University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Sheehan v. Fedex Corporation EE-IN-0130
Docket / Court 3:05-CV-00531 ( N.D. Ind. )
State/Territory Indiana
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Case Summary
Between 2003 and 2009, FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. (“FedEx”) drivers nationwide sued FedEx alleging that they were not paid overtime wages because the company misclassified them as independent contractors instead of employees (the resolution of the MDL is tracked in Docket 3:05-md-00527- ... read more >
Between 2003 and 2009, FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. (“FedEx”) drivers nationwide sued FedEx alleging that they were not paid overtime wages because the company misclassified them as independent contractors instead of employees (the resolution of the MDL is tracked in Docket 3:05-md-00527-RLM-MGG). One of these cases was Sheehan v. Fedex Corporation discussed below.

On May 6, 2005, four former delivery drivers at FedEx filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on their own behalf and on behalf of a nationwide group of all others similarly situated who have worked as delivery drivers for FedEx. The case was assigned to Judge Richard G. Stearns. The plaintiffs sued FedEx under the Declaratory Judgment Act, ERISA, and state law. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiffs sought injunctive relief, declaratory judgment, and monetary damages. They alleged that by incorrectly classifying them as independent contractors and not employees, FedEx violated statutory and common law. Specifically, they claimed that FedEx engaged in acts of behavioral and financial control over the drivers such that the plaintiffs should have been classified as employees and not independent contractors. For example:
- FedEx required every driver to sign a Standard Contractor Operating Agreement that established the terms and conditions of employment of FedEx drivers. However, none of the drivers were able to negotiate for different terms and conditions, resulting in FedEx unilaterally setting the compensation to be paid to the drivers.
- Despite the language in the Agreement, FedEx restricted the freedom of the drivers from selling their routes.
- FedEx required the drivers to purchase vehicles and uniforms and required them to put FedEx’s logo on them.
- FedEx had almost total control of the drivers' working hours and number of packages to deliver.
On June 16, 2005, FedEx answered the complaint. On August 8, 2005, this case was transferred from the District Court of Massachusetts to the District Court of Northern Indiana to be litigated in a multi-district litigation (MDL) under Judge Richard L. Miller Jr. Three law firms were selected from across the country to represent all plaintiffs from all 27 states involved in the MDL.

On March 25, 2005, Judge Miller denied the motion for class certification for the Massachusetts plaintiffs, but granted the motion for plaintiffs from other states. On October 22, 2010, Judge Miller remanded this case back to the District Court of Massachusetts.

On April 4, 2011, the Massachusetts plaintiffs filed a seventh amended complaint. This complaint increased the total number of named plaintiffs to 189. It also sought additional relief: (1) rescission of the Operating Agreement and a restitution award compensating for the reasonable value of the benefit provided to the defendant and (2) punitive damages. On April 7, 2011, Judge Richard Stearns approved a Confidential Settlement Agreement and dismissed the case. The plaintiffs were awarded an undisclosed amount of monetary damages.

In the Northern District of Indiana, MDL counsel continued to fight for attorneys’ fees. On October 17, 2019, the Court granted an amended motion for the allocation of ERISA attorneys’ fees. The Court noted that the case is closed.

Lisa Koo - 02/16/2019
Justin Hill - 11/02/2019


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Defendant-type
Retailer
Discrimination-area
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Pay / Benefits
General
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Multi-District Litigation (MDL)
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) FedEx
Plaintiff Description 189 named Plaintiffs on behalf of a Class of similarly situated persons who have worked as delivery drivers for FedEx Ground in the state of Massachusetts for Defendant.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Filed 2005
Case Closing Year 2011
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
1:05-cv-10936-RGS (D. Mass.)
EE-IN-0130-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/07/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
3:05-cv-531 (N.D. Ind.)
EE-IN-0130-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/06/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
EE-IN-0130-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/06/2005
Amended Complaint [ECF# 2]
EE-IN-0130-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/26/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Seventh Amended Class Action Complaint [ECF# 2227]
EE-IN-0130-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/04/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Approving the Settlement and Dismissing the Action with Prejudice [ECF# 2229] (D. Mass.)
EE-IN-0130-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/07/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Nuechterlein, Christopher A. (N.D. Ind.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
EE-IN-0130-9000
Stearns, Richard Gaylore (D. Mass.) show/hide docs
EE-IN-0130-0004 | EE-IN-0130-9001
Plaintiff's Lawyers Agostino, Peter J. (Indiana) show/hide docs
EE-IN-0130-9000
Lichten, Harold L. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
EE-IN-0130-0003 | EE-IN-0130-9001
Liss-Riordan, Shannon E. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
EE-IN-0130-0001 | EE-IN-0130-0002 | EE-IN-0130-0003 | EE-IN-0130-9000 | EE-IN-0130-9001
Russell, Ian O. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
EE-IN-0130-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Abely, James P. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
EE-IN-0130-9001
Becker, Evelyn L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-IN-0130-9000
Chused, Wesley S. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
EE-IN-0130-9001
Efkeman, Edward J. (Tennessee) show/hide docs
EE-IN-0130-9000
Nuzum, Elianna J. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
EE-IN-0130-9001
Puma, Michael J. (New York) show/hide docs
EE-IN-0130-9000
Rehnquist, James (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
EE-IN-0130-9000 | EE-IN-0130-9001
Smirnoff, Marcey D. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
EE-IN-0130-9000
Smith, Bradford J. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
EE-IN-0130-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -