Ohio lawmakers vote to forbid truck contract rule

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/12/2016

An unfair clause in Ohio trucking contracts is one step closer to being outlawed.

The Senate voted 32-1 to advance a bill that would do away with clauses in trucking contracts that are set up to protect shippers or hold them harmless from anything that happens with a shipment.

The bill, HB71, now moves to Gov. John Kasich’s desk. House lawmakers already approved it on a 92-2 vote.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Sen. Kevin Bacon, R-Minerva Park, said the bill would outlaw provisions in contracts that provide for shippers to be indemnified for losses caused by their own negligence.

“Basically what (shippers) are saying is ‘if you’ve done something wrong you’re going to pay. If I’ve done something wrong, you’re going to pay.’

“This practice has gotten out of control,” Bacon said. “This bill would limit that practice.”

Specifically, the bill would prohibit only those indemnification clauses that require the motor carrier to pay for the accidents, injuries, claims, damages, etc., that are caused by the negligent or wrongful acts of the shipper.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, says the bill is a reasonable and fair solution to address existing rules that essentially provide shippers and receivers with immunity from any damage caused by their negligence while a trucker is on their property.

“The bill will prevent all parties to a transportation contract from granting themselves blanket immunity,” he said.

States lawmakers across the country have been active in recent years changing rules on indemnity clauses. To date, 42 states have acted to forbid unfair provisions from contracts.

A full list of states, and the laws, where protections are in place is available. In addition to Ohio, states yet to adopt protections are Delaware, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Affected contracts in Ohio would be defined as “a contract, agreement, or understanding” between a motor carrier and a shipper covering the transportation of property for compensation or hire by the motor carrier, and entry on property to load, unload or transport property.

The protection would not apply to intermodal chassis, or other intermodal equipment.

The bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, previously told House lawmakers the change called for in the bill “is not only fair and equitable, but should also reduce motor carriers’ insurance costs as now they would only be liable for their own actions.”

To view other legislative activities of interest for Ohio, click here.

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