October 17, 2002, Grain Valley, MO - A U.S. District Court has denied a motion by Swift Transportation and its subsidiary companies to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). Swift sought dismissal of the action arguing that the plaintiff owner-operators did not have a private right of action under the federal leasing regulations and therefore, the court had no jurisdiction.
In July, 2002, OOIDA and 10 of its owner-operator members filed the class action against Swift Transportation Co. Inc. (AZ), Swift Transportation Co. Inc. (NV), M.S. Carriers Inc. and M.S. Carriers Warehousing Distribution Inc., maintaining the leases of Swift and M.S. Carriers violate the federal truth-in-leasing regulations. The suit alleges the leases fail to contain a number of provisions required by 49 C.F.R.§379.12. The leases also contain provisions in direct conflict with the leasing regulations. The carriers are also accused of failing to provide owner-operators with required documentation for chargebacks against compensation; forced purchase of insurance and other products and services; illegal deductions from escrow accounts; and failure to return escrow accounts within the required time after termination.
In his ruling on the Swift motion, Judge Paul G. Rosenblatt, for the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, rejected the carrier's argument and concluded the court has jurisdiction over the action. In his dismissal, Judge Rosenblatt cited previous decisions in two other OOIDA cases, against New Prime Inc. and Mayflower Transit, which confirmed truckers' private right of action to seek relief against a carrier for violations of the federal leasing regulations.
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals further upheld the ruling in the Prime case.