Swift’s Appeal of January 2017 Ruling — Posted June 15, 2017

On May 24th, 2017, Swift filed an appeal to the Arizona District Court’s Order and Opinion (Jan. 2017) in which the District Court ruled that the five named-plaintiff drivers are employees, not independent contractors as a matter of law, for the purposes of § 1 of the Federal Arbitration Act. That ruling was important for many reasons — first, it prevented the case from being sent to arbitration, and second, the Court agreed with Plaintiffs that drivers are employees as a matter of law. Swift’s appeal does not dispute that the District Court reached the correct decision. Instead, Swift argues that the District Court erred by considering the Lease as well as the “Contractor Agreement” in reaching its decision. The drivers’ response to the appeal brief is due on Thursday, June 22nd, and Swift has until July 7th to file their response. Once the appeal is fully briefed the court may or may not assign a date for oral argument.

The Drivers have moved to renew (883) their Collective Action Motion (105), which is fully briefed by both sides, and have moved for Class Certification of a nationwide class of Lease Operators (884). If class certification is granted, notice will issue to all drivers who may have eligible claims. However, over Plaintiffs’ objections, the District Court stayed the case for the duration of the appeal. Plaintiffs moved the Court to lift the stay in order to require Swift to provide names and contact information for all drivers who may be able to participate in this case, and the Court required Swift to provide this information by June 19th.

Trucking Co. Driver Contract Row Paused For 9th Circ. Review

Law360, New York (February 27, 2017, 6:28 PM EST) — An Arizona federal judge agreed Friday to hit pause on a proposed class action alleging Swift Transportation Co. Inc. misclassified its drivers as independent contractors until the Ninth Circuit hears the trucking giant’s challenge to a recent ruling that its drivers’ contractor agreements were contracts of employment.
Senior U.S. District Judge John W. Sedwick granted Swift’s request to stay all proceedings in the long-running dispute, including a pending motion to certify the class, until the Ninth Circuit considers the judge’s Jan. 5 denial of the trucking company’s motion to compel arbitration.

Swift is challenging Judge Sedwick’s decision to weigh the terms of the contracts between the five truck driver plaintiffs and Swift, as well as the terms of the lease agreements between the plaintiffs and Interstate Equipment Leasing — Swift’s equipment and truck leasing affiliate — in concluding that Swift’s drivers’ contractor agreements were contracts of employment, making them exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act.

“Here, while the court believes its conclusion is correct, it recognizes that the appeal presents serious legal questions as to how a court should properly determine whether a contract of employment existed,” Judge Sedwick said. “Indeed, the Ninth Circuit stated that the issue was one of first impression.”

Judge Sedwick in January ruled that the plaintiffs had contracts of employment making them exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act and the Arizona Arbitration Act, and rejected Swift’s bid to force the fight into arbitration. The judge weighed factors such as the extent of Swift’s control over the drivers, the payment structure, opportunity for profit and loss, autonomy, duration of relationship, and type of work to be done by the drivers to determine an employment relationship existed.

In a separate order also issued Friday, Judge Sedwick denied the plaintiffs’ request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction blocking Swift from requiring current contract drivers, known as lease operators, to sign a new independent contractor operating agreement before March 1. The plaintiffs had argued that some of the language in that new agreement was problematic, particularly two new provisions the company inserted that set forth payment and indemnification obligations in the event of a “reclassification decision” in this case.

They claimed that the two challenged provisions in the new agreement are misleading and confusing to current lease operators because they suggest that participating in the instant class action could mean that they’d end up having to pay damages and attorneys’ fees, according to the order. That kind of misunderstanding potentially undermines the plaintiffs’ prospects for getting putative class members to participate, the drivers claimed.

The judge agreed that the provisions were misleading and confusing, and required Swift to correct some of the language in a notice it was sending out to those contract drivers.

“Here, an employee who signs an agreement does not understand the legal subtleties that could affect how those provisions are applied after the resolution of this class action and may well believe that he now has to avoid participation in the case or risk financial harm,” the judge said in the order.

The judge said two paragraphs in the new agreement seemed to suggest that an improper method of damage calculation and fee shifting could lead to class members owing Swift money regardless of the outcome of this litigation. As such, the judge ordered Swift to send out a corrective notice explaining that the payment obligations and indemnification provisions will not apply to the calculation of remedies and attorneys’ fees that may be awarded in this case.

The judge declined to issue an injunction blocking Swift from engaging in future contact with putative class members regarding matters in this suit, as the plaintiffs had requested, saying it was “unnecessarily restrictive,” according to the order.

Swift is now hoping for the Ninth Circuit to back its push for the dispute, which dates back to 2009, to be heard in arbitration. Swift is the largest truckload motor carrier in North America with more than 45 terminals in the U.S. and Mexico. It has maintained that its drivers are properly classified as independent contractors, and their contractor agreements contained a clear provision that any disputes over the agreements would be taken up in arbitration.

The district court had previously granted the company’s arbitration request in 2010, prompting the drivers to appeal to the Ninth Circuit. That earlier appeal resulted in a split decision last year, with the panel sending the dispute back down to the district court to have it first figure out whether the drivers’ contractor agreements constituted contracts of employment before deciding whether the fight was even exempted from arbitration under the FAA.

Counsel or representatives for the parties were not immediately available for comment on Monday.

The plaintiffs are represented by Dan Getman of Getman & Sweeney PLLC, attorney Edward Tuddenham, and Susan Martin, Daniel Bonnett and Jennifer Kroll of Martin & Bonnett PLLC.

Swift Transportation and the other defendants are represented by Paul S. Cowie, Kevin M. Cloutier, Robert Mussig and Anna M. Stancu of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.

