the time when he said the solution to the trucking industry’s driver shortage should not be a “wage competition.”

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