U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker, for the Southern District of Indiana, denied all motions brought by Mayflower Transit Inc. to dismiss two lawsuits filed in 1998 by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and three of its owner-operator members.
"We are very pleased with Judge Barker's ruling on these issues," said Jim Johnston, president of OOIDA. "The courts have recognized that owner-operators have a private right of action against motor carriers under the federal truth-in-leasing regulations. This continues to be our most important instrument in obtaining relief against business practices that are in direct violation of the federal truth-in-leasing regulations."
The first suit claimed violations of the federal truth-in-leasing regulations by the carrier's failure to return fuel-tax credits on a current basis and to return fuel- tax credits and other funds held in escrow accounts to owner-operators within the required time period after their lease agreements had expired.
The second suit alleged that Mayflower unlawfully over-charged owner-operators for insurance products that they purchased through Mayflower, which is also a violation of federal truth-in-leasing regulations.
In its request to dismiss the actions, Mayflower had argued that the plaintiffs had no private right of action under the leasing regulations; that the cases should be deferred to the DOT, and state claims should not be retained after the federal causes of action are dismissed; and that it is not liable because it is not a signatory to any lease agreements between its agents and the individual plaintiffs.