SPECIAL REPORT: Truckers’ attorney grills DAC witnesses

| 8/30/2006

Aug. 30, 2006 - DENVER - During the seventh day of a three-week federal trial pitting truck drivers against DAC Services, the legal team representing the drivers continued its intense cross-examination of DAC employees.

The truckers rested their case Monday and DAC's lawyer, Larry Henry, then began calling witnesses in the U.S. District Court of Judge Robert E. Blackburn in Denver.

Defense witnesses are scheduled to continue through Thursday, Aug. 31, with closing statements expected from the opposing attorneys the day after Labor Day. Blackburn is expected to give detailed instructions to the jury before sending the eight-member panel into deliberations late Tuesday, Sept. 5, or early Wednesday, Sept. 6.

The truckers' lead attorney, Randy Herrick-Stare, worked into the night Tuesday with other attorneys and staff from the Cullen Law Firm to prepare for Wednesday's four DAC witnesses. Herrick-Stare was back at it before dawn Wednesday and as he was headed to the courtroom he told Land Line Magazine that he was "ready to go."

Sounding energized and enthusiastic, Herrick-Stare said he is confident that the truckers' case against the vague, inaccurate consumer reports - known in the transportation industry as DAC reports - will be successful.

Already during the case, Herrick-Stare and fellow attorney Paul Cullen Jr. have asked DAC employees about the nature of DAC reports, both in general terms and in specific cases.

At least three DAC employees have testified under oath that the DAC reports are consumer reports and therefore subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. That has been a key issue since the case was filed in 2004 by the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association.

The truckers want DAC Services Inc. - which does business under the parent company of USIS Commercial Services Inc. - to stop using existing forms and DAC-approved work history descriptors in its business, which is the buying and selling of commercial drivers' personal and professional information.

One key question that Herrick-Stare said the jury will likely be considering is whether DAC Services acted willfully or negligently in its collection and sale of the drivers' information. If the jury finds either to be true, there could be punitive damages assessed against DAC.

Although the case only has a handful of specific truckers named as plaintiffs, its outcome could have an impact on almost five million drivers. According to USIS Services, the DAC database includes records on 4.7 million drivers. Many of those drivers believe they have been "blackballed" or "DAC'd" by the reports, in which previous motor carriers provide information to other motor carriers about drivers.

The founder of the information business commonly referred to as DAC has testified that he sought input only from motor carriers, safety directors, the American Trucking Association and others from the carrier end of the business when he was developing the DAC report forms and definitions for the DAC-approved work history descriptors.

DAC founder Charles Dees said he did not ask any truckers or drivers' associations or unions for input because it didn't matter what they thought, because the forms were by carriers and for carriers.

- By Coral Beach, staff editor