The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVID COAR, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiffs Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Inc.,
et al. filed a three-count complaint against defendant Bulkmatic
Transport Co. pursuant to 49 U.S.C. § 14102 and 14704, et
seq. In their complaint, plaintiffs allege that defendant violated
the federal Truth-in-Leasing regulations, 49 C.F.R. Part 376, which
govern the leases between defendant and individuals who lease their
trucking equipment to defendant. Defendant's Fed.R.Civ.P.
Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss is now before the court. For the reasons set
forth below, the motion is denied.
I. Motion to Dismiss Standard
In its Rule 12(b)(6) motion, defendant asserts that plaintiffs have
failed to state claims upon which relief may be granted. In reviewing
such a motion, the court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts in the
complaint and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiffs.
See Ameritech Corp. v. McCann, 297 F.3d 582, 585 (7th Cir.
2002). A complaint should be dismissed only if there is no set of facts
in support of the claim that would entitle the plaintiffs to relief. See Ledford v. Sullivan, 105 F.3d 354, 356 (7th
The Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995,
49 U.S.C. § 10101, et seq. ("ICCTA"), transferred the motor carrier
regulatory functions previously vested in the Interstate Commerce
Commission to the Department of Transportation ("DOT") and the Surface
Transportation Board, See 49 U.S.C. § 13501. The federal
Truth-in-Leasing regulations, 49 C.F.R. Part 376, govern the leases
between motor carriers and owner-operators of trucks. These regulations
were initially promulgated pursuant to 49 U.S.C. § 13301 and 14102.
With the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999, Congress
transferred to the new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
("FMCSA") all "duties and powers related to motor carriers or motor
carrier safety vested in the Secretary [of Transportation] by chapters
. . . 133 through 149. . . ." 49 U.S.C. § H3(f)(1). The Secretary
thereby, in relevant part, delegated his authority over the federal
leasing regulations to FMCSA. See 49 C.F.R. § 1.73(a)(2),
Defendant is a regulated motor carrier that transports property in
interstate commerce under authority issued by DOT. It does so utilizing
tractors and driving services leased from owner-operators (i.e.,
independent truckers). Plaintiff Owner-Operator Independent Drivers
Association, Inc. ("OOIDA") is an association, some of whose
owner-operator members (including the individual plaintiffs) have leased
their trucking equipment, with a driver, to defendant, In that
connection, defendant has entered into lease agreements with the
individual plaintiffs, as well as with potential class members.*fn1
In Count 1 of the complaint, plaintiffs allege that the subject lease
agreements do not contain all of the provisions, or the precise wording, required by
the applicable leasing regulations. See 49 C.F.R. § 376.12.
In Count II of the complaint, they allege that defendant failed to
provide rated freight bills to owner-operators on request, in violation
of 49 C.F.R. § 376.12(g), Plaintiffs allege in Count III that
defendant understated its gross revenue before calculating plaintiffs'
percentage-of-revenue compensation, thus underpaying them, in violation
of 49 C.F.R. § 376.12(d),(g).
Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief, restitution,
disgorgement, monetary damages, and attorneys' fees.
A. Section 14704(a) Creates Private Rights of Action.
Defendant argues foremost that plaintiffs' claims for declaratory and
injunctive relief and damages must be dismissed because section
14704*fn2 does not confer upon plaintiffs a private right of action to
seek such relief. As plaintiffs point out in their opposition brief, the
Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals squarely rejected the position now advanced by
defendant and did so in an opinion that this court finds
thoroughly explained and soundly reasoned. See Owner-Operator Indep,
Drivers Ass'n v. New Prime, Inc., 192 F.3d 778 (8th Cir. 1999),
cert. den., New Prime v. Owner-Operators Indep. Drivers Ass'n,
Inc., 529 U.S. 1066 (2000) (holding that section 14704(a)(2) creates
a private right of action for injunctive relief and damages for
violations of the federal Truth-in-Leasing regulations).*fn3 This court
finds more persuasive the reasoning of the courts that have rejected,
rather than embraced, the arguments now advanced by defendant in this
Defendant contends first that the plain language of section 14704(a)(1)
establishes that it authorizes private suits to enforce only an "order"
of the Secretary of Transportation relating to the federal leasing
regulations, and not the regulations, themselves. Defendant contends that
the second sentence, with its reference to "injunctive relief," merely
provides an additional "fencing-in" form of relief in an action to
enforce an order of the Secretary, and not a stand-alone right to sue a
carrier directly for injunctive relief. Moreover, defendant contends that
allowing owner-operators to bring individual claims for injunctive relief
would be inconsistent with the general statutory scheme for enforcing the federal leasing regulations.
See 49 U.S.C. § 14701(a) & 14702(a); see also
49 U.S.C. § 14703. On this basis, defendant contends that Congress
vested the FMCSA with exclusive authority to seek injunctive relief for
In line with the plain language of sub-section (a)(1), this court must
reject defendant's arguments. In New Prime, the court of appeals
determined that the first sentence of sub-section (a)(1), with its use of
the word "order," by its terms creates a private right of action limited
to the enforcement of agency orders. New Prime, 192 F.3d at 783,
The court further found, however, that by its plain language, the last
sentence of section 14704(a)(1) is not so limited and instead creates a
private right of action for injunctive relief, including for violations
of section 14102 and of the leasing regulations promulgated under that
section (which, itself, merely authorizes the adoption of leasing
regulations). Id. at 783-84.*fn4 This court ...