Articles Posted in Transportation Law

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Oregon Coast is a non-profit corporation that operates tourist trains on a portion of track in Oregon that is owned by the Port of Tillamook Bay, a federally regulated railroad authorized by the Board. In 2014, the State sent Oregon Coast a cease and desist order, alleging that Oregon Coast’s repair work was violating a state “removal-fill law,” which, among other things, requires a state permit for the removal of any amount of material from waters designated as Essential Salmonid Habitat. Oregon Coast filed suit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, arguing that the removal-fill law is preempted by the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act (ICCTA), 49 U.S.C. 10101 et seq., which governs federal regulation of railroads. The court concluded that the repair work done by Oregon Coast under its agreement with the Port falls under the Board’s jurisdiction because the work is done under the auspices of a federally regulated rail carrier and is sufficiently related to the provision of transportation over the interstate rail network. The State’s removal-fill law is preempted as applied to this work, and the district court erred in concluding otherwise. The court reversed and remanded for further proceedings because the district court’s rulings on the preliminary injunction, permanent injunction, and declaratory relief were all premised on this incorrect legal determination. View "Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad, LLC v. State of Oregon Department of State Lands" on Justia Law

Posted in: Transportation Law

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After BNSF suspended an employee, BMWED filed a complaint against BNSF alleging that BNSF's disciplinary actions interfered with and subverted the Railway Labor Act's (RLA), 45 U.S.C. 151-188, grievance and arbitration processes, and sought a declaration that BNSF’s actions violated the RLA. BNSF subsequently filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to enjoin BMWED from proceeding with a threatened strike. The district court ruled in favor of BNSF, concluding that the dispute was minor and subject to mandatory arbitration, and enjoining the threatened strike. BMWED filed an interlocutory appeal of the preliminary injunction. The court concluded that the subsequent entry of the final judgment in the case mooted the question of the procedural propriety of the preliminary injunction. The court concluded that the district court properly applied the ConRail test (Consolidated Rail Corp. v. Railway Labor Executives. Ass’n ) and properly concluded that the parties' dispute is a minor one. The court rejected BMWED's attempts to sidestep the ConRail framework by claiming that the distinction between minor and major disputes does not apply to the case. Rather, the court concluded that this is a dispute that fits squarely within the major/minor framework from the RLA and ConRail. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Bhd. of Maint. of Way v. BNSF" on Justia Law

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The Union petitioned for review of the FRA's decision that the agency lacked jurisdiction to decide whether the Union Pacific Railroad Company had authority under the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to designate terminals for a new service the railroad had instituted in California. The court concluded that, because this was a dispute regarding interpretation of the CBA, it was governed by the procedures of the Railway Labor Act (RLA), 45 U.S.C. 151a, for disputes requiring interpretation or application of agreements covering rates of pay, rules, or working conditions. The FRA correctly determined that this was fundamentally an issue of contract interpretation beyond its adjudicatory powers. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "United Transp. Union v. Foxx" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against BNSF, alleging claims under MCA 39-2-703, which governs the liability of a railway for negligent mismanagement. BNSF removed to federal court. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's order granting summary judgment in favor of BNSF. The district court found that plaintiff's claims were preempted by the Railway Labor Act (RLA), 45 U.S.C. 151-88. Applying the Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. v. Norris framework, the court concluded that plaintiff's state claim concerning a collision was not preempted. The right of railway employees to sue on the basis of negligence or mismanagement resulting in termination may be unusual in other jurisdictions, but such a right is undoubtedly recognized in Montana. The court concluded that plaintiff's claim concerning the conduct leading to the collision was independent of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and did not require interpretation by the CBA. Therefore, plaintiff's claim was not preempted by the RLA. The court also concluded that BNSF's disciplinary proceedings were not the legal cause of plaintiff's suspension and termination. Consequently, plaintiff's punitive damages claim was reinstated. The court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Wolfe v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs challenged Washington statutes that require a certificate of "public convenience and necessity" (PCN) in order to operate a ferry on Lake Chelan in central Washington sate. The court held that the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment did not encompass a right to operate a public ferry on intrastate navigable waterways and affirmed the district court's dismissal of this claim. The court also held that the district court properly abstained from deciding on plaintiffs' challenges to the PCN requirement as applied to the provision of boat transportation services on the lake. The district court properly abstained under the Pullman doctrine, but the district court should have retained jurisdiction instead of dismissing the claim. Therefore, the court vacated and remanded this claim with instructions to the district court to retain jurisdiction over the constitutional challenge. View "Courtney, et al. v. Goltz, et al." on Justia Law

