Prime tells drivers settlement notice is a scam, emergency motion alleges

October 6, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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On the same day thousands of truck drivers were to be notified about possible eligibility in a $28 million class action settlement against New Prime Inc., employees of the Springfield, Mo.-based trucking company allegedly told the drivers to ignore the email because it was a “phishing scam.”

According to court documents, the settlement notice was sent on Oct. 5 to about 40,000 individuals with most of them receiving it via email. An emergency motion filed on Tuesday, Oct. 6, in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts claims that Prime employees sent the following communication through Prime’s app and through the Qualcomm system to every truck in the Prime fleet:

*** Fleet Message Please Read ***. There is a scam happening with an email phishing attempt to gather your personal information claiming to be a part of a lawsuit. Please do not click the link in the email. This is an attempt to snatch your personal info. Any and all lawsuit settlements would need to be sent by official mail outlet, not an email from a stranger.

 

The emergency motion was the latest filing in a case that has lasted five years and reached all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The lawsuit originally filed by truck driver Dominic Oliveira in 2015 alleged that Prime violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. Prime attempted to force arbitration until a 2019 U.S. Supreme Court decision sided with Oliveira. In July, Oliveira and truck driver Rocky Haworth reached a $28 million settlement agreement with Prime.

On Oct. 5, attorneys for Oliveira and Haworth issued a news release and launched a website informing current and former Prime drivers how to recover eligible money from the settlement. According to court documents, Prime sent the message about a “phishing scam” on the same day.

“Immediate corrective action is necessary to remedy this message, which is both entirely false and plays on people’s fears about potential scams,” the emergency motion stated. “The message also patently interferes with the court-approved notice process.”

Plaintiffs asked the court to order several corrective actions that include:

  • Requiring Prime’s management to inform all managers, supervisors and staff about the settlement and the notice process and to instruct them not to do anything to interfere or discourage individuals from participating in the settlement.
  • Requiring Prime’s management to refer drivers to PrimeTruckingSettlement.com if they have questions about the settlement.
  • Requiring Prime to send a message through its app and Qualcomm system that states “the email about the settlement is not a scam or a phishing attempt. It is a legitimate, court-approved notice informing you of your right to recover money and other relief as part of a settlement.” The message is also to be posted on all of Prime’s Facebook pages.
  • Requiring Prime to send a letter on company letterhead signed by the owner apologizing for the inaccurate “phishing” message and encouraging eligible drivers to participate in the settlement and claim the money owed to them. The letter also would be required to be posted on the settlement website and the Prime website homepage.
  • Requiring Prime, at the company’s expense, to send the court-approved settlement notice by first-class mail with a postage-prepaid envelope to all members of the settlement class.

The settlement

A $28 million settlement was reached between Oliveira, Haworth, and Prime regarding claims that Prime improperly paid drivers in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, Missouri minimum wage law, and related laws.

Funds will be distributed to the named plaintiffs, as well as about 40,000 potential class members who leased their trucks through Prime at any time from Oct. 2, 2012, through May 8, 2020, or those who attended training in Missouri to become a Prime truck driver at any time since March 4, 2010, through May 8, 2020.

Those who wish to receive their maximum share of the settlement must fill out and return or submit online the “Claim/Consent to Join Form” no later than Dec. 7.

More information about the settlement and potential payouts can be found here. LL

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 more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.