Truckers’ team argues DAC case before federal appeals panel

| 11/20/2007

Lawyers for OOIDA and DAC Services Inc. presented oral arguments to a panel of federal judges Thursday, Nov. 15, in the 10th Circuit Appeals Court in Denver in a case that could ultimately impact millions of drivers across the country.

Paul Cullen Sr. who argued the appeal for OOIDA and the plaintiff drivers, commented that the three-judge panel seemed very interested in OOIDA’s argument that the Fair Credit Reporting Act was concerned only with the accuracy of the DAC reports themselves and the procedures used by DAC to assure their maximum possible accuracy.

At the trial, OOIDA objected to the introduction of testimony by DAC concerning what hiring motor carriers do with the reports after they are published.

“Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act an inaccurate DAC report cannot be made more accurate by conversations between hiring and terminating motor carriers after the report is published,” said Cullen. “We believe that the trial court committed reversible error when it admitted testimony as to such post-publication conversations over our objections.

“This allowed DAC’s trial counsel to argue to the jury that such conversations prevented drivers from being injured.”

If the appeals court agrees with OOIDA’s position here, it will likely order a new trial where such irrelevant evidence is excluded.

Filed in July 2004 in U.S. District Court in Colorado, the case is against USIS Commercial Services Inc, which is known to truckers simply as DAC. The case, in part, challenged whether DAC received “termination record forms” from motor carriers without the permission of the subject drivers, and willfully failed to follow reasonable practices to ensure maximum accuracy of the reports that it sells to motor carriers.

Judge Robert E. Blackburn denied class-action status in May 2006. The trial began in late August 2006, but halfway through Blackburn threw out two of the six individually named trucker plaintiffs and dismissed three of their four counts against DAC. On Sept. 5, a jury found in favor of DAC on the remaining count for all four of the remaining plaintiffs.

The issues on appeal go to the heart of DAC’s business operation: Whether, under the law, DAC can purchase reports from motor carriers about drivers without the drivers’ permission, and whether DAC can rely upon telephone calls between motor carriers to satisfy DAC’s legal obligation to maximize the accuracy of DAC reports.

The case could ultimately have an impact on virtually every driver on the road because of the extensive database that DAC has and the large number of motor carriers that subscribe to its services.

– By Land Line staff