BTT, OOIDA reach $6.25 million settlement for owner-operators
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Inc. has reached a $6.25 million settlement in a class action lawsuit against Bridge Terminal Transport Inc., an affiliate of Maersk and the world's largest marine drayage company in the world.
The OOIDA and seven of its members filed the suit in June 2004. It alleged that BTT, which employs about 3,000 owner-operators, violated federal truth-in-leasing regulations by failing to disclose or properly document compensation provisions in its lease agreements. At one time, the lease agreement said that compensation would be given according to “Schedule B,” but there was no “Schedule B” outlined in the agreement. The suit also alleged that BTT violated the leasing regulations by failing to disclose administrative fees, such as fuel, in its lease.
The money allotted in the settlement will cover attorney's fees and costs as well as all owner-operators who leased equipment and services to BTT between June 2004 and December 2005. The 6,000 drivers involved with the lawsuit will be paid a portion of the settlement in relation to the number of days for each truck that each driver worked under lease to BTT.
To avoid future issues such as this, BTT has agreed to implement a revised agreement with its owner-operators. The new lease agreement will clearly sate compensation terms and disclose administration fees.
BTT President Phil Connors said: 'It became clear that we had made some mistakes that created the possibility for our owner-operator business partners to suffer a loss. Rather than continuing to argue over the issue, we wanted to fix any errors that may have been made and remove any cause for concern on the part of our independent contractor partners.”
“BTT stepped up and took actions to correct any problems,” said David Cohen of the Cullen Law Firm, representatives for the OOIDA. He said he hopes the settlement would cause other transport companies to be more careful in following federal law.
The case was held in Newark Federal Court because BTT's first terminal was headquartered in the Port of Newark before moving to Charlotte, N.C.