OOIDA appealing court ruling on sleep apnea suit

by Truck News

GRAIN VALLEY, MO – The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is appealing the United States Court of Appeals dismissal of their lawsuit alleging the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) bypassed the rulemaking process when regulating sleep apnea.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit dismissed the OOIDA’s appeal in January, saying the appeal “lacked standing.”

“We don’t agree with the ruling, and we also think it runs counter to decisions made in other appellate courts,” said OOIDA Acting President Todd Spencer.

Spencer says the addition of regulations and guidelines for screening for the sleep disorder hold drivers hostage when it comes time to get a physical.

The OOIDA’s lawsuit filed last April alleges the FMCSA changed regulations regarding sleep apnea without notice of the new rules by requiring certified medical examiners to use a new form when conducting drivers’ physical exams.

In 2015 the FMCSA added obstructive sleep apnea to Appendix A of the medical forms examiners use, the appendix is a list of medical criteria examiners must review during a physical exam when deciding whether they can certify a driver.

The OOIDA argued the action wasn’t subject to public comment or a cost-benefit analysis.

The organization says it is concerned about reports from members who say sleep studies to screen for obstructive apnea have been costly.

Sufferers of obstructed sleep apnea often stop breathing for a few seconds up to several minutes while sleeping, sometimes up to several hundred times a night, causing wakefulness and preventing deep and restful sleep.

In July the U.S. Department of Transportation withdrew its previously announced notice of rulemaking, which would have allowed the issue to be reviewed with input from the industry and additional regulations to be created surrounding the issue.

“While most people in trucking have the perspective that the withdrawal fixed the problem, it didn’t,” Spencer said. “Withdrawing the rulemaking allows what had been going on previously to be followed and kept in practice. Without the rulemaking, the only way the problem can be resolved is through the courts in the manner we’re following.”

The OOIDA hasn’t given a timeline for filing the appeal.

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