Court rejects Prime motion - upholds owner-operators rights to sue

| Friday, January 04, 2002

In the latest in a lengthy legal battle between the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and New Prime, Inc., dba Prime, U.S. District Court Judge Dean Whipple has rejected Prime's current efforts to have the lawsuit dismissed.

Attorneys for Prime had asked the court to dismiss the suit based on a recent Supreme Court ruling that concluded certain individuals do not have a "private right of action" to enforce federal regulations. Judge Whipple did not agree noting that unlike the court case cited by Prime's attorneys, Congressional intent to create a free-standing private right of action to enforce leasing regulations was present in the statutes.

This motion was Prime's second attack on the private right of action statutes passed by Congress in the ICC Termination Act. In 1999, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a similar motion by the Springfield, Missouri based truckload carrier.

OOIDA President Jim Johnston said he was pleased with the well-reasoned decision of the court. "We are anxious to get past these legal maneuverings and procedural challenges and put the merits of this case on trial before the court," said Johnston.

OOIDA vs. Prime has been ongoing since 1997, when the first complaints were filed. In the pending lawsuit, OOIDA alleges that Prime's standard lease agreements violate the truth-in-leasing regulations governing the agreements between owner-operators and the motor carrier. OOIDA alleges violations in the areas of escrow funds, charge-back items and forced purchases of products, equipment and services from the motor carrier.

Several motions in this complex case remain before the court, the most important being OOIDA's request for class certification.

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