Fighting for Fair Pay

CRST Independent Contractor Driver Litigation

About This Case

This lawsuit is brought as a nationwide class and collective action on behalf of truckers who drove for CRST’s Expedited division and were treated as “owner operators” or “lease operators” by CRST. The lawsuit claims that CRST misclassifies these drivers as “independent contractors” when they are actually employees and then makes unlawful deductions from their wages that result in minimum wage violations. Plaintiffs seek unpaid wages as secured by the Fair Labor Standards Act (minimum wages), liquidated (double) damages, and costs and attorneys’ fees, as well as declaratory relief.  The initial complaint was filed on January 17, 2020 in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

 

Status Reports

Case Update - Posted June 6, 2024

New Trial Date and Decisions on Parties’ Motions for Partial Summary Judgment and CRST’s Motion for Decertification

The trial has been postponed and is now scheduled to begin on November 4, 2024.

On May 28, 2024, the Court issued its decision on our motion for partial summary judgment and CRST’s motions for partial summary judgment and decertification. The decision can be read here. Below, please find a summary of Judge Williams’ findings on each motion.

Plaintiffs’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment

Judge Williams granted our request for summary judgment that CRST violated the federal Truth In Leasing Act (TILA) by failing to provide its Lease Operators with copies of the freight bill or any other documents containing the same information, resulting in Lease Operators being underpaid. The only issue the Court will need to decide at trial for our TILA claims will be the amount of damages that CRST owes Lease Operators. The Court denied our motion for summary judgment that Lease Operators were employees under federal and state law; however, the Court found that each of the six factors under the “economic realities test,” which is used to determine if a worker is an employee under the law, weighs in our favor. The issue of whether Lease Operators were employees under federal and state law will be decided at trial.

CRST’s Motion for Decertification

Judge Williams denied CRST’s motion for decertification, which sought to prevent the case from proceeding as a class action.

CRST’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment

The Court denied CRST’s motion for summary judgment on whether Lease Operators who worked for CRST after July 1, 2020 were exempt from Iowa state’s minimum wage law under the owner-operator exemption. The Court denied CRST’s motion for summary judgment on the Named Plaintiffs’ individual claims for unlawful deductions and fraud under Iowa law, but granted summary judgment on the Named Plaintiffs’ individual claims for unjust enrichment under Iowa law. Regarding CRST’s argument that a two-year statute of limitations should apply to Lease Operators’ minimum wage claims under federal and state law, the Court: ; and b) denied CRST summary judgment on the issue of whether CRST acted willfully under in misclassifying Lease Operators and whether a 3-year statute of limitations should apply to the FLSA claims.

Case Update - Posted March 8, 2024

Discovery Completed

As of July 24, 2023, the parties completed the fact discovery period of the lawsuit.  This is the stage of the lawsuit in which each side can request information from one another in the form of written questions, requests for documents, and depositions. In response to CRST’s written discovery requests, 59 Lease Operators submitted written answers to questions and produced relevant documents. CRST also deposed the Named Plaintiffs and 26 Lease Operators.  In turn, we deposed four fact witnesses for CRST, three corporate representatives, and a former driver manager. We also deposed two additional CRST corporate representatives regarding CRST’s electronically stored information, or data. In response to our written discovery requests, CRST produced over 80,000 pages of documents and millions of rows of data.

On January 12, 2024, the parties completed expert witness discovery and reports.

Mediation

On January 19, 2024, the parties met with Mediator Michael Russell in an attempt to resolve the claims. The parties were unable to reach a settlement during the mediation session, and the case is moving forward in litigation.

Dispositive Motions

On January 31, 2024, we filed a motion for partial summary judgment. Our motion asserts that the Court should grant us summary judgment and find that the Lease Operators were employees under federal and state law, and that CRST violated the TILA by failing to disclose the required information to Lease Operators that appeared on rated freight bills, resulting in Lease Operators being underpaid.

CRST also filed a motion for partial summary judgment. The deadline to finish briefing our motions for partial summary judgment is March 20, 2024.

Trial

The case is scheduled to begin a trial before Judge Williams, in Iowa’s Northern district court, in Cedar Rapids, on July 1st, 2024.

Court Grants Plaintiff’s Motion for Class Certification for Violations of Iowa Minimum Wage Law and the Truth in Leasing Act - Posted August 24, 2022

In December 2021, Plaintiffs asked the Court to certify several claims for class treatment.  In June, the Court granted class certification for only part of Plaintiffs’ Iowa Minimum Wage claims. Plaintiffs asked the Court to reconsider its decision and certify all of the Iowa Minimum Wage Claims as well as the Truth in Leasing Act Claims. On August 16, 2022, Judge Williams granted Plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration. Click here to see the Court’s Order. As a result, all Drivers who are class members will be part of the case. Notice of the class action and the right to opt out of the class will be sent to class members. Anyone who wants to remain part of the case to recover back wages and other damages does not need to take further action. If you already filed a consent to sue to bring your Fair Labor Standards Act claim in this case, the upcoming notice will not affect that claim, which remains part of the case. This notice relates to different claims, specifically Iowa State minimum wage claims and Truth in Leasing claims.

Discovery Phase of Lawsuit – Posted January 18, 2022

We are currently in the “discovery” phase of the lawsuit, during which the parties exchange information. As part of discovery, the named Plaintiffs and a third Driver have already responded to extensive written questions and document requests and sat for full day depositions

We have negotiated a less burdensome discovery process for the rest of the Opt-In Plaintiffs, in which the parties will randomly select 55 Opt-In Plaintiffs, plus 5 of CRST’s choice, who will be required to respond to a maximum of five written questions and ten document requests. If you are selected, we will contact you and walk you through the discovery process. It is important that you work with us to complete the discovery if you are selected. Otherwise, you may be dismissed from the case.

