By Sandi Soendker, Land Line managing editor
U.S. Magistrate Judge David Nuffer issued an order in late March that ruled in OOIDA’s favor on a major issue in the classwide accounting in the case of OOIDA v. C.R. England.
Salt Lake City-based C.R. England had been arguing that any moneys tendered to drivers at final settlement constituted the return of escrow funds. OOIDA’s attorneys vigorously opposed this approach as “rewarding the wrongdoer.” Judge Nuffer agreed with OOIDA and rejected C.R. England’s argument.
The court endorsed OOIDA methodology, which maximized the recovery of escrow funds. For example, to the 92 drivers contesting setoffs in the group before Judge Nuffer, he awarded a total of $371,933.79, which includes both unlawfully retained escrow funds and interest.
The impact of the judge’s ruling goes beyond the 92 drivers in this subgroup. The ruling will be applied across the class in the equitable accounting and will result in substantially more damages and interest awarded to individual drivers.
“As good as this decision is, we will be moving to completely exclude any setoffs against escrow funds based on the decision of the Sixth Circuit in the Comerica Bank case,” said OOIDA attorney David A. Cohen. “While the court is not bound to accept the decision of the Sixth Circuit as precedential, the court may consider it persuasive and reach the same conclusion – i.e., that the escrow funds are statutory trusts.”
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