Charles R. Wolle has ordered class certification in a lawsuit
brought by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association
(OOIDA) and two of its owner-operator members against Heartland
which was filed in December 2001 in the U.S. District Court for
the Southern District of Iowa, alleges that Heartland’s owner-operator
lease violates the federal truth-in-leasing regulations and that
the motor carrier makes illegal deductions from owner-operators’
of a class is significant in this case. If found liable, Heartland
would owe damages to every owner-operator injured by its illegal
behavior. The Iowa City, IA, motor carrier is a publicly traded
corporation (NASDAQ: HTLD).
in this suit,” OOIDA President Jim Johnston said, “are to see
that owner-operators recoup their financial losses because of
money taken illegally by Heartland and to permanently prevent
this carrier’s further abuse of the truth-in-leasing regulations.
The court’s granting of class certification gives both current
and former Heartland owner-operators the best vehicle they have
to challenge Heartland’s practices and recover money illegally
taken from them.”
“We hope the regularity with which the courts continue to grant
class certification in our legal actions against carriers will
be a wake-up call to those unscrupulous companies who bolster
their profitability at the expense of their leased owner-operators.
We have already seen in some of our other court actions that their
liability, multiplied by several thousand owner-operators, has
the potential to substantially impact their future business operations.”
In his ruling,
Judge Wolle certified a class that includes owner-operators who
are, or have been, leased to Heartland since Oct. 1, 1997, and
who were subject to Heartland’s illegal activity alleged in the
alleges that Heartland illegally forced owner-operators to purchase
bobtail insurance from or through Heartland, that Heartland made
deductions from owner-operator compensation that were not specified
first in the lease, and that Heartland deducted more from owner-operator
compensation than Heartland actually advanced for certain products
and services, such as bobtail insurance, fuel and the use of a
Comdata transaction card.
A jury trial
has been requested by OOIDA, and a trial is scheduled to begin
on Sept. 8 of this year.