An Alabama trucking company is suing Wells Fargo bank for impounding their trailers after the United Furniture Industries shut down several weeks ago.
United Furniture Industries fired its employees via text and email on the evening of November 21st, leaving more than 2,700 people without a job. Truck drivers were instructed to return to the nearest United facility and not complete any current deliveries.
According to Atkins Trucking and Booneville attorney Casey Lott, not all of the returned trailers belonged to United, and not all contained furniture. However, when United Furniture shut down, Wells Fargo hired security to lock up the company’s facilities and all the equipment, preventing people from recovering their trailers. This has left some smaller companies like Atkins Trucking in a tight spot as they attempt to operate without crucial equipment.
“Wells Fargo has an interest here, but they don’t have an interest in every trailer,” Lott said. “They are holding hundreds of trailers hostage, trailers and goods they don’t own. Wells Fargo secured the facility and won’t return the property to the rightful owners.”
“When you’re talking about someone who only have a handful of trucks and trailers, impounding one or two trailers could be devastating,” Lott said to the Daily Journal. “They are frantic trying to get their loads [sic] back.”
Lott believes that any furniture belonging to the bank should have been unloaded from the trailers and locked inside of the United facility, leaving the owners of the trailers free to take back their equipment.
“We are seeking an order form the court to force them to release other people’s property,” Lott said.
The lawsuit is not looking for money, only an injunctive release, but Lott hopes to have the case certified as class action so the owners of other trailers can reclaim their property.
This is one of many lawsuits filed against United Furniture since the shut down. A Texas company has sued United for a 22-ton load of copper wire that was supposed to be delivered the day the company shut down. The load has been impounded since. Several other lawsuits allege that the company violated the federal WARN Act when it fired all its employees without notice. The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires companies with more than 100 employees to give 60 days advance written notice before layoffs or shutting down.