Court issues final order in Minnesota fatigue suit

A federal judge ruled his final order stipulating Minnesota troopers respect truckers’ constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure during fatigue enforcement be posted statewide.

On Sept. 21, U.S. Judge Donovan Frank for the Minnesota district upheld his previous order regarding truckers’ Fourth Amendment rights in the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s case against Minnesota State Patrol. Frank required his order be posted conspicuously on locations that include the MSP websites and offices and emailed to every commercial vehicle enforcement officer.

The court will continue jurisdiction of the issue until September 2013.

The court required the patrol rescind driver out-of-service orders for the 17-month period ended Sept. 30, 2010, if based solely on a determination of fatigue, then correct this information in Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration data. The patrol should rescind only the driver fatigue determination and not the out-of service order for drivers criminally convicted for driving fatigue impaired or involved in a motor vehicle crash.

The patrol referred a request for comment to Minnesota’s attorney general office, but no one was immediately available.

The Sept. 21 judgment stated that the MSP’s 2010 General Orders “substantially changed the protocol for the determination of commercial vehicle impairment due to illness and/or fatigue.”

Frank had ruled Jan. 28 that the defendants’ investigation exceeded what the law entitled. The parties met with Magistrate Judge Leo Brisbois several times to mediate remedies but were unable to reach full agreement.

Stephen K. House, owner of Eagle Trucking Enterprises, and OOIDA filed suit after officers pulled House over for a Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance Level III inspection in May 2008. Troopers’ questions included asking what House’s neck size was and if he had specific items in his cab, such as Playboy magazines or food wrappers.

They then placed House, a trucker of 32 years with at least 3 million accident-free miles, out of service for 10 hours.