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D.C. court tosses truck drivers’ FCRA suit over inaccurate DOT database

Commercial truck drivers who sued the Department of Transportation (DOT) over inaccurate safety records in a DOT database lacked standing to pursue their Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) claims, the D.C. Circuit ruled.

The DOT’s Motor Carrier Management Information System compiles accident reports and other safety violations for commercial truck drivers. States report the data to the DOT and the DOT is tasked with ensuring the accuracy and completeness of the information in the database.

Employers obtain information from the database through DOT reports that provide crash data from the previous five years and inspection data from the previous three years.

The plaintiffs, commercial truck drivers, received citations for safety-related violations, but all of the citations were either dismissed or the driver was found not guilty at trial. The drivers requested that the DOT remove the citations from the database. However, the DOT rejected the requests because, at the time, the database only contained initial citations, not adjudicated outcomes. The drivers and their industry association filed suit, seeking damages under the FCRA, alleging that the DOT violated its statutory obligation to ensure the accuracy of the information in its database.

In an initial ruling, a district court dismissed the driver’s associations’ case on summary judgment, finding that the drivers had no injury in fact and thus no standing.

On appeal, the D.C. Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling that the mere presence of the inaccurate information did not demonstrate an injury; and that injury would only occur when inaccurate information was provided to employers. Since most of the plaintiffs in the driver’s association never had their information disseminated to an employer, they suffered no injury and, therefore, lacked standing to sue under the FCRA, the court ruled.

The case is Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Inc. v. U.S. Dept. of Transportation, January 12, 2018, Case No. 16-5355.

Source: Employment Law Daily Wrap Up, 1/12/2018

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