ILNews

A chargeback isn't a sale of insurance

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held today that a chargeback for the cost of insurance is not a sale of insurance, as some owner-operators of leased trucks argued. The Circuit Court also took issue with the District judge’s decision on which statute of limitations applied to the parts of the suit.

In Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Inc., et al. v. Mayflower Transit, LLC, No. 08-1679, some owner-operators of trucks leased by Mayflower Transit challenged the company’s policy of reducing price-per-mile payments and other fees by the cost of insurance, a process called chargeback. They argued under 49.U.S.C. Section 14704(a)(2) that a chargeback violates 49 C.F.R. Section 376.12(i), which says “the lessor is not required to purchase or rent any products, equipment, or services from the authorized carrier as a condition of entering into a lease arrangement.” The owner-operators claimed the requirement to reimburse Mayflower for the insurance is the same thing as buying insurance from Mayflower.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker dismissed some of the plaintiffs’ claims for relief after finding that the statute of limitations is two years, even though Section 14704(a)(2) didn’t define a period of limitations for suits on its authority. The owner-operators argued that the residual statute of limitations allows for a four-year period.

Judge Barker held that a chargeback for the cost of insurance isn’t a sale of insurance. She also thought the failure of Section 14705(c), which states a two-year statute of limitations under Section 14704(b), but doesn’t mention Section 14704(a)(2), was a scrivener’s error and that it could be corrected by reading the reference to (b) as if it were referring to (a)(2).

This was a problematic approach, wrote Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook, because Congress enacted and the president signed a statute that places a two-year limitation on administrative complaints under (b), but left (a)(2) to the four-year residual statute of limitations.

“A judge’s belief that Congress planned to do something different but bollixed the job does not alter what the enacted statute provides,” he wrote. “The Constitution gives the force of law only to what is actually passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President. What Congress meant to do, but didn’t, is not the law.”

Two other Circuit Courts have also addressed this subject and found that (b) must be enforced as written and the period of limitations for suits under (a)(2) is four years.

The 7th Circuit also affirmed that a chargeback is not considered a sale of insurance and does not violate Section 376.12(i). Chief Judge Easterbrook noted that the 8th Circuit reached the same conclusion on chargebacks and no other Court of Appeals has held otherwise. The judges remanded for any further proceedings that may be required by their ruling on the limitations issue.

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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