The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and Bridge Terminal Transport announced Monday, March 5, that a settlement has been reached in OOIDA’s nationwide class action pending in federal court in New Jersey against BTT.
In June 2004, OOIDA and seven of its members filed a class-action lawsuit against the Charlotte, N.C.-based intermodal carrier in federal court on behalf of individual owner-operators, alleging that BTT violated federal truth-in-leasing regulations by failing to disclose or properly document compensation provisions in its lease agreements. The suit also alleged that BTT violated the leasing regulations by failing to disclose fuel- and insurance-related administrative fees in its lease.
Under the terms of the settlement filed with the court in Newark, N.J., BTT will pay $6.25 million to settle all claims, including attorneys’ fees and costs, raised in the lawsuit. The settlement class covers all owner-operators who leased equipment and services to BTT during the period June 2000 through December 2005, about 6,000 drivers. In addition, BTT has agreed to implement a revised lease agreement that contains clearly stated compensation terms and discloses all administrative fees charged back to owner-operators.
“OOIDA believes the settlement with BTT is fair to owner-operators in that it provides for meaningful compensation to class members and because BTT has agreed to modify its lease to provide greater transparency and address the concerns expressed by OOIDA,” says Jim Johnston, OOIDA president. “I am gratified that after two years of litigation, BTT’s owner-operators will have a level playing field in terms of knowing their compensation rates.”
If the court approves the proposed settlement, each class member will receive a settlement award based on the number of days for each truck that the driver had under lease to BTT during the class period, as a percentage of the aggregate amount of days for all trucks leased to BTT during the class period. Bridge Terminal Transport, the largest marine drayage company in the world, operates in the United States and Canada with 44 terminals, 30 container yards and more than 3,300 owner-operator contractors.
“BTT recognizes that owner-operators are vital to the company’s continued growth and success,” says Phil Connors, BTT president. “We believe that we were complying with all the obligations of the law. However, as we prepared to address the lawsuit, it became clear that we had made some mistakes that created the possibility for our owner-operator business partners to suffer a loss. Rather than continuing to argue over the issue, we wanted to fix any errors that may have been made and remove any cause for concern on the part of our independent contractor partners. Settling this case was driven by the value that we place on our relationship with the owner-operator community, which plays a huge role in our success and the success of our national economy. ”