Drivers sue A.L. trucking company for pay

Published 10:13 am Thursday, June 7, 2012

A lawsuit filed in federal court in Minneapolis alleges a local trucking company failed to pay truckers properly and requests $500,000 in damages.

Twenty-two drivers are suing Albert Lea-based VFS Transportation Inc. for the alleged truth-in-leasing violations, according to court documents filed May 17. They request a jury trial and also seek damages for suffering allegedly caused by breach of contract, fraud, theft and breach of fiduciary duty.

In the lawsuit, the drivers say they signed leases with VFS Transportation Inc., 2309 Consul St., that called for VFS to pay the drivers 74 percent of the hauling charges and 100 percent of the fuel charges. However, the company did not disclose copies of the freight bills to the drivers, the lawsuit claims, so they could not determine what the loads paid.

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Even though the pay was based on a percentage of the bill, “the leases between each plaintiff and VFS Inc. did not specify that VFS Inc. would give the lessor, before or at the time of settlement, a copy of the rated freight bill or a computer-generated document containing the same information that would appear on a rated freight bill,” the drivers stated in their lawsuit.

Warren Amundson, CEO of VFS, said company officials do not comment on active cases. Amundson is cited as a defendant in the lawsuit, along with bookkeeper Donna Walraven.

A copy of a lease agreement with Alden trucker Billy Ransom was filed with the lawsuit, and Amundson signed for VFS, and Walraven signed as a witness.

The company is represented by Eagan lawyer Douglas Grawe. The 22 drivers are represented by Burnsville lawyer Paul Taylor.

Taylor said the $500,000 damage claim is a conservative estimate. He said he and his clients won’t know the true damages until Amundson submits the freight bills to the court.

The truckers, Taylor said, are “supposed to get their invoices without asking. He didn’t turn them over even when they asked.”

Grawe said he could not comment on the litigation.

“We are receiving the materials, and we are responding,” he said. “We respect all of the efforts of our drivers.”

The lawsuit bases its claims of breach of contract for the same reasons as violation of truth-in-leasing laws. It further says the allegations of fraud, theft and breach of fiduciary duty are based on the same reasons plus “false representations” and “understated compensation.”


22 plaintiffs listed

The 22 drivers suing VFS, listed in the order they appear as plaintiffs on the lawsuit, are:
Billy Ransom, Alden
Michael Joseph Hayes, Alden
Mark Haaf, Clear Lake, Iowa
Daniel Benson, Joice, Iowa
Leroy Bledsoe, Albert Lea
David Rieck, Rudd, Iowa
Herman Pearson, Watertown
Jeremy Pearson, Dassel
Clinton Pearson, Gibbon
Timothy Rethwisch, Lansing
David Prestolt, Twin Lakes
Roger England, Esterville, Iowa
Robert Reffer, Booneville, Ark.
Charles Draper, Canton, Ill.
Daniel Winter, Blooming Prairie
Clayton Hayes Ellis, Austin
Paul Skagter, Albert Lea
Mark Jurgensen, Lake Mills, Iowa
Daniel Bess, Waltham
Lee Van Boven, St. Charles
John Kem, Canton, Ill.
Richard Stone, Muscatine, Iowa



About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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