May 20, 2002, Grain Valley, MO - The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has announced that a U.S. District Court has set a date of Sept. 9, 2002, for a jury trial to begin in its case against New Prime Inc.
U.S. District Court Judge Dean Whipple, for the Western District of Missouri, established the trial date along with the pretrial filing deadlines in the case originally filed in 1997 by OOIDA and two of its owner-operator members against the Springfield, MO - based carrier. The action alleges violations of the federal leasing regulations, unauthorized deductions and failure to return escrow accounts.
Commenting on the setting of the trial date, OOIDA President Jim Johnston said, "We are pleased to finally reach this point and are anxious to get to trial on the merits of this case." He added, "This case has gone on for several years now during which a lot of legal maneuvering has occurred to challenge such key points as a trucker's private right of action and the jurisdiction of the courts to enforce the federal leasing regulations."
Johnston pointed out that while the delays have been unfortunate, the case has been important in establishing the court's agreement with OOIDA's positions in its ruling that the ICC Termination Act authorizes private actions for damages and injunctive relief for violations of the federal motor carrier leasing regulations. In 1999, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis also ruled in this case that federal courts had jurisdiction over such.
Johnston said, "This case is one of the first filed by OOIDA over alleged violations of the federal regulations by a carrier and so the legal games were to be expected. Thankfully, many of the precedents established here are now being successfully used and continually upheld by other courts in our actions against carriers."
At OOIDA's request, a jury will decide the case. OOIDA is represented by the Cullen Law Firm of Washington DC.