Jury orders Swift to pay CRST more than $15 million in driver poaching case

August 1, 2019

Greg Grisolano

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A federal jury has ordered Swift Transportation to pay more than $15 million for poaching newly trained drivers from rival CRST Expedited.

The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Iowa, claimed Swift was intentionally interfering with CRST’s driver training program, as well as unjustly enriching itself. The lawsuit sought punitive damages and a permanent injunction. The verdict was reached on July 23.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based CRST filed suit against Swift in March 2017, claiming its Phoenix-based rival had recruited hundreds of drivers who had completed CRST’s driver training program but were still within a 10-month window requiring them to continue to work for CRST.

In CRST’s employment contract, those drivers who participate in the driver training program agree to a 10-month employment term with CRST. According to a second amended complaint filed by CRST, the company was receiving an increased number of employment verification requests from Swift for drivers that were in the 10-month restrictive term of their employment contracts. The complaint states that CRST sent Swift information informing them that the drivers in question were still under contract to CRST.

Lawyers for CRST described Swift’s intentional interference as “wanton and willful, justifying the imposition of punitive and exemplary damages.”

Of the payout, the jury decided that Swift’s “intentional and improper” interference with CRST’s drivers was worth $3 million in damages. They awarded $5 million in punitive damages and $7.5 million for Swift’s “unjust enrichment.”

Greg Grisolano

Greg Grisolano joined Land Line in 2013. He was formerly a reporter for the Joplin Globe. He brings business writing and photography skills to Land Line, and has a passion for finding and telling stories about the people who make up the trucking industry.