Billion Dollar Class Action Lawsuit Filed For Alleged Unlawful Collection of Trucking Fees

by Jake Tully - Published: 11/22/2017

Earlier today the Small Business in Transportation Coalition announced that its trucking group has filed a class action lawsuit against the Indiana Department of Revenue in Marion County, Indiana on Friday, November 17, 2017 in Indiana State Court.

James Lamb, spokesperson and president of the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) announced that the lawsuit was filed on behalf of the interstate-based motor carrier industry that alleges the unlawful collection of registration fees for motor carriers by the state for more than a decade by the Indiana Department of Revenue (INDOR)

"Indiana law does not authorize INDOR to be part of the UCR Plan or to collect UCR-related fees. Without such authority under Indiana law, we believe INDOR’s nationwide collection of the UCR-related fees is unlawful and every trucker since 2008 is entitled to a refund of these illegally collected fees," said SBTC Attorney James Bopp, Jr.

Lamb reports that the lawsuit states that INDOR, the defendant, is an Indiana-based government agency that was established in order to administer, collect, and enforce taxes under Indiana Code Title 6, Article 8.1, as well as fulfill the function of certifying motor carriers in the State under Indiana Code Title 8, Article 2.1.

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In the lawsuit, it is alleged that the under contract with the UCR Board, INDOR has been registering interstate motor vehicles from across the U.S. and unlawfully collecting UCR fees, an Instant Access Fee, as well as the Usage Fee, with collections brought in through the website since 2008.

According to the suit, the Plaintiffs allege that there is no existing Indiana State Law that grants the INDOR the authority to enter the UCR Agreement, to administer the UCR plan by contracting with the UCR Board, to use the UCR Plan to register truckers, to collect fees related to the UCR, and that overall INDOR has illegally collected UCR-related fees since 2008.

"SBTC has filed this class lawsuit on behalf of the trucking industry because we believe INDOR has unlawfully collected a billion dollars in UCR-related fees from hundreds of thousands of motor carriers since 2008. The SBTC is a watchdog group for the trucking industry that investigates government fraud, waste, mismanagement, and abuse. It is the policy of the SBTC to expose unlawful government activities and improprieties whenever discovered. Truckers and motor carrier who wish to keep up-to-date on the progress of the suit can visit the SBTC's website, Facebook Page or they can follow us on Linked In or Twitter@SBTCINC," said Lamb.

Additionally, the suit alleges that INDOR unlawfully collected close to $100,000,000 in fees related to UCR activities every year since 2008, and that the suit asks for all fees paid by motor carriers since 2008 for UCR-related items to be refunded.

The suit states that in 2005 Congress authorized the 50 states to voluntarily participate in an interstate compact agreement to coordinate the registration of interstate motor carriers to utilize and “online registration system” to collect registration fees under the Unified Carrier Registration Plan.

Allegations in the lawsuit state that in order for a state to be eligible as a voluntary member of the UCR, a state must have an agency that has the legal authority, resources and personnel in order to implement the UCR Agreement and that the INDOR unlawfully claimed to be such an agency despite signing the UCR Agreement for the Stateof Indiana.

The Lawsuit also explains that the UCR Agreement requires truck drivers to register with their home state or the online interstate registration program established by INDOR before a driver operates a motor vehicle that will be used in interstate commerce, and that drivers are subject to penalties if they fail to register before interstate travel.

In addition to the UCR Registration, the suit claims that drivers must also pay a UCR fee, a UCR Usage Fee for out-of-state drivers registering in Indiana as well as a UCR Instant Access Fee if the individual pays by credit card.

Cause of action within the suit states that INDOR has registered motor vehicles for states throughout the country since 2008 under an illegal contract with the UCR Board as well as claims that INDOR illegally collected the UCR fees in that INDOR signed contracts with the UCR Board since 2008 to allegedly allow the entity to collect fees from drivers in the United States.

According to Lamb, action of the Plaintiffs suggests that Indiana law not authorize INDOR to enter any contract with the UCR Board and that Indiana Law does not allow Indiana to register commercial truckers under the UCR Plan, collect UCR fees or allow the state to participate in the UCR Agreement.

Considering the allegation within the suit that there is no authority under Indiana law for INDOR to enter any contact with the UCR Board, and Indiana allegedly does not allow Indiana to participate in the UCR Agreement which registers drivers under the UCR Plan or the collect UCR fees.

Given the aforementioned allegations in regards to the UCR Board and UCR fees, the Plaintiffs in this case contend that INDOR has collected fees related to the UCR since 2008.

According to Lamb, SBTC is a 501(c)(6) non-profit trade organization with over 8,000 members that represents, promotes, and protects the interests of small businesses in the transportation industry.

Interested parties can view more of the suit as well as updates regarding the suit at SBTC's site.