Classes approved in lawsuit against John Christner Trucking

February 6, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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A federal judge in Oklahoma approved separate class certifications for more than 3,000 truck drivers in a misclassification lawsuit against John Christner Trucking.

Judge Gregory Frizzell of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma granted the motion for class certification on Jan. 30 for truck drivers who worked in California, as well for an Oklahoma consumer protection class.

Allegations

Originally filed in 2017, the lawsuit claims that plaintiff Thomas Huddleston and other truckers were employees and should have been paid as such. The original complaint alleged that truck drivers for the Sapulpa, Okla.-based company often worked 70-100 hours per week while being paid less than $500. The lawsuit also claimed that it wasn’t uncommon for drivers to receive negative paychecks.

According to court documents, John Christner Trucking is a for-hire motor carrier that provides trucking services nationwide and relies, in part, on drivers who operate trucks leased from its company, Three Diamond Leasing.

Huddleston claims the trucking company misclassifies him and other leasing drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, thus violating a variety of state and federal labor laws.

Classes

The classes consist of more than 3,000 truck drivers in the California Work Class and the Oklahoma class. The Oklahoma class, specifically, claimed that the trucking company’s marketing practices violated the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act and the Oklahoma Business Opportunity Sales Act.

John Christner Trucking asked the court to deny certification “because Huddleston has failed to demonstrate that California’s wage and hour laws apply to him or any other putative class member.”

The trucking company also contended that the state labor laws in Oklahoma, not California, govern the alleged employment relationship between Huddleston and John Christner Trucking.

The court granted class certification for:

All current and former individuals, to the extent they performed transportation services for John Christner Trucking within California, who entered into an independent contractor operator agreement with JCT, entered into a lease agreement with either JCT or Three Diamond Leasing, and were classified as independent contractors.
All current and former individuals who provide transportation services for John Christner Trucking within the United States, who entered into an independent contractor operator agreement with JCT and entered into a lease agreement with either JCT or Three Diamond Leasing.

The court denied motions for certification to a “California resident class” and the portion of the Oklahoma class related to the Oklahoma Business Opportunity Sales Act claims.

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.

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