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Ooida Sues The Minnesota State Patrol In Support Of Independent Owners and Operators

OOIDA vs. Minnesota State Patrol

Beginning September 14, 2010, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association tried the case of OOIDA v. Minnesota State Patrol in the U.S. District Court for Minnesota.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the OOIDA, it is the professional driver’s association that supports owner-operators, small fleets and professional truckers.

OOIDA vs. Minnesota State Patrol, Mills & Associates Trucking Lawyers Norita Taylor, OOIDA’s media spokesperson, said that it received complaints from member drivers complaining that they were being placed out of service by Minnesota State Patrol investigators.  In spite of the drivers having clean hours of service logs, the investigators were questioning the drivers and taking them off the road claiming that the driver was too fatigued to drive

Ms. Taylor says that OOIDA drivers were reporting that the Patrol would ask them questions about all sorts of things, many of which had nothing to do with fatigue.  Upon further inquiry, OOIDA learned that the individuals who were conducting the fatigue inspections were mere employees of the Patrol, and not state certified peace officers. Drivers were being put OOS because of things such as how many times they used the bathroom at night, types of reading materials, neck size and whether they had a television on board their truck.

Ms. Taylor says that to succeed, OOIDA drivers must have a great deal of business acumen and must watch expenses, taxes and the types of loads they carry.  With that in mind, OOIDA’s members were hard hit by these OOS orders, she said.  OOIDA reports that the majority of trucks on the road are driven by Owner / Operators or in fleets with fewer than 20 trucks.  Ms. Taylor says that being put out of service is a serious situation because truckers can lose their jobs or livelihoods.

According to Ms. Taylor, OOIDA brought suit because it felt that the decisions being made by the fatigue investigators were arbitrary and unfair.  In its suit, OOIDA claimed that the idea of doing fatigue inspections, administered by individuals using a “checklist” was fatally flawed and denied the drivers due process of law.  OOIDA called its own sleep expert who testified that it was impossible for investigators to make a decision about fatigue at the roadside.

The trial ended on September 20, 2010 following closing arguments to Judge Frank Donovan.  The judge has taken the case under advisement and should render a decision soon.  For those who are interested a report of each day of the trial can be found at www.landlinemag.com.

During our interview, I asked Ms. Taylor more questions about the OOIDA and its purposes.  OOIDA promotes communication between drivers and the government.  OOIDA represent the concerns of truckers at all levels of government including testifying before the U.S. Congress.  It also educates truckers regarding the current safety regulations and initiatives such as CSA 2010.

In addition, OOIDA knows that Independent Owner-Operators often struggle in conducting business due to a lack of communication between the driver and the company to whom that driver is leased.  OOIDA has developed an Owner-Operator Bill of Rights based upon the “Truth in Leasing Act” (49 CFR Part 376).  The Bill of Rights sets forth OOIDA’s position on information and records that drivers need to safely and economically conduct their operation.  OOIDA supports drivers in their efforts to enforce their rights under these federal leasing regulations.

Ms. Taylor invites those who want to know more about OOIDA and the additional benefits that it offers to visit its website at www.OOIDA.com.

Mills & Associates Trucking Lawyers 702-240-6060

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