Aug. 21, 2003, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
ruled that owner-operators who signed leases prior to Jan. 1, 1996,
could not prosecute their claims under the federal truth-in-leasing
regulations against New Prime Inc. in federal court without imposing
impermissible retroactive effects.
decision is in no way a vindication of the conduct of New Prime
under federal law," said Jim Johnston, president of the Owner-Operator
Independent Drivers Association. "The court merely decided
that New Prime could not be compelled to defend its conduct under
the leases in question in federal court."
of the leases that were involved in the litigation were executed
prior to Jan. 1, 1996, the effective date of the Interstate Commerce
Commission Termination Act. OOIDA's attorneys are reviewing the
Eighth Circuit ruling and will "almost certainly seek further
review of this decision," Johnston said. Further review is
potentially available before the Eighth Circuit itself and at the
U.S. Supreme Court.
pointed out OOIDA’s class-action case against another motor carrier,
Arctic Express, in which U.S. District Court Judge Algenon L. Marbley
(for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division) ruled that
duties imposed on a carrier with regard to the obligations under
its leases are not new. In his opinion, Judge Marbley said the truth-in-leasing
regulations have imposed these obligations on carriers since 1979.
Because a motor carrier’s obligations preceded the 1996 legislation,
enforcing those obligations under the new procedures that became
effective in 1996 does not create impermissible retroactive effects.
In that July 2003 ruling, Judge Marbley dismissed Arctic’s argument
that the statutes should not be retroactively applied to agreements
entered into before the ICCTA effective date.