Truck drivers awarded $6 million in wage theft suit

A manager may also be held personally responsible for misclassifying drivers in what has been called an “unprecedented decision.”

A group of California port truck drivers were awarded a multi-million dollar settlement as part of an employment misclassification lawsuit.

This week, a group of 24 truck drivers employees by NFI Industries/California Cartage were awarded almost $6 million by the California Labor Commissioner after they were found to have been misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees, according to a report from the Long Beach Post.

Notably, the California Labor Commissioner also found that general manager at National Freight Industries/California Cartage Jim Degraw is to be held jointly liable for the employment misclassification of the truck drivers.

This move to hold Degraw personally accountable for the misclassification of the drivers who worked under him was called an “unprecedented decision” by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Teamsters say that this is the first time that individual liability provision of 2016’s California Senate Bill 588 has been applied in port trucking.

The California Labor Commission has made recent moves to cut down on wage theft against truck driver employees. Earlier this month, they posted a list of port trucking companies with unpaid wage settlements in an attempt to uphold a new California law that would hold shippers responsible for wage theft committed by trucking companies that they employ.

National Freight Industries/California Cartage is the largest trucking company at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach

New York ceases ELD enforcement in wake of OOIDA lawsuit

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor |1/4/2019


In light of the state of New York’s failure to adopt ELD rules into its own state law, commercial vehicle enforcement of the electronic logging mandate in New York is on hold. The move comes following the filing of a lawsuit by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association to stop enforcement of the mandate.

The lawsuit, filed in January 2018, challenges the state’s enforcement of the electronic logging mandate. At the time of the lawsuit, New York was reporting violations of the ELD mandate to state and federal authorities.

After OOIDA’s suit was filed, the state of New York changed its ELD enforcement policies and that change has been recognized by the court.

The New York Supreme Court filed a decision, order, and judgment issued Dec. 31, 2018, recognizing the state of New York’s “current policy that ‘no tickets or notices of violation are to be issued citing the federal ELD regulations, and no violations of ELD rules are to be cited on the inspection report.’”

The court also recognized that the state’s inspectors “will accept ‘either log books or ELD data’ to establish compliance with (hours of service) requirements.” The decision further acknowledged that state inspectors may “not … examine eRODS or transfer any local data from the ELDs during roadside inspections.”

Effectively, the decision explains that the current policy is that law enforcement can look at paper logs or view the screen on the logging device for record of duty status, but they can’t download or transmit the data. Also, the data may only be used for HOS enforcement, not enforcement of the e-logging mandate.

The class action lawsuit filed by OOIDA challenges the authority under which New York was enforcing the ELD mandate.

Each state receives grant money from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to supplement enforcement efforts. To obtain this federal grant money, states agree to adopt the equivalent of the federal motor carrier safety regulations into their own state law. State enforcement officials may only enforce state law. Those officials are not authorized to enforce the federal regulations directly, the complaint states. Nor may state officials enforce laws that do not exist.

The complaint goes on to point out New York has not adopted anything into state law related to the ELD mandate. Therefore, OOIDA is seeking to halt state enforcement of the rule until it is properly incorporated and to stop the conduct of warrantless inspections of ELD data.

“New York’s policy change advances OOIDA’s mission to protect motor carriers and truckers in the face of the ELD mandate,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA’s president. “However, the court’s recent order is appealable and does not resolve other issues associated with the ELD mandate. Those issues include the privacy interests of drivers under the law.”

Importantly, the enforcement policy memorandum relied upon by the New York Court is subject to change by state authorities without notice or review by the public. Therefore, the case is ongoing and OOIDA is committed to continue pursuing the rights of truckers under this troublesome mandate, according to Spencer.

OOIDA’s New York HUT tax lawsuit certified as a class action

9/8/2014

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OOIDA‘s New York HUT tax lawsuit certified as a class action
By Land Line staff

OOIDA’s lawsuit against the state of New York’s Department of Taxation and Finance was certified Sept. 1 as a class action by the state’s Supreme Court, which is the state’s trial court. The lawsuit challenges certain highway taxes as unconstitutional and discriminatory against out-of-state truckers who have paid the taxes in order to do business in New York.

The court found that a class action was appropriate due to the potential number of trucking businesses affected.

OOIDA’s attorneys filed the complaint nearly a year ago in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Albany. The action names the defendants as the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, Thomas H. Mattox (individually and in his official capacity as commissioner), along with the State of New York; and Andrew Cuomo (individually and in his official capacity as governor of the State of New York).

Named plaintiffs in the case are OOIDA and OOIDA Members Bryan Spoon dba Spoon Trucking, Steve Bixler, Jack McComb and William “Lewie” Pugh.

The class action lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of taxes that impose $15 for a certificate of registration and a $4 decal charge on all trucks using New York state highways. The taxes are imposed not only on New York-based trucks, which are driven proportionately higher miles in New York, but also on trucks based outside of New York, which are driven mostly in states other than New York.

OOIDA President Jim Johnston says that trucks owned and/or operated outside of New York travel fewer miles on New York highways than trucks owned and/or operated in New York. The imposition of the challenged taxes results in a higher per mile tax rate being imposed on out-of-state trucks.

OOIDA charges that constitutes an undue burden on interstate commerce in violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Johnston says that OOIDA’s action asks the court to declare those taxes unconstitutional and therefore invalid and not enforceable. The complaint also asks for injunctive relief, refunds and other appropriate relief on behalf of the plaintiffs.

OOIDA’s legal action will represent a class of all interstate motor carriers who reside and operate trucking equipment primarily outside New York who have paid or will pay the taxes.

Johnston called the certification of the class action a “very positive development.”

– See more at: http://www.landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryID=27616#.VDhisv50wdU

The latest lawsuit filed against truck

June 14, 2013

Pilot Flying J

Pilot Flying J (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The latest lawsuit filed against truck stop chain Pilot Flying J — filed June 12 — specifically names as defendants in the case Pilot Flying J owner and CEO Jimmy Haslam and other top executives at the company, in addition to the company itself, following federal accusations against the company that it defrauded carriers out of millions of dollars in owed fuel rebates. Named as defendants in the lawsuit, in addition to Haslam, are John Freeman, Pilot’s vice president of sales; Pilot President Mark Hazelwood; and the company’s national sales director, Brian Mosher.  The suit was filed in the middle district of Alabama by Eagle Motor Freight. The company’s lawsuit relies on for evidence a federal affidavit unsealed April 18, which was used by the FBI to obtain a search warrant to raid the company’s headquarters April 15.  Eagle is a Montgomery County, Ala., based company and said it worked with Pilot since 2009.It is only the second lawsuit so far to mention members of Pilot Flying J’s senior leadership. It, like all but one other of the lawsuits, is a class-action suit. This suit marks at least the 14th suit brought against the company since April 15.  Eagle is suing Pilot for mail fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, breach of contract, deceptive trade practices, unjust enrichment, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation and suppression.  The carrier is seeking for itself and the class actual, consequential, incidental and punitive damages sustained, costs of the suit, attorney’s fees, litigation expenses and court cases, along with equitable and injunctive relief. Like the other suits, it also asks for a jury trial for the case.