U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. (for the Western District of Missouri) ruled on several motions that were before the court Sept. 24 in regard to a lawsuit brought by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association against Ledar Transport Inc. of Kansas City, MO.
The suit against Ledar Transport was originally filed by OOIDA in 1999 on behalf of several OOIDA members under lease to Ledar, claiming violations of the federal truth-in-leasing regulations. Last November, Judge Gaitan issued a preliminary injunction against Ledar restraining the company from using leased trucking equipment in its transportation business until its leases with owner-operators conformed to the federal leasing regulations.
In his recent Sept. 24 ruling, Judge Gaitan denied a Ledar motion to alter or amend the November 2000 judgment and also denied the carrier's motion for partial relief from the preliminary injunction.
Judge Gaitan went on to grant OOIDA's motion for reimbursement of additional fees incurred in trying to serve Ledar executives Carl Higgs, Norma Higgs and Scott Higgs with amended complaints. The court concurred with evidence that the defendants had consistently evaded service of process of the amended complaints and needlessly ran up fees for process servers. Judge Gaitan further ordered U.S. marshals to serve the amended complaint upon defendant, Scott Higgs.
Motions by OOIDA to move for a contempt ruling against Ledar were postponed until the end of the case.
A ruling on another OOIDA motion concerning return of all escrow funds to each of the owner-operators is to be taken up after the court's consideration of the motion for class certification of the case. An additional motion by the Truckload Carriers Association for permission to file a supporting (amicus) brief in the case was also provisionally denied by Judge Gaitan, stating that such additional briefings by TCA would not benefit the court.
Jim Johnston, president of OOIDA, said he was satisfied with Judge Gaitan's rulings on the various motions. He went on to say "We are pleased that the court continues to take a fair and firm stand against carriers who have taken advantage of owner-operators." Johnston added, "We are anticipating the certification of class for this case shortly. OOIDA firmly believes that class certification is the key for giving individual owner-operators the opportunity to join together and effectively address the illegal business practices of carriers in the court system."