Overdrive Staff | December 01, 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.

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, claims the company, which operates 16,000 trucks, uses software that underestimates drivers’ mileage, resulting in underpayment of 7 percent to 10 percent.

Hagens Berman is also lead counsel representing current and former regional drivers seeking class action status in a lawsuit against Schneider. The consolidated cases’ plaintiffs contend the carrier failed to pay full wages, mileage and benefits required by state law. They also allege Schneider used computerized mileage estimates that 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.

— Jill Dunn

Trucker health discussed at conference

Citing Center for Disease Control health statistics, Federal Motor Carrier Administration chief Anne Ferro expressed concern about the health of the American truck driver population.

“It was startling for me to learn commercial truck drivers’ life expectancy is 16 years less than the rest of us,” Ferro told attendees Nov. 8 at the International Conference on Commercial Driver Health and Wellness in Baltimore. “That means in eight years I would be expected to die if I were a commercial driver, at age 61. It’s a startling, frightening and, frankly, untenable figure to for us to carry forward.”

Among the statistics Ferro highlighted:

• Only 10 percent of drivers exercise regularly, compared to almost 60 percent for the general population;

• 54 percent of drivers smoke, compared to 21 percent for the general population;

• 50 percent of truckers are overweight or obese compared to 33 percent of the general population.

“We can’t sustain figures like that and expect individuals to be healthy contributors to their workplace and their families, and from my perspective, safe on the roadways,” Ferro said.

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