USA Truck loses agent commission suit

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Van Buren, Ark.-based USA Truck Inc. faces about $4.5 million in damages, interest and attorneys fees after an unsuccessful appeal of a jury verdict finding the carrier in violation of its obligations to pay commissions to an agent on an account the agent originally brought to the trucking company. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit last month upheld the jury’s judgment, which included nearly $3 million in breach-of-contract claims and $1 million in attorneys fees being awarded to All-Ways Logistics.

The case revolves around a freight account with Rheem Manufacturing that All-Ways originally brought to USA Truck under a 1999 agreement that provided for a 5 percent concession. In 2002, USA Truck notified All-Ways that its services no longer were needed on the Rheem account and that the carrier no longer would pay commission on it. Instead, USA Truck’s USA Logistics subsidiary would be contracting directly with Rheem. Eventually, USA Truck cancelled the concession agreement altogether in October 2005.

The appeals court rejected USA Truck’s contention that All-Ways waived USA Truck’s breach of the commission agreement as to the Rheem account by continuing to accept commission payments for shipments made on other accounts. The court also declined to overturn the one-third contingent attorneys fees, which resulted in a payment of more than $1 million.