Celadon drivers finally getting their checks from $4.2M judgement

About 2,400 independent drivers for Indianapolis-based Celadon Trucking Services Inc. are getting checks in the mail — many for more than $1,000 — resulting from final resolution of a class-action judgment that found the drivers were overcharged for their fuel purchases.

Drivers sued Celadon in 2013, claiming the trucking company hid the true cost of fuel purchases made with Celadon-issued Comdata cards at Pilot Flying J truck stops. The suit alleged the cards provided a 6-cent per gallon discount on fuel, and that pump price was withheld from drivers’ compensation.

However, Celadon received a much higher discount when those cards were used—as much as 20 cents per gallon. The suit alleged Celadon made a profit of $20 each time a driver paid for a 100-gallon fuel purchase with a Comdata card.

A Marion Superior Court found for the drivers based on the pleadings, but it took years of legal wrangling for them to be compensated. More than four-and-a-half years after bringing the breach-of-contract suit, drivers represented by Cohen & Malad P.C. of Indianapolis are receiving checks from a $4.2 million settlement. The amounts vary based on their fuel individual purchases. The law firm said one-third of drivers have or will receive payments of more than $1,000, and the maximum payout is about $17,000.

The class settlement amount was fixed by a Marion Superior Court judgment in November 2015, which was affirmed last year by the Indiana Court of Appeals. But Cohen & Malad partner Richard Shevitz said “Celadon resisted paying the judgment, and we were forced to execute on the appeal bond to satisfy it.”

Shevitz said the case “dispels the myth that class actions always settle or provide little benefit to class members. We took this case to final judgment in the trial court and through appeal, ultimately litigating it in four separate courts. Independent drivers around the country are now receiving payments in amounts that matter, without ever having to hire a lawyer, go to court, or even fill out a form, on claims that they would not have been able to pursue against the company on an individual basis.”

Celadon officials did not reply to messages seeking comment.

Trading in the financially troubled company’s shares were halted last month on the New York Stock Exchange while the company attempts to raise $200 million in exchange for a roughly one-fifth ownership share.

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