OOIDA Files Two More Leasing Lawsuits

June 17, 2002

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The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Assn. has filed two new lawsuits against motor carriers for alleged violations of the federal leasing regulations.

Two new lawsuits, one against C.R. England and the other against Swift Transportation and M.S. Carriers, were filed in response to member complaints involving non-compliant leases and what OOIDA calls “a continuous pattern of improper business practices.”
On June 4, OOIDA and five of its members filed a class action complaint against C.R. England Inc., Salt Lake City. Joining OOIDA in the complaint are five of its members.
The complaint contends the carrier's lease agreements fail to include certain provisions that are required by the federal truth-in-leasing regulations, while incorporating other provisions that conflict with the truth-in-leasing regulations.
It also alleges that C.R. England's leases have enabled the motor carrier to engage in "inequitable and unlawful business practices."
C.R. England's alleged violations include forced purchases of insurance and satellite communications services from the company, the failure of the carrier to provide insurance documents upon request, unsubstantiated chargebacks to compensation, and the failure to return escrow accounts.
When contacted about the lawsuit by, C.R. England officials declined to comment on the suit.
A complaint also was filed June 11 against Swift Transportation Co. Inc. of Arizona and its subsidiaries, Swift Transportation Co. Inc., M.S. Carriers Inc. and M.S. Carriers Warehousing Distribution Inc., all of Nevada.
The class action suit was filed by OOIDA and 10 members.
The suit maintains that the leases of Swift and M.S. Carriers are in gross violation of the federal truth-in-leasing regulations. The lease contracts fail to contain a long list of provisions required by 49 C.F.R.§376.12, according to OOIDA. The leases also contain provisions in direct conflict with the leasing regs, according to OOIDA.
In addition, the carriers are accused of failing to provide owner-operators with required documentation for chargebacks, forced purchase of insurance and other products and services including a $25 per week settlement processing fee, $15 per month for TripPack services, mailbox charges for use of required Qualcomm systems, and required installation fees for the Qualcomm; illegal deductions from escrow accounts; and failure to return escrow accounts within the required time after termination.
OOIDA’s suit also claims that owner-operators leased to M.S. Carriers at the time of that company's takeover by Swift were victimized through the carrier's failure to return their escrow accounts that had been deposited with M.S. Carriers. The complaint asserts that, rather than observing termination contract procedures contained in their lease agreements at the time of the takeover and returning the balances of funds held in escrow, Swift replaced M.S. Carrier contracts with their own lease agreements.
M.S. Carriers and Swift officials did not return repeated calls for comment Monday.

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