August 28, Grain Valley, MO - The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association
announces what it considers to be a substantial victory in U.S. District Court
in its lawsuit against Mayflower Transit Inc.
On Aug. 27, U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker (for the Southern
District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division) denied all motions brought by
Mayflower Transit, Inc. to dismiss two cases filed by the Owner-Operator Independent
Drivers Association (OOIDA) and three of its owner-operator members.
The two lawsuits were filed against Mayflower Transit Inc., of Fenton, MO,
in 1998 by OOIDA with members Woody Chambers of Woodchuck Leasing Inc, Mark
Dudgeon, and John Neidig. The first suit claims violations of the federal
truth-in-leasing regulations by the carrier's failure to return fuel-tax credits
on a current basis and to return fuel- tax credits and other funds held in
escrow accounts to owner-operators within the required time period after their
lease agreements had expired. The second suit alleges that Mayflower unlawfully
over-charged the owner-operators for insurance products that they purchased
through Mayflower, which is also a violation of federal truth-in-leasing regulations.
In its request to dismiss the actions, Mayflower had argued that the plaintiffs
have no private right of action under the leasing regulations; that the cases
should be deferred to the DOT, and state claims should not be retained after
the federal causes of action are dismissed; and that it is not liable because
it is not a signatory to any lease agreements between its agents and the individual
Judge Barker rejected all three arguments, pointing out in her ruling that
the ICC Termination Act explicitly provided for private enforcement of the
leasing regulations in court. She also denied DOT's primary jurisdiction over
the case since one of the original purposes of the ICC Termination Act was
to reduce the DOT's dispute resolution function.
Because she refused to dismiss the federal claims, she also retained jurisdiction
over the state claims. Finally, Judge Barker went on to reject Mayflower's
claim that it had no liability for contracts entered into by its authorized
"We are very pleased with Judge Barker's ruling on these issues,"
said Jim Johnston, president of OOIDA. "Once again, and despite costly
and complicated efforts by motor carriers, the courts have recognized that
owner-operators have a private right of action against motor carriers under
the federal truth-in-leasing regulations. This continues to be our most important
instrument in obtaining relief against business practices that are in direct
violation of the federal truth-in-leasing regulations."