U.S. District Court Judge Paul A. Magnuson of Minnesota has granted the motion for a class certification of owner-operators, the plaintiffs, against Saturn Transportation Systems Inc. and its affiliate, Saturn Transportation Systems L.L.C.
Plaintiffs Eric Sheinhartz, Charles Albert and Jeffery Parkinson claim that Saturn Inc. and Saturn Transportation Systems were collusively skimming money from them by generating two sets of invoices, one sent to the customer and a "dummy" invoice given to them of which their percentage of compensation was based upon.
The suit claims that the linehaul amount charged on the invoices given to the customers was substantially greater than the linehaul amount charged on the corresponding dummy invoice shown to the owner-operator.
Saturn Inc. claims that two invoices always exist when a transaction is brokered and that the owner-operators were aware of the fact that brokers make their money by charging customers more for a load than the carrier charges. The plaintiffs claim, however, that Saturn's brokerage affiliate had no brokerage authority until after the lawsuit was commenced. Records indicate a license was obtained in December 2000.
The plaintiffs also claim that the invoices sent to the customers showed the motor carrier's Federal license number. Claims were also made that Saturn Inc.'s misconduct represents both a breach of the individual lease agreements and a violation of several federal regulations and a Minnesota statute. It is claimed that Saturn Inc. failed to clearly state the amount to be paid by the authorized carrier for equipment and driver's services and also failed to make timely payments.