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Truck owner-operator fee dispute stays in federal court

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A lawsuit claiming that hundreds of tractor-trailer owner-operators may be owed damages of more than $5 million will remain in federal court, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

Jurisdiction in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana is proper, the 7th Circuit ruled in affirming Judge Tanya Walton Pratt’s denial of a motion to remand to the state court Hubert E. Walker, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated v. Trailer Transit, Inc., 13-8015. The suit claims drivers are contractually owed 71 percent of certain fees that Trailer Transit charged to shipping customers when it leased big rigs of independent owner-operators.  

Walker appealed removal of the class action from the state court and filing in the federal court, arguing it was untimely. The district court denied the motion, and the 7th Circuit agreed. It held that Walker never provided an unambiguous notice to Trailer Transit that the amount in controversy could be greater than the $5 million threshold for federal class claims.

“So the removal clock never actually started to run,” Circuit Judge Diane Sykes wrote for the panel.   
 

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