In a closely watched case for transportation sector companies, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down two elements of the Port of Los Angeles’ 2007 Clean Truck Program, but did not take action on another issue wherein the Port could exclude trucking companies for violations of other, non-preempted provisions.

The American Trucking Associations brought suit asserting the concession agreements preempted existing law in the 1994 Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA) which says, in part, a state or local government “may not enact or enforce a law, regulation or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier…with respect to the transportation of property.”

Within those concession agreements were five conditions:

  • Drivers had to be employees of companies and not independent owner-operators.
  • A placard must be affixed to the truck with a phone number to receive calls about safety or environmental concerns.
  • A plan was to be submitted detailing parking locations when the trucks were not in service.
  • Demonstrate the financial capability to operate.
  • Have a maintenance plan for the truck.

In 2011, before the 9th Circuit of Appeals, the ATA defeated the employee driver requirement, but the other four conditions remained. The case was argued before the Supreme Court on April 16th and the decision reversed, in part, on June 13th, 2013.

The action taken by the Court was to hold that the FAAAA expressly preempts the concession agreement’s placard and parking requirements. The Court said that key in their decision was the fact that there were criminal penalties (fines or possible imprisonment) for violations. As stated in the first paragraph, the Court did not address a second issue which was granted status, or “Certiorari,” and that was the 1954 decision in Castle v. Hayes Freight Lines, Inc., which bars the Port from excluding trucking companies for other violations.

References:

  1. Port of Los Angeles Clean Truck Program: http://www.portoflosangeles.org/ctp/idx_ctp.asp
  2. SCOTUSblog: http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/american-trucking-associations-inc-v-city-of- los-angeles/

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