Court rules in C R England/OOIDA dispute

July 1, 2007
The federal court for the District of Utah issued an order in the class action lawsuit filed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA)

The federal court for the District of Utah issued an order in the class action lawsuit filed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) against C R England relating to its current Independent Contractor Operating Agreement (ICOA) and the prior version of that agreement. The court found that England's current agreement (2002-present) does not violate federal truth in leasing regulations.

Dan England, chairman of the board, said, “We are pleased with the court's ruling that our current agreements with our lease drivers are completely lawful and that our drivers can know that there is no issue with their contracts.”

Regarding England's prior lease agreement (1998-2002), the court rejected OOIDA's claims for injunctive and monetary relief. It did find some provisions in violation of the regulations mainly related to non-disclosure of certain charges and deductions. The court ordered England to provide an accounting of deductions of certain moneys from escrow funds of class members under the former lease agreement, and to propose a form of accounting to the court in the next several months.

“I think all truckers and motor carriers should take note of this victory and its affirmation that strict compliance of the regulations is the only acceptable alternative,” said Jim Johnston, OOIDA president and chief executive officer. OOIDA and certain of its members launched the suit against England in 2002, and it was certified as a class action in 2005.

Evidence at trial demonstrated that in autumn 2001, because of pending court challenges brought against other carriers, England began revising its ICOA. In June 2002, just weeks before the revised version (RICOA) was planned for a fleetwide roll out, lawsuit papers were served. Although OOIDA's initial class action on behalf of five-named plaintiff's sought damages and injunctive relief relating to the ICOA, OOIDA subsequently amended its complaint seeking the same as it related to the new RICOA version used by England.

The court rejected OOIDA's request for millions of dollars relating to charge-backs and certain required purchases under the ICOA, such as Qualcomm service, and gave no monetary award to the class related to those violations.

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