Oral arguments set for Friday in drivers’ short mile case against Swift

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | 1/23/2012

Oral arguments are scheduled for Friday, Jan. 27, in the class action lawsuit filed by truck drivers against Swift Transportation. The drivers allege they were underpaid based on a “dispatched mile” system, instead of being compensated for actual miles they drove for Swift.

Lead plaintiffs’ attorney, Leonard W. Aragon, of the law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLC, told Land Line on Jan. 20, that two key items will be discussed this Friday, before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge J. Richard Gama. They are “clarifying the scope of the class and whether the case will have to go to arbitration.”

“One is the scope of the class. We have a certified nationwide class consisting of essentially all drivers, but Swift is arguing there are no members of that class because they changed the way their contract read at some point,” Aragon said.

The class is defined as “all persons in the U.S., including those who were operated by Swift as employee drivers on or after Jan. 30, 1998, or contracted with Swift as owner-operator drivers on or after Jan. 30, 1998, who were compensated by Swift by reference to miles driven.” Former Swift Transportation drivers can contact Hagens Bermen by emailing Swift@hbsslaw.com or can call 206-623-7292.

The case, Leonel Garza v. Swift Transportation Co., was originally filed in 2004, after Garza filed a class action complaint against Swift, stating he was paid “per dispatched mile,” and was shorted on his pay. The lawsuit claims that Swift’s use of a mileage calculation software program, the Household Mover’s Guide, shorted drivers’ pay by 7 to 10 percent.

“We have a lot of legal arguments to back us up here because we’ve been litigating this case for several years. They can’t then go, ‘oh, we want to arbitrate,’ because they (Swift) lost essentially on some very important issues,” Aragon said. “We are just waiting to have that hearing and get a couple of these things resolved. As soon as that happens, we are ready to get this thing going and to reach some resolution.”

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