UPDATE: OOIDA anticipates precedent-setting win against Supervalu

| 6/1/2009

OOIDA, Joe Rajkovacz and Carl Schaefer Jr. – plaintiffs in a class action that accused a grocery retail giant of coercive unloading practices – reached a tentative settlement in May with Supervalu Inc.

The settlement, if approved by the court, would permanently enjoin Supervalu from certain practices.

The legal action, filed in 2005 in the U.S. District Court for Minnesota, challenged Supervalu’s policy of requiring drivers to show proof of insurance coverage grossly over and above what was required by federal statute and regulation. Without that insurance, truckers had no choice but to use the only lumping service available to unload Supervalu’s cargo; they could not unload it themselves.

OOIDA member and plaintiff Joe Rajkovacz said the proposed settlement agreement made unnecessary a trial scheduled for mid-May. Rajkovacz, who is also OOIDA’s regulatory affairs specialist, described the outcome as “one that bears hefty significance for truck drivers.”

“For all truckers, this settlement means that the practice by receivers of posting ludicrous insurance requirements as a method of forcing them to pay for unloading is a violation of the unloading statute,” he said.

The case is being handled for OOIDA by the Association’s litigation counsel in Washington, DC.

“Because the case is a class action, it cannot be settled without court approval,” said Randy Herrick-Stare, trial attorney for The Cullen Law Firm.

Herrick-Stare said the proposed settlement contemplates the entry of an injunction; an appeal of, among others, a district court ruling that the unloading statute does not provide a remedy of restitution (reimbursement) for wrongly required payments by drivers to lumpers; and the deferring until after the appeal of any award of attorney fees.

In addition, Herrick-Stare said the parties jointly will request the court to provide preliminary approval of the terms of the settlement, order notice of its terms to be provided to the class, and set a date for a “fairness hearing” at which time any members of the class opposing the settlement may be heard.

“Those in the supply-chain that view truckers as a profit center when it comes to unloading would be wise to reconsider their policies,” said OOIDA’s Rajkovacz, anticipating a speedy approval by the court.

 – By Sandi Soendker, managing editor