The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association this week gained class certification from two separate federal district courts in actions filed against C.R. England and Landstar over their owner-operator leases.
Together, the lawsuits could include more than 25,000 owner-operators – including about 23,000 at Landstar – seeking damages for alleged violations of the federal truth-in-lending regulations, OOIDA said. Class certification doesn’t validate the merits of a claim but rather determines that a particular group of parties are similarly situated and may sue as one.
OOIDA’s complaint against C.R. England, filed in Utah, alleges conflicts with federal regulations, mishandling of escrow accounts, forced purchase of goods and services, overcharges for insurance, and undocumented chargebacks. The class certified by the district judge includes owner-operators leased to C.R. England at any time between June 1998 and the present.
The complaint against Landstar, filed in Florida, alleges failure to disclose required information, overcharges for fuel and transaction fees related to fuel, unlawful deductions related to military shipments, and overcharges for base plates and permits issued by the states. The class certified includes all owner-operators who were leased to Landstar operating companies Ranger, Ligon and Inway at any time from Nov. 1, 1998 to the present.
Landstar quickly announced that it would appeal the certification ruling. The carrier noted that in addition to high-paying freight and access to a large network of freight opportunities, its business capacity owners (BCOs), as Landstar calls its independent contractors, are eligible for discount purchasing programs to help reduce costs.
“Given the extensive compensation-related disclosures that Landstar routinely provides BCOs, you have to wonder if OOIDA is simply out to use the courts to gain a competitive advantage as it sells – presumably, at a significant mark-up – many of the same products and services that Landstar facilitates for its BCOs,” said Bob LaRose, Landstar executive vice president and chief financial officer.