Trucking holding company Covenant Transportation Group announced this week it was hit with a sizeable judgement when the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio issued a pre-trial decision in a lawsuit against its operation Southern Refrigerated Transport, relating to a cargo claim that happened in 2008.

The court awarded the plaintiff approximately $5.9 million plus prejudgement interest and costs and denied a motion for summary judgment by Southern Refrigerated Transport, according to Covenant. Previously, the court had ruled in favor of the trucking operation on all but one count, but now it has overturned its earlier decision in favor of the plaintiff.

“At this stage, we are reviewing our options and expect to appeal the decision," said Chairman, President and CEO David R. Parker. If an appeal is unsuccessful, he said, the uninsured portion of the award in excess of Covenant's current reserve is estimated at approximately $7 million to $8 million before tax.

Court records show the freight broker Exel filed suit against SRT following the theft of a shipment of pharmaceuticals that were stolen from a rest area in 2008. The drug maker Sandoz had contracted with Exel to move the freight. Exel originally filed a more than $8.5 million claim against SRT on behalf of Sandoz, the alleged value of the stolen freight, but it was denied by SRT, which argued its liability was much lower.

Parked added the company is determined not to allow the court decision to detract from CTG’s “recent strong financial performance,” which during the second quarter of the year was its best of any quarter in nearly 10 years.

Meanwhile, one of CTG’s other trucking operations, Covenant Transport, announced it has increased pay by around 6% over the past year to attract more certified hazardous materials team drivers. It's also adding what it calls a “peak pay” program for drivers that will run October through January. It is also beginning a tuition reimbursement program that covers up to $15,000 in driver training costs.