Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Inc v. Swift Transportation Co.

January 20, 2011

OWNER-OPERATOR INDEPENDENT DRIVERS ASSOCIATION, INC.;
FRANK BELCHER; MARC MAYFIELD, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
SWIFT TRANSPORTATION CO., INC. (AZ);
SWIFT TRANSPORTATION CO., INC. (NV), DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.
OWNER-OPERATOR INDEPENDENT DRIVERS ASSOCIATION, INC.;
FRANK BELCHER; MARC MAYFIELD, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,
v.
SWIFT TRANSPORTATION CO., INC. (AZ);
SWIFT TRANSPORTATION CO., INC. (NV), DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona Paul G. Rosenblatt, Senior District Judge, Presiding D.C. No. 2:02-cv-01059-PGR D.C. No. 2:02-cv-01059-PGR

The opinion of the court was delivered by: D. W. Nelson, Senior Circuit Judge:

FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Argued and Submitted December 9, 2010-San Francisco, California

Before: Dorothy W. Nelson, David R. Thompson, and M. Margaret McKeown, Circuit Judges.

Opinion by Judge D. W. Nelson

OPINION

Plaintiffs Frank Belcher, Marc Mayfield, and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Inc. ("OOIDA") appeal the district court's order granting summary judgment to Defendants Swift Transportation Co. ("Swift") regarding liability and damages under the Truth-in-Leasing regulations.*fn1

Defendants cross-appeal the district court's finding that the statute of limitations is four years instead of two. We affirm.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Swift is a federally regulated motor carrier that hauls freight in interstate commerce. The named plaintiffs in this case are former owner-operator truck drivers who were hired by Swift to haul freight. Plaintiff OOIDA is a trade association with more than 160,000 members. Owner-operators are truck drivers who contract with motor carriers to provide hauling services; they typically own their own equipment and lease out their trucks and hauling services to carriers on a weekly basis. Frequently, carriers pre-pay the costs of certain goods and services for which the owner-operators are ultimately responsible. These items may include fuel, insurance, tires, and other necessary goods and services. The cost of these items is then deducted from owner-operators' compensation in a process known as a "charge-back." Charge-backs are noted along with compensation on drivers' weekly pay stubs, also known as settlement sheets or statements.

The Department of Transportation ("DOT") is authorized to regulate the relationship between owner-operators and motor carriers, including required terms in their leases. See 49 U.S.C. § 14102(a). The federal Truth-in-Leasing regulations, 49 C.F.R. Part 376, set forth specific requirements with regard to charge-backs in response to concerns that carriers were taking advantage of owner-operators and overcharging them with undisclosed mark-ups on certain items. See OOIDA v. Swift Transp. Co. ("Swift I"), 367 F.3d 1108, 1110 (9th Cir. 2004). The regulations were originally enforced by the Interstate Commerce Commission ("ICC"); now that the ICC has been eliminated, owner-operators have a private right of action to enforce the regulations. See id.; 49 U.S.C. § 14704(a). Section 14704(a)(1) provides a right to injunctive relief, and (a)(2) provides a right to seek damages for injuries "sustained by a person as a result of an act or omission of [a] carrier or broker in violation of this part." 49 U.S.C. § 14704(a).

Plaintiffs brought suit under section 14704(a) against Swift "alleging that the carriers' standard form lease agreements violate the Truth-in-Leasing regulations in various respects." Swift I, 367 F.3d at 1110. Plaintiffs sought declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and damages. As a result of this litigation, Swift revised its leases beginning January 1, 2003. 49 C.F.R. § 376.12(h), provides that [t]he lease shall clearly specify all items that may be initially paid for by the authorized carrier, but ultimately deducted from the lessor's compensation at the time of payment or settlement, together with a recitation as to how the amount of each item is to be computed. The lessor shall be afforded copies of those documents which are necessary to determine the validity of the charge.

The district court found that Swift's form lease agreements used prior to 2003 (the "Old Form" lease), violated the Truth-in-Leasing regulations because they "did not disclose the fact that certain of the charge-backs included a 'mark-up.' " OOIDA v. Swift Transp. Co. ("DC Opinion & Order"), No. CV-02-1059-PHX-PGR, 2007 WL 2808997, at *2 (D. Ariz. Sept. 27, 2007). By contrast, the district court found that Swift's leases entered into on or after January 1, 2003 ("Revised Lease") complied with section 376.12(h) because they disclosed that charge-backs would include certain administrative costs and other fees such as "the cost of the fuel, taxes, other government fees and charges, delivery/freight costs and administrative expenses." See id. at *5-6 & n.11. Swift's Revised Lease also discloses each item that will be subject to a charge-back and either a flat-fee amount for that charge-back or other information relevant to determining the price. Swift's settlement statements (which are similar to pay stubs or receipts) list the amount deducted from owner-operators' compensation. Those amounts match the amount listed earlier on the leases. However, Swift's Revised Lease does not disclose what portion of that price is attributable to costs and what portion is profit, administrative fees, or other charges.

The district court granted in part and denied in part the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. It concluded that, while Swift's Old Form lease violated the Truth-in-Leasing regulations, injunctive relief was not necessary because Swift's current lease complied with the regulations. Id. at *9. It also held that Plaintiffs had failed to prove damages and that restitution and disgorgement were not available under the regulations. Plaintiffs filed a motion to reconsider, which the district court denied on September 15, 2009. OOIDA v. Swift Transp. Co., No. CV-02-1059-PHX-PGR, 2009 WL 2983206 (D. Ariz. Sept. 15, 2009). This appeal followed.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

We review a district court's interpretation of a federal statute de novo, United States v. Migi, 329 F.3d 1085, 1087 (9th Cir. 2003), and we do the same for its grant of summary judgment. Howard v. Everex Sys., Inc., 228 F.3d 1057, 1060 (9th Cir. 2000). In evaluating a motion for summary judgment, we infer all facts in favor of the non-moving party. SEC v. Koracorp Indus., Inc., 575 F.2d 692, 698 (9th Cir. 1978). A district court's decision to grant or deny an injunction is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Id. at 701.

III. THE DISCLOSURE & DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENTS OF 49 C.F.R. § 376.12(h)

Plaintiffs argue that the district court erred in concluding that Swift's Revised Lease complied with 49 C.F.R. ยง 376.12(h). Plaintiffs contend that the Revised Lease (post-2003), while an improvement over the Old Form Lease (pre-2003), nonetheless falls short of compliance with the regulations because it does not disclose ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.