Court refuses to dismiss suit against FMCSA

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A bid by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to dismiss a lawsuit brought against it and its Compliance, Safety, Accountability program’s DataQ’s appeals process has been denied, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) announced March 12.

A U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia made the ruling March 10, allowing OOIDA’s litigation against the agency and its parent Department of Transportation to continue.

OOIDA’s suit centers on FMCSA’s use of violations against drivers and carriers after citations were dismissed in court. The agency has since the lawsuits were filed put in place steps to have such violations removed from carriers’ and drivers’ records, but OOIDA’s lawsuit seeks to stop publication of violations and use of violations in carriers’ public Safety Measurement System rankings until they can be contested in court.

The lawsuit squarely takes aim at FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS), which is the data well the agency uses to calculate SMS BASIC rankings, populate driver Pre-employment Screening Program reports and to offer states enforcement grants.

Inaccurate data in the MCMIS violates federal data quality statutes, OOIDA contends.

“FMCSA should never report enforcement activity as a ‘violation’ before a driver has his or her day in court or after the driver has been acquitted or the charges dismissed,” says OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston.

Both OOIDA and FMCSA now are responsible for proposing a scheduling order for the proceedings to continue, due in the court by March 24.