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Trucking organization appeals sleep apnea ruling

Connecticut readers may be interested in learning that the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is appealing the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision to dismiss its sleep apnea lawsuit against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. It alleges that the agency implemented an illegal change to the sleep apnea screening procedures for truck drivers.

According to the OOIDA lawsuit, a 2013 Congressional statute mandated that the FMCSA use the formal rulemaking process to alter sleep apnea provisions for truck drivers. It further claims that the agency violated that statute when it included a change to sleep apnea procedures on a 2015 rule aimed at the forms medical examiners use to complete Department of Transportation physicals. The sleep apnea change was not included in the original proposal for the rule, which means it circumvented the public notice and comment periods that are typically part of the formal rulemaking process.

Meanwhile, the FMCSA claims that it did not make substantial changes to the sleep apnea regulations. It says that existing agency guidance allows medical examiners to determine when a truck driver should be referred for in-lab sleep apnea testing. The guidance was in place before Congress established the 2013 statute. On Jan. 5, a three-judge panel ruled in favor of the FMCSA. The OOIDA could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals refuses to rehear the case.

Truck accidents can be caused by a number of factors, including driver fatigue. If a drowsy truck driver causes a crash, injured victims may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit against that truck driver and/or his or her employer. If the complaint is successful, a court could award the victim financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other related damages.

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