American Trucking Associations, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Preemption
  • Date Filed: January 11, 2013
  • Case #: 11-798
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court Below: Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 660 F.3d 384 (2011)
  • Full Text Opinion

(1) Whether the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act contains an unstated “market participant” exception that allows a municipal governmental entity to act in conflict with the express preemption clause when the municipal entity does not participate in the market and does not have any interest in the efficient procurement of services; (2) “Whether permitting a municipal governmental entity to bar federally licensed motor carriers from access to a port operates as a partial suspension of the motor carriers' federal registration.”

In 2008, as part of its “Clean Truck Program” (CTP), the Port of Los Angeles began requiring trucks that move cargo from marine terminals at the Port to abide by fourteen specific requirements regarding various administrative, cleanliness, and safety regulations. In addition to the requirements, the CTP effected a ban on older, “high emissions” trucks, incentivized the acquisition of “clean” trucks, and established a system of penalties for using older trucks to transport cargo.

American Trucking Associations, Inc., (ATA), challenged the requirements by contending that they were preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAA Act), 49 U.S.C. § 14501 et seq. The district court found that the FAAA Act did not preempt the requirements because (1) some provisions did not relate to motor carriers’ rates, routes, and services; and (2) because the State adopted the entire agreement (and the challenged provisions in particular) in its capacity as a “market participant.” The district court further held that the FAAA Act’s exemption for regulation “genuinely responsive to motor vehicle safety” saved the provision requiring motor carriers to create and administer regular maintenance plans from being preempted.

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s holdings that the financial capability, maintenance, off-street parking, and placard provisions were not preempted. It reversed the district court’s conclusion that the employee-driver provision is not preempted by the market participant doctrine. On appeal the Supreme Court will rule on the “market participant” issue and decide whether barring federally licensed truckers port access violates their positive status as registered motor carriers.

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