Following a four-week trial in Sonora, Calif., a 12-member jury dismissed two business-interference claims that a California training school lodged against a crane-operator testing company. The trial followed protracted litigation between the two parties.
California Crane School (CCS), Grass Valley, Calif., is a training center that prepares candidates for certification exams developed by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO), Fairfax, Va., a non-profit that industry members also refer to as CCO.
The lawsuit claimed that NCCCO and its testing-services provider, International Assessment Institute (IAI), interfered with business relationships of CCS and its owner, John Nypl, with the intention of causing them harm. Nypl sought more than $5 million in damages.
In a statement following the trial, Graham Brent, NCCCO executive director, said, “Whenever there is evidence of inappropriate conduct by firms or individuals who desire to participate in CCO certification programs, NCCCO has an obligation to ensure they comply with all prevailing policies and procedures.” Nypl claims IAI books $10 million a year grading CCO exams. NCCCO says it uses IAI as a quality-assurance measure.
This trial was the third case involving the parties since they first went to court in 2005. In the first suit, NCCCO claimed the trainer was using the commission’s CCO trademark and logo without its permission. The federal judge on that case ruled in NCCCO’s favor.
CCS later sued the commission for violations of the Cartwright Act, the state’s anti-trust law, and the California Unfair Competition Law. CCS argued that the agency was monopolizing the field of testing and certifying crane workers. A state judge dismissed the case.
Nypl and his lawyer, Joseph M. Alioto, San Francisco, still contend that NCCCO and IAI are conspiring to form a monopoly on crane certifications nationwide. Nypl says he plans to appeal the jury’s decision. An NCCCO attorney responds, “I’m disappointed to hear [their] appetite for litigation has not abated.”