"In 2007, after informing FedEx that he was ill and running a fever, FedEx forced Mr. Rocha to drive rather than allowing a replacement to cover his route and Mr. Rocha almost died on the road when his gall bladder burst. Fortunately, Mr. Rocha had a helper in the truck with him when his gall bladder burst and that helper was able to gain control of the truck and rush Mr. Rocha to the hospital before he would have otherwise been pronounced dead. Though FedEx did not terminate his contract during the 6-month period he spent in recovery and a replacement driver covered his route, Mr. Rocha nonetheless suffered substantial emotional distress as a result of his being forced by FedEx to drive despite a debilitating fever and the complete disregard FedEx showed for his physical well-being and the value added by the deaf helper who saved his life, who FedEx later disqualified and discharged," Rocha says.
He adds that since FedEx classified him as an independent contractor he has had no health insurance, and FedEx did not pay workers' compensation or for his replacement during his 6-month recovery.
Rocha's first brush with termination came after his large service area required the purchase of another van and his agreement to hire a second driver, one supposedly already screened and trained by FedEx.
"Mr. Rocha agreed to use the driver referred by FedEx and within months the driver was found to have narcotics in his system after being involved in an accident with a semi truck. As a result of the foregoing accident, FedEx notified Mr. Rocha of its intent to cancel his contract in 30 days if he did not acquire trucking insurance independent of FedEx. The day before Mr. Rocha's contract with FedEx was scheduled to terminate, FedEx fraudulently induced Mr. Rocha to transfer his PSA and trucking vehicles to another contractor under the false pretense that both the PSA and vehicles transferred would be returned to him after a period of six months," the complaint states.
FedEx's terminal manager then handed over Rocha's trucks to another contractor, Handzon Enterprises, which told Rocha 6 months later that the trucks belonged to it, Rocha says.
"FedEx thereafter barred Mr. Rocha from the terminal area where his trucking vehicles remained parked, misappropriated the extra set of keys provided to it by Mr. Rocha in connection with his operating agreement, and exercised complete dominion over Mr. Rocha's vehicles for Handzon's use in its business. After barring Mr. Rocha from his vehicles, FedEx told Mr. Rocha, without any contractual or legal basis, that the truck taken from him was 'bound' to his contract and threatened to file a criminal complaint against him if he attempted to access his truck or otherwise remove it from the property. FedEx further told Mr. Rocha that if he wanted his PSA and vehicles returned he would have to pay Handzon. His parents at risk of losing their home used as collateral for the purchase of his trucking vehicles, Mr. Rocha paid $4,300.00 to Handzon on January 26, 2007 in an act of desperation but Handzon never returned his PSA or vehicles. Neither FedEx nor Handzon had any intent to fulfill their promise to return Mr. Rocha's PSA and vehicles after the 6 month-period and conspired at all times to defraud him of both his vehicles and PSA," Rocha states in his complaint.
Rocha says he eventually got his trucks back, after FedEx fired the terminal manager. But he says his $4,300 was never returned, and FedEx made him sign a new, revised standard operating agreement.
Three years later - facing another onslaught of lawsuits, including a class action in Illinois - FedEx decided to shift its business model again. Rocha says he was told that his "swing" contract would no longer be needed because contractors would be responsible for managing their own time off under the new model.
FedEx offered Rocha the chance to sign the new deal - the ISP - and he reluctantly accepted, with $70,000 of debt and a mortgage on his parents' home hanging over his head. He purchased more PSAs, trucks and equipment as FedEx required.
For its part, FedEx brought in accountants and provided contractors with estimated revenue projections. The company showed contractors how they could shoulder larger costs and still make the kind of money the program promised.
"The ISP Offer ultimately proved to Mr. Rocha and most other contractors to be nothing more than an extension and continuation of FedEx's scheme to circumvent federal and state laws and continue its fraudulent business practices," Rocha states in his complaint.
He says FedEx also omitted from its ISP transition guide that it was being sued across the U.S. again - this time for wrongful retaliation because of the ISP transition.
Rocha says that transition was part of FedEx's grand scheme to combine and reconfigure PSAs into larger Contractor Service Areas (CSAs), hand the larger regions over to corporate contractors and end its relationship with small fry like him.
The promised financial incentives never materialized, Rocha said.
Days after FedEx forced him to transfer his rights to his company, Arize 11 - and he refused to sign a supplemental claims release - the terminal manager informed him he no longer worked for FedEx and barred him from the terminal, Rocha says.
He says that instead of the $1 million in revenue FedEx promised him under the new ISP plan, FedEx sold his contract and trucks to defendant Ralph Stephens for $220,000. Rocha claims Stephens never paid him.
"Upon information and belief, after Mr. Rocha transferred title to his trucking vehicles to Mr. Stephens, FedEx further interfered with plaintiffs' sale by conspiring with Mr. Stephens and aiding him in the breach of his sale agreement and the unlawful taking of Mr. Rocha's PSAs and trucking vehicles. Upon information and belief, FedEx and Mr. Stephens conspired to defraud and otherwise extort plaintiffs of their vehicles and proprietary interests and Mr. Stephens continues to use the trucking vehicles he acquired from plaintiffs to service the PSAs acquired by plaintiffs for FedEx's benefit despite failing to pay for those assets as agreed," Rocha says in his complaint.
Rocha seeks rescission of contracts, declaratory relief, restitution, and compensatory, treble, and punitive damages.
The complaint includes 4 exhibits, including the July 10, 2006 letter that FedEx sent to its "independent contractors;" the Standard Operating Agreement, marked "Too Large to Upload;" the Illinois ISP Transition Guide, marked Too Large to Upload; and the Transfer Document between Rocha and Handzon.
A FedEx driver in New York filed a separate complaint in Westchester County Court, White Plains. In it, he claims that FedEx required that its independent contractors to incorporate and that each run at least three PSA routes.
Plaintiff Cowdrey Mullings said he had just one route, so he agreed to combine with another FedEx driver, who had two.
Mullings did not sue FedEx, but sued the second driver, whom he claims took over his route, fired him, and got FedEx to blacklist him.
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