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Court decision allows carriers access to drivers' history

On June 19, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a class-action lawsuit brought by six truck drivers. This lawsuit was the second case backed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association that the high court refused to hear over a two-week span. Because court rulings that concern the trucking industry may impact motorist safety on roadways across the nation, drivers in Louisiana and other parts of the country may want to know more about the history of this case and its potential implications.

Originally filed in a federal district court in 2014, the lawsuit concerned alleged violations of the Privacy Act of 1974. The drivers claimed that the U.S. Department of Transportation and its Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shared too much information with prospective employers in Pre-Employment Screening Program reports, which DOT denied. Ultimately, the trial court rejected the plaintiffs' arguments that the inclusion of non-serious safety violations in the PSP reports violated the truckers' privacy, and in October 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit upheld the decision.

In December 2016, the court denied the plaintiffs a rehearing. The Supreme Court's subsequent decision effectively lays this case to rest and allows FMCSA to include a driver's violation history of incorrect logs, unlawful parking, violation of certain hours rules, speeding and excessive weight violations in PSP reports without violating that driver's right to privacy.

The drivers who brought the class-action suit claimed the reports made it harder for them to get trucking jobs. If this is true, the Supreme Court's refusal could be instrumental in keeping some drivers who have a history of non-serious safety violations off the road. Regardless, Louisiana motorists who are seriously injured in a collision with an 18-wheeler due to truck driver negligence might want to have the help of a lawyer in seeking compensation for their medical bills and other losses.

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