U.S.D.C. Judge finds Affinity Logistics drivers are independent contractors...under Georgia law

On March 22, 2010, the United States District Court for the Southern District of California issued its Memorandum Decision and Order finding that drivers for Affinity Logistics were properly classified as independent contractors following a bench trial of the claims of a certified class of delivery truck drivers.  Ruiz v. Affinity Logistics Corp., ___ F.Supp.2d ___, 2010 WL 1038226 (S.C. Cal. Mar. 22, 2010).  Unlike California's strong presumption in favor of and employer-employee relationship, Georgia law apparently includes a presumption that a contract specifying an independent contractor relationship is presumed true.  According to Judge Sammartino, the plaintiffs didn't meet their burden in the bench trial for the certified class of delivery/logistics drivers.

The plaintiffs submitted evidence of highly detailed manuals specifying how work was to be performed.  The Court did not believe defendant's testimony that the detailed manuals were mere "wishes" about how work should be performed.  The problem, according to the Court, was that no real evidence demonstrated that the manuals were given to all drivers or that any of them read the manuals.  Coupled with evidence that drivers could have someone else drive the route for them, this absence of substantial proof of control, according to the Court, doomed plaintiffs' claims.