The state of Indiana is facing down a class action lawsuit handed down by a controversial figure in the trucking community who alleges that Indiana illegally collected approximately $1 billion in fees from truck drivers across the country.
Suit: Indiana Illegally Collected UCR Fees
The lawsuit against the Indiana Department of Revenue (INDOR) was filed in the Marion County Superior Court on Friday by prominent conservative lawyer Jim Bopp on behalf of the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC).
The lawsuit argues that the INDOR lacks the authority to collect annual Unified Carrier Registration fees from truck drivers, which it has been doing since 2008. According to the lawsuit, Indiana collects $100,000 in UCR fees from 400,000 truck drivers in 41 states every year.
SBTC’s lawsuit is based on the claim that there is no state law in place in Indiana “that authorizes the INDOR to enter into the UCR Agreement, to contract with the UCR Board to administer the UCR Plan, to register truckers under the UCR Plan, or to collect UCR-related fees. Thus the INDOR has been illegally collecting UCR-related fees since 2008”
The lawsuit seeks to have the state of Indiana refund the fees to the truckers who paid them.
Bopp told the Indianapolis Star, “I’m a conservative who does not want to see government overreaching, taxing people and collecting money unless the people authorize it through the legislature. What’s important to me is that government stays within its bounds. This has got to be one of the most expensive violations of law that I’ve seen.”
Lawsuit Organizer Accused Of Duping Truckers By FTC
SBTC founder and president James Lamb says that according to his calculations, many drivers could see hundreds of dollars coming their way if the suit is successful.
Lamb, who also runs the “Trucker Lives Matter” Facebook page, also advocates for truck driver gun rights. The Federal Trade Commission has filed an injunction against Lamb for allegedly duping tens of thousands of truckers out of more than $17 million by impersonating a government agency.
From the injunction:
“By impersonating government agencies and misrepresenting themselves as having a government affiliation, Defendants deceive owners and operators of tractor-trailer trucks and other commercial vehicles (“consumers”) into paying the fees that Defendants charge for filing federal and state motor carrier registrations. Many of the consumers harmed by Defendants’ false representations are small businesses with only a few employees and fewer than five trucks. Since at least 2012, Defendants have taken in more than $17 million from tens of thousands of consumers throughout the United States using threatening emails, official-sounding telephone messages, and alarming texts from the “Compliance Unit” of UCRRegistration and DOTAuthority, for example.”
Lamb has counter-sued the FTC, claiming that his marketing materials made it clear that they were from a third party organization.
You can read the full text of the injunction by clicking here.
According to a press release from the SBTC, “SBTC is a 501(c)(6) non-profit trade organization located in Washington, D.C. SBTC has over 8,000 members and represents, promotes, and protects the interests of small businesses in the transportation industry. 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.”