In a victory for TransAm Trucking, a federal judge recently dropped a class action lawsuit worth a total of more than $120 million against the Olathe, Kansas based carrier of temperature controlled freight
In Blair v. Transam, Judge Eric F. Melgren in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas ended a class action lawsuit against TransAm by decertifying the two classes of drivers in the case. The suit claimed TransAm Trucking misclassified drivers as independent contractors, referred to as “Owner Operators” by TransAm, rather than regular employees, referred to as “Company Drivers.” The court also denied the drivers’ claims regarding minimum wage.
Brought by plaintiffs Larry Blair and Charlie Davis, the suit sought damages for approximately 8,500 drivers in the amount of $100 million dollars, as well as attorney’s fees. Drivers also wanted damages of $22 million and attorney’s fees in their claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act for more than 1,900 drivers.
Filed back in 2009, the lawsuit argued that some drivers were misclassified as owner operators when they should have been classified as company drivers and paid accordingly, in compliance with state and federal law. According to a statement from the company, TransAm uses both employed company drivers and independent contractors to haul cargo for its customers. The company’s contractors were paid significantly more per mile than company drivers under the terms of their contract with TransAm, the statement indicated. TransAm believed this allowed contractors the freedom of operating their independent businesses in ways that were most lucrative.
In a news release, TransAm President Russ McElliot said, “We truly value the relationship with our independent contractor drivers and believe that we have the best program in the industry. One of the hallmarks of our program is to allow the driver to make his or her own business decisions and choices every day. These drivers have different goals and objectives and they make their own decisions based on their goals and objectives. We are certainly pleased that the court recognized this hallmark of our program in this decision.”
No appeal is expected. In another lawsuit against the company, a Kansas court squashed a $90 million claim by Iowa based freight carrier CRST International that TransAm was actively recruiting CRST drivers. CRST has filed an appeal. TransAm operates more than 1,000 tractors and over 1,900 trailers.