OOIDA sues Supervalu over lumping fees

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The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association recently filed a lawsuit in federal court in St. Paul, Minn. against the Supervalu grocery store chain, claiming the store is practicing illegal lumping procedures. The suit, filed Dec. 6, could involve an unknown number of truckers who delivered to the grocer since March 2005.

Supervalu introduced tougher insurance requirements this year, “and basically we interpreted those requirements as a means for illegally requiring drivers to pay for unloading services,” says Jim Johnston, OOIDA president. “We had guys paying $60 to $70 to get a couple of palettes taken off their trucks.” Supervalu officials did not return phone calls concerning the lawsuit.

Johnston says Supervalu now requires truckers to have high liability insurance premiums – $1 million aggregate for general liability, $1 million per occurrence, $1 million employer’s liability workers compensation and $1 million for combined single-limit auto liability insurance. If they cannot show proof of such coverage, Supervalu would unload the cargo, but only after a fee was paid.

“Since we filed the suit, they now only require the standard $750,000 liability coverage that everyone must have, and [they] gave the hand palette jacks free of charge,” Johnston says. Those changes don’t mean OOIDA is backing off, he says. “The issue now is making that a court-instructed requirement because they can always go back to the other requirements. And we want money for the drivers for those illegally extorted monies.”