A mixed ruling in Landstar case

A federal appeals court’s ruling in longstanding litigation between the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and Landstar System has left neither side fully satisfied, and each may seek review or clarification of certain aspects of the decision.

Contrary to Landstar’s arguments and a lower court’s ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit said Landstar had not provided the required disclosure of banking fee charges and document charge-back items in its independent contractor leases. The lower court had determined that Landstar must make such disclosures but had further declared that the carrier had complied with the mandate. In addition, the appeals court said the district court incorrectly granted an injunction sealing the pricing information Qualcomm provided to Landstar.

But OOIDA didn’t get what it wanted, either. The appeals court said OOIDA could seek an injunction to prohibit further violations of the disclosure requirements in the federal truth-in-leasing regulations, but it ruled that OOIDA would have to prove actual damages. Moreover, the appeals court upheld the district court’s ruling decertifying the class as to actual damages.

“Landstar is overall very pleased with this decision,” said Michael Kneller, Landstar vice president and general counsel. “The Eleventh Circuit upheld what we believe are the key elements of the District Court’s ruling, which affirmed the validity of Landstar’s current lease.” Kneller said Landstar is evaluating whether to appeal or seek clarification of the additional disclosure information.

OOIDA may ask for the appeals court to rehear the case, said President Jim Johnston. “If the only remedy is an injunction, which basically means the court says ‘hey guys, don’t do that again,’ then there is no deterrent for other carriers to not violate the regs,” Johnston said. “We feel if they didn’t disclose the charges, then they should have to reimburse the owner-operators what they charged them. That would be a deterrent for other carriers.”