Plaintiffs file Motion for Class Certification – Posted January 18, 2022

On December 15, 2021, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Class Certification on the claims of fraud, misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, Truth in Leasing Act Violations, Iowa Minimum Wage Violations, and Unlawful Deductions in Violation of Iowa Law. After the all the briefing is filed, the Court will decide whether to grant the motion. We do not know how long that will take, but we will let you know the Judge’s decision as soon as we receive it.

Court Grants in Part and Denies in Part Defendants’ Partial Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. - Posted March 8, 2021

On February 4, 2021, Judge Williams issued an Order denying CRST’s motion to dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims for fraud, and unjust enrichment, and found that CRST International should remain in the case as a Defendant, (click here to read the Order). The Court also denied Defendants’ motion to dismiss some of the federal Truth in Leasing Act (TILA) claims and granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiffs’ TILA claim that Defendants failed to compensate Plaintiffs as specified in the ICOA.

Court Approves Plaintiffs’ Motion to Conditionally Certify a Fair Labor Standards Act Collective Action and to Issue Notice - Posted March 8, 2021

On January 25, 2021, Judge Williams issued an Order conditionally certifying this case as a collective action, (click here to read the Order). authorizes Plaintiffs to send a Notice to all potential collective members (all drivers who drove for CRST Expedited, Inc. at any time on or after October 23, 2017 pursuant to an Independent Contractor Operating Agreement (ICOA) and who have not leased more than one truck at a time to CRST explaining their right to join the case, (click here to read the Notice.). To facilitate the sending of the Notice, the ruling also directed Defendants CRST International, Inc. and CRST Expedited, Inc. to provide names and contact information of all potential collective members to Plaintiffs’ Counsel (Getman, Sweeney & Dunn). Plaintiffs’ Counsel will send the Notice to drivers by mail and email by March 8, 2021.

Motion to Certify Class - Posted November 3, 2020

On October 23, 2020, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Conditionally Certify a FLSA Collective Action and asked the Court to find that lease operator drivers who drove for CRST in the Expedited division are “similarly situated” to the Named Plaintiffs in this case. Similarly situated means that the drivers were subject to the same illegal policies and practices as the named Plaintiffs and therefore have the same claims against Defendants. The Plaintiffs requested the court order that notice to join the lawsuit be sent to similarly situated drivers, that is, all drivers who entered into an independent Contractor Operator Agreement. You can read the Motion here.

Plaintiffs are awaiting a response from the Defendants and a Ruling from the Judge on these recent filings.

Amended Complaint - Posted November 3, 2020

On October 23, 2030, Plaintiffs filed a Third Amended Complaint on behalf of lease operator drivers who drove for CRST Expedited, Inc. The lawsuit claims that CRST misclassified drivers as Independent Contractors and failed to pay the minimum wages required by federal and state law, made unlawful deductions from pay, unjustly enriched itself through the use of unconscionable contracts, fraudulently induced drivers to become lease/owner operators, and violated the Truth in Leasing Act. For more details on these claims, you can read a copy of the Third Amended Complaint here.

Amended Complaint – Posted September 25, 2020

On, September 18, 2020, Getman, Sweeney & Dunn, PLLC filed an amended complaint on behalf of the plaintiffs in the District of Iowa. This means that the original form of the complaint has changed. The amended complaint includes drivers who drove for the Expedited division that CRST misclassified as independent contractors.  You can see the Complaint by clicking here.

Case Transferred – Posted August 19, 2020

On August 5, 2020, Judge Saris found that the case should be heard in the US District Court for the Northern District of Iowa and transferred the case there.  This means that the case will continue in Iowa.

Answers to Common Questions - Posted January 22, 2020

What claims are covered in this lawsuit?

The lawsuit claims that CRST treated so-called “owner operators” as independent contractors when they were really employees of CRST as a matter of law. As such, CRST failed to pay all the wages due, and made unlawful deductions from truckers’ pay for truck lease payments, gas, equipment, maintenance, insurance, tolls, Qualcomm, and bonding, etc.

What remedies are sought?

Under the federal minimum wage law, back pay and an equal amount of liquidated damages are claimed for each violation.

How far back can claims be made?

Generally, claims can be made for at least the three years preceding the date the complaint was filed. You are entitled to file FLSA claims for the period extending back three years from the date you file the form. Federal forced labor claims have a ten-year limitation period.

Do I have to pay to join the case?

No. The attorneys are handling this case on a contingent basis and will only be paid if and when we win through a settlement or final judgment. When plaintiffs win a pay case, the defendant must pay the plaintiffs’ costs and attorneys’ fees.

Can I wait to file my Consent to Sue Form?

Your claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act are not covered in the case until your Consent to Sue form is returned to the plaintiffs’ attorneys and filed with the Court. If you delay in filing the Consent to Sue Form, part or all of your claim may be barred by the “statute of limitation.”

Can CRST fire me or take action against me for joining the lawsuit?

The law prohibits retaliation for joining a pay lawsuit. If any employee suffers retaliation, CRST would be liable for double the injury caused by retaliation against an employee. Notify us immediately if you hear of any threats of retaliation or if you think any retaliation occurs. Retaliation is extremely rare in overtime cases, because an employer can suffer such serious penalties.

What locations are covered by this lawsuit?

Past and present truckers driving for CRST as “owner operators” anywhere in the U.S. may be included in this lawsuit.

Who Are the Lawyers Representing the Plaintiffs in this Case?

Getman, Sweeney & Dunn, PLLC; Martin & Bonnett, PLLC; and Edward Tuddenham are representing the Plaintiffs in this case.

Case Inquiry

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