C.R. England Inc. in late April reached a $37.8 million settlement in a class action lawsuit filed in May 2011 that claimed a group of truckers were fraudulently induced into a driving opportunity in violation of Utah state laws.
The settlement affects 17,519 drivers who entered into a vehicle lease agreement with Opportunity Business Leasing Inc., doing business as Horizon Truck Sales and Leasing, and entered into an independent contractor operating agreement with C.R. England between May 27, 2007 and Jan. 31, 2017. Drivers who do not opt out before the June 4 deadline will receive a check of at least $1,000 and may be eligible for an additional $500 if they signed the agreements between May 27, 2008 and Oct. 31, 2010.
The Salt Lake City-based trucking company also agreed to treat the disputed unpaid debts owed to the defendants, including permits, licenses and truck lease payments, as canceled, which equates to about $48 million. C.R. England also agreed to refrain from actively collecting student tuition debt, which equates to approximately $13 million.
Kenneth McKay and Charles Roberts filed the suit alleging C.R. England was violating the Truth in Advertising Act, the Utah Business Opportunity Disclosure Act and the Utah Consumer Sales Practices Act and that the company was committing fraud, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment and breach of fiduciary duty, according to a court document.
The lawsuit claimed C.R. England and Horizon “concealed that the entire driving opportunity was a fraudulent scheme designed to bilk the drivers out of their labor and to have the drivers pay the defendants’ expenses associated with transporting goods,” according to a court document filed in August 2012 in the United States District Court for the District of Utah.
The total of $68,500 will be requested in the settlement to pay for incentive rewards for plaintiffs McKay and Roberts’ estate.
A final approving hearing is scheduled for July 9, during which the court will determine to approve the settlement; whether the plan for allocating the settlement benefits is fair and reasonable; whether to approve the incentive awards for McKay and Roberts’ estate; and whether to approve the application of class counsel for attorneys’ fees and expenses.