Driver suits against carriers

Jill Dunn | November 09, 2010

Plaintiff attorneys have announced their driver pay lawsuit against Swift Transportation has been given class action status. Meanwhile, the firm is requesting class action certification in a separate suit against Schneider National Carriers. 

On Nov. 4, Judge J. Richard Gama of the Maricopa County Superior Court granted class action status in the driver lawsuit against Swift. Trent Broberg, marketing director for the Arizona-based truckload carrier, had no comment on the litigation.

The lawsuit was filed in 2004, but the Maricopa court initially denied certification as a class action case. Later, the Arizona Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision, but when appealed to the state’s Supreme Court, the court ruled the appellate court lacked jurisdiction to review that decision.  The Supreme Court returned the case to the Maricopa court, which granted the plaintiffs class action status.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys, Seattle-based Hagens and Berman law firm, said the company, which currently operates 16,000 trucks, uses software to calculate drivers’ mileage. The program underestimates mileage, resulting in drivers being underpaid by 7 percent to 10 percent. This practice is a breach of contract and of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, the firm said.
 
Hagens Berman is also lead counsel representing current and former regional drivers seeking class action status in a lawsuit against Wisconsin-based Schneider. The consolidated cases’ plaintiffs contend the truckload, logistics and intermodal service provider failed to pay full wages, mileage and benefits required by state law.

They also allege Schneider, which has 12,300 trucks on the road, used computerized estimates to pay mileage, which fell below the actual distances driven.

Schneider has filed answers to the complaints denying the accusations.

Judge Jeffery White, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, also appointed Marlin & Saltzman law firm to represent dedicated and intermodal drivers against Schneider National in a consolidated action with the regional drivers.

A plaintiff in a separate suit seeking class action status against Schneider on similar grounds made an Oct. 15 request for his case to be included in the consolidated case. The court has set May 2 as the deadline for discovery in the consolidated cases’ proposed class action certification litigation.