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Dandino petitioned under 49 U.S.C. 521(b)(9) for review of an order of the FMCSA affirming a civil penalty to Dandino for transporting goods after the agency had revoked its operating authority and before that authority was reinstated. The court held that, for purposes of section 521(b)(9), when a final agency order was mailed to a party, and there was no proof of actual receipt, there was a rebuttable presumption that the order was received within three days of mailing. Applying this holding to these circumstances, the court concluded that Dandino's petition was timely. However, on the merits, the court concluded that Dandino's concession that it operated "without the required operating authority" was dispositive of its petition on the merits. The court rejected Dandino's remaining claim and dismissed the petition for review. View "Dandino, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Transp." on Justia Law

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Multistar, a for-hire motor carrier engaged in the business of transporting hazardous materials, petitioned for review of FMCSA's order to cease operations, and, in a separate petition for review, challenged the agency's denial of Multistar's petition for administrative review. The court dismissed the petitions insofar as they challenged the "unsatisfactory" rating and the order to cease operations because the court could not reach the merits of Multistar's substantive claims where there was no final agency decision. The court held that Multistar received all of the process it was due with regard to the contested violations, and the agency's denial of Multistar's petition for review was not arbitrary or capricious. Accordingly, the court dismissed in part and denied in part. View "Multistar Industries, Inc. v. USDOT, et al" on Justia Law

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CTTA filed this action seeking to invalidate two ordinances where the City and County of San Francisco required tow truck drivers to obtain permits to operate in San Francisco and towing firms to obtain permits to conduct business within San Francisco. CTTA primarily argued that the entire "permit scheme" (as it called both ordinances) was preempted by federal law. The district court upheld the permit scheme for "non-consensual" towing, but enjoined enforcement against those doing exclusively "consensual" towing and against tow truck drivers simply "passing through" San Francisco. Both parties cross-appealed. The CTTA's challenge to the entire permit scheme necessarily encompassed all of the permit scheme's components - each of which could be preempted. The district court analyzed the permit scheme in a way the parties presented the scheme, as a whole, but without specifically addressing its individual provisions. In doing so, however, the district court ran afoul of American Trucking Associations v. City of Los Angeles, which required "examining the specific provisions" of the permit scheme. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "California Tow Truck Assoc. v. City and County of San Francisco" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs were United States citizens or legal permanent residents who had good reason to believe they were on the Terrorist Screening Center's (TSC) no-fly list (List). They initially submitted grievances through the redress program run by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), but the government refused to confirm or deny their inclusion on the List. Rather than continuing to pursue their administrative grievances with the TSA, Plaintiffs filed this action against the directors of the TSC and FBI and the attorney general, challenging the TSA's grievance procedures. The district court dismissed the case, holding that TSA was a necessary party to the litigation but that TSA could not feasibly be joined in the district court due to 49 U.S.C. 46110, which grants federal courts of appeals exclusive jurisdiction to review TSA's final orders. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) section 46110 does not strip the district court of federal question jurisdiction over substantive challenges to the inclusion of one's name on the List; and (2) the district court's determination that TSA was a necessary party was not an abuse of discretion, but the court erred in holding that joinder of TSA was infeasible in light of section 46110. View "Latif v. Holder" on Justia Law

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This case arose when the Port of Los Angeles prohibited motor carriers from operating drayage trucks on port property unless the motor carriers entered into concession agreements with the port. The concession agreements set forth fourteen specific requirements covering, among other things, truck driver employment, truck maintenance, parking, and port security. The agreements were adopted as part of the port's "Clean Truck Program," adopted in response to community opposition that had successfully stymied port growth. Plaintiff challenged the concession agreements, arguing that they were preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAA Act), 49 U.S.C. 14501 et seq. The court held that the district court meticulously identified and applied the governing law. The court affirmed the district court's holding that the financial capability, maintenance, off-street parking, and placard provisions were not preempted. The court reversed the district court's conclusion that the employee-driver provision was saved from preemption by the market participant doctrine, and remanded for further proceedings.