26,000 current and former Prime employees could be eligible for $28 million payout

Prime Inc

If you worked for, or leased your truck with, Prime from March 4, 2010 to May 8, 2020, you could be eligible to receive a part of a $28 million payout from New Prime, aka, Prime.

After a five-year-long battle reached the Missouri Supreme Court, New Prime filed papers on July 20 to settle two class-action lawsuits with its drivers.

According to the settlement, “All individuals who have attended training to become truck drivers for Prime and/or have driven for Prime either as employee drivers or as independent contractor drivers who have leased their trucks through Prime at any time from October 2, 2012, to May 8, 2020, and all individuals who have otherwise attended training in Missouri to become truck drivers for Prime at any time from March 4, 2010, to May 8, 2020, except two individuals who served as named plaintiffs in another class settlement against New Prime, Inc., in the case of Montgomery v. New Prime, Inc., C.D. Cal. Civil Action No. 8:17-cv-00321, and signed full releases as part of that settlement.”

The first case was filed in 2015 by truck driver Dominic Oliveira, who alleges that Prime failed to pay him minimum wage and misclassified him as an independent contractor.

Oliveira went through Prime’s apprenticeship program, which was, according to court documents, described as a paid CDL training program. The suit claims that Oliveira was not paid during his orientation and that while he was paid 14 cents per mile while driving as a part of the Prime apprenticeship program, this pay was docked for funds advanced to him to pay for meals. After completing the apprenticeship program, Oliveira says that Prime representatives told him that he would make more money as an independent contractor and that he was rushed through signing the necessary contracts because he was told that he had just received his first load.

Oliveira said that while he was employed as an independent contractor with Prime, he was unlawfully underpaid and that he was treated in virtually the same way as a company driver. Oliveira eventually quit his job and was rehired by Prime as a company driver just a month later. He claimed that his duties were practically identical to when he had been employed as an independent contractor. He says that Prime was in control of his schedule, home time, and that his truck was tracked with a GPS device while he worked as an independent contractor for the company.

While the first case was ongoing, on January 22, 2019, Rocky Haworth filed against Prime, on behalf of himself and similarly situated individuals who drove for Prime as B seat and C seat drivers and alleged that Prime had failed to pay those drivers at least minimum wage for all hours worked. The case included counts under the FLSA and the Missouri minimum wage laws and common law.

The courts agreed and awarded Prime drivers the following settlement:

Per the Settlement terms the following allocation is to be made among the various claims in the case:

Classroom orientation fund: $7,000,0000 in non-reversionary funds to resolve the claims relating to unpaid classroom orientation;

B/C seat driving fund: $3,500,000 in non-reversionary funds and $5,000,000 in claims-made funds to resolve the claims relating to B seat or C seat driving;

A seat driving fund: $3,500,000 in non-reversionary funds and $5,000,000 in claims-made funds to resolve the claims relating to employee A seat (post final/upgrade orientation) driving; and

Independent contractor driving fund: $4,000,000 in claims-made funds to resolve the claims relating to independent contractor driving (i.e., driving while classified as an independent contractor).

Additionally, per the terms of the Settlement Agreement: up to 33% of the totalsettlement fund as attorneys’ fees to Plaintiffs’ counsel (up to $9,240,000 total); incentive payments of up to $50,000 for named plaintiff Dominic Oliveira and up to $25,000 for Rocky Haworth, the named plaintiff in the Haworth case, to be drawn equally ($25,000 each) from the classroom orientation fund, the non-reversionary portion of the B/C seat driving fund, and the non-reversionary portion of the A seat driving fund; reasonable litigation costs, including costs of settlement administration, of up to $225,000, to be drawn half (up to $112,500) from the classroom orientation fund, 25% (up to $56,250) from the non-reversionary portion of the B/C seat driving fund, and 25% (up to $56,250) from the non-reversionary portion of the A seat driving fund; and a fund of up to $200,000 to resolve disputes and pay reasonable late claims to be drawn 25% (up to $50,000) from the claims-made portion of the B/C seat driving fund, 25% (up to $50,000) from the non-reversionary portion of the A seat driving fund, and 50% (up to $100,000) from the independent contractor driving fund. If the Court were to reduce any amounts proposed for attorneys’ fees, incentive payments, litigation costs, or the dispute fund, those amounts would be distributed to class members to the extent that they come from non-reversionary funds and would revert to Defendant to the extent that they come from claims-made funds.

You can read the rest of the court document here.

Additionally, the case addressed Prime’s reporting to to credit agencies, such as Experian, Equifax, etc. and HireRight”

For all individuals for whom Prime has agreed to release entitlement to monies (described above), Prime has also agreed to the following upon final approval of the settlement:

After final approval of the settlement, Prime will use its best efforts to request that the national credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion delete any reporting of the trade line(s) with respect to the drivers’ accounts with Prime in connection with the purported debts released;

If a driver requests by letter to HireRight that records of a default to Prime and/or related entities be corrected in accordance with the release of Prime’s entitlement to monies, and to the fullest extent permitted by law, Prime agrees to provide a timely letter to HireRight with a copy to the requesting driver that any defaults owing to Prime and/or related entities have been rescinded by mutual agreement; and
• Prime and related entities shall give no new or additional negative references to Any driver for having allegedly defaulted on any amounts released.