Federal Court Allows DataQ Challenge Lawsuit to Proceed
March 03, 2014
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled in favor of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association regarding which court will hear its case on the issue of DataQ challenges.
The court said the association may file a federal district court challenge to the refusal of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to delete from its database references to state safety enforcement actions against truckers.
The lawsuit was filed by OOIDA in May of 2013 on behalf of Fred Weaver, a member who was cited by a Montana Department of Transportation officer for failure to stop at a weigh station. That charge was later dismissed by a Montana state court, but FMCSA denied the member’s DataQ request to have the record of that charge removed from the federal database known as the Motor Carrier Management Information System. It is part of the the FMCSA's Compliance, Safety, Accountability program, through which Safety Measurement System scores are determined for trucking operations.
OOIDA claims truck drivers are entitled to challenge FMCSA’s administration of the DataQs program in federal district court. A similar challenge filed by OOIDA has been pending in federal district court on behalf of four other OOIDA members. However, the Department of Justice said that the case was filed in the wrong court and that only a federal appellate court could hear the drivers’ challenges.
OOIDA filed Weaver's case in the federal appeals court, asking it to rule on the jurisdictional issue and to transfer the case to district court if it agreed with OOIDA’s position. The federal district court hearing the case filed by the other four members stayed further action pending the outcome of this particular appeal.
Paul D. Cullen Sr., attorney for OOIDA and Weaver, was quoted on the association’s publication website Landline.com as saying “The Weaver decision has important implications that go far beyond challenges to Data Q determinations. The FMCSA has been hiding behind uncertainties in the federal jurisdictional statutes for years in order to evade judicial review.”
OOIDA represents more than 150,000 members, who are mainly owner-operators and truck drivers.