Safety & Compliance

ATA Asks Supreme Court to Review Contract Dispute Case

March 23, 2000

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Should owner-operators be allowed to sue carriers over violation of of federal leasing rules? The American Trucking Assns. says no and has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the issue.

Prior to the 1995 Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act, the ICC was responsible for enforcing federal rules regarding carrier leases with owner-operators. If an owner-operator felt that a carrier had violated those rules, he had to take his case to ICC authorities. Unfortunately, lack of adequate budget and staff meant that fewer complaints were ever investigated.
The U.S. Department of Transportation as well as Owner-Operator Independent Driver Assn., which has several contract-related suits pending on behalf of its members, maintains that the Act gave individuals the right to sue carriers without stopping first at a regulatory authority. ATA disagrees. So does Missouri-based truckload carrier New Prime Inc., which has asked the Supreme Court to reconsider a lower court’s decision that sides with DOT and OOIDA.
In a “friend of the court” brief recently filed by ATA, the organization argued that the ICC Termination Act didn’t change the law, it merely transferred enforcement of leasing rules from the ICC to DOT. ATA also contends that court action regarding lease contract disputes is allowed only to enforce DOT orders.
The Supreme Court is expected to decide within the next 60 days if it will hear the case.

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