The case is Virginia Van Dusen et al v. Swift Transportation Co., Inc. et al, case number 2:10-cv-00899, in the U.S. District Court of Arizona.

Securities fraud against Swift

Swift Transportation – National Securities Law Firm Encourages Shareholders With Significant Losses To Contact Law Firm

July 28, 2014: 12:06 PM ET

NEW YORK, July 28, 2014/PRNewswire/ — Tripp Levy PLLC, a leading national securities law firm, announces that it is investigating potential securities fraud claims against Swift Transportation Co. (NYSE: SWFT) (“Swift” or the “Company”) resulting from allegations that Swift may have made false and misleading disclosures concerning its business and financial condition.

On July 25, 2014, Swift tumbled the most since its 2010 initial public offering, after the Company forecast third-quarter financial results below that of analysts’ estimates due to a “shortage” of drivers.  Swift said that it was “constrained” by a challenging driver market in the second quarter and that turnover was higher than anticipated.

Following this announcement, the stock fell over $4.60 per share to $21.20 per share on July 25, 2014. 

Tripp Levy PLLC is looking at filing a potential action that seeks to recover damages on behalf of all purchasers of Swift publicly traded securities during the period January 27, 2014 through and including July 25, 2014 (the “Class Period”).  

If you purchased shares of Swift during the Class Period and suffered significant losses on your investment, and wish to discuss this matter at no cost or expense, please contact Tripp Levy PLLC via e-mail at contact@tripplevy.com or call us toll free at 1-800-511-7037 or visit our website at www.tripplevy.com.

Tripp Levy PLLC is a leading national securities and shareholder rights law firm with offices across the country representing both individual and institutional shareholders and, along with its affiliates, has recovered billions of dollars for shareholders.  Tripp Levy PLLC is affiliated with Milberg LLP. Attorney advertising.  Prior results do not indicate a similar outcome

Email: contact@tripplevy.com 

Toll free: 1-800-511-7037

International:  602.241.2841

www.tripplevy.com

SOURCE Tripp Levy PLLC

Questions

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ELLIS V SWIFT SETTLEMENT RAISED – July 30, 2014

In Ellis v. Swift Transportation Co. of AZ , the plaintiffs claimed that Swift violated the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act by performing credit checks without advising applicants of certain things required by the law. A tentative settlement was reached between the parties which called for each owner operator to receive $50 in settlement of these claims. The settlement notice that was mailed did not advise owner operators of the full scope of claims that might be “released” by accepting the $50 or by failing to exclude themselves from the settlement. Because the release language in the settlement could be taken to mean that Owner Ops give up claims which are being raised in this case: such as whether Swift engaged in Forced Labor by using the DAC Report to force drivers to continue to work for Swift, Getman Sweeney is extremely concerned that settlement is not in any Owner-Operator’s interest. Plaintiffs’ lawyers in this case are reaching out to the Plaintiffs’ attorneys in Ellis v. Swift , to see if our concerns can be addressed in such a way that the drivers can participate in that settlement and avoid giving up claims that are asserted in this case. Until further notice, however, Getman Sweeney advises its clients to DO NOTHING with respect to making a claim in the Ellis case. We will be in touch with clients individually following our discussion with the lawyers for the drivers in the Ellis case. If you have not heard from us individually by mid-September, please contact the office for further advice concerning how to handle claims in the Ellis case.

Swift denied

Supreme Court Denies Swift’s Motion to Hear Case – June 16, 2014

The Supreme Court today denied Swift Transportation’s motion to hear Swift’s argument as to why the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was wrong. This is a significant victory for the Drivers in this case. The Supreme Court’s ruling, leaves standing a ruling by the Ninth Circuit which was favorable to the drivers, holding that the District Court cannot send the case to arbitration to determine whether the Federal Arbitration Act applies. While the issue is fairly technical, it is an important one for truckers. Most importantly, it means that there will not be another year or more of delay before the case moves forward.

Swift centaur

Swift Files Petition for Certiorari in the Supreme Court – February 4, 2014

Swift has filed a “petition for certiorari” with the Supreme Court asking the high court to hear Swift’s challenge to the Ninth Circuit’s decision that the District Court must decide whether the Federal Arbitration Act applies to this case before sending the case to arbitration. The Ninth Circuit’s ruling was a critical decision in favor of the drivers, since it meant that the District Court must decide whether the ICOA/Lease constitute a contract of employment, and if the Court found the contract to be one of “employment” then the case would never go to arbitration. In fact, in a similar case against Central Refrigerated, the Court found the ICOA/Lease to be a contract of employment that could not be sent to arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act. Swift wants the drivers to have to ask that question individually in arbitration – where it knows that few, if any, drivers will be able to afford litigating the case individually. The Ninth Circuit had agreed to stay its decision, giving Swift 90 days in which to make another stay motion to the Supreme Court, which it has not done. If the Supreme Court does not stay the case while it considers whether or not to take the case, the current stay will expire. Click here to read Swift’s petition for certiorari . The Supreme Court gets approximately 7,000 requests to hear cases each year, but hears only one to two percent.

Sore losers

Swift Vows to Take Case to Supreme Court – December 10, 2013

Swift asked the Ninth Circuit to stay its decision requiring the District Judge to determine if the drivers are employees or contractors. Swift claims it will be filing a “petition for certiorari” with the Supreme Court asking it to reverse the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth Circuit agreed to stay its decision – but only for 90 days, giving Swift time to make another stay motion to the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court does not stay the case while it considers whether or not to take the case, the current stay will expire and the case will proceed. This stay application is not surprising, since Swift has shown it will do anything it can to avoid or delay having the Court hear the drivers case. We will know soon whether the Supreme Court will decide to stay the decision while it decides whether to hear the case.