Articles Posted in Transportation Law

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) maintains a database of inspection history and safety records relating to commercial motor vehicle operators. Appellants, a group of commercial motor vehicle operators, brought suit against the FMSCA and the Department of Transportation, arguing that the potential disclosure to employers of “non-serious” driver-related safety records contained in the database violates the Privacy Act. The district court granted the FMCSA’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, concluding that 49 U.S.C. 31150 was ambiguous as to the agency’s authority to include non-serious driver-related safety violations in the database and, further, that the agency’s interpretation of section 31150 was a reasonable and permissible construction of the statute and was entitled to Chevron deference. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) section 31150 is ambiguous as to the question of non-serious driver-related safety violations; and (2) the agency’s interpretation of the statute is not arbitrary, capricious, or manifestly contrary to the statute. View "Flock v. United States Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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The Massachusetts Delivery Association (MDA), a trade organization representing same-day delivery companies in Massachusetts, brought this suit on behalf of its members seeking a declaration that “Prong 2” of the Massachusetts Independent Contractor Statute is preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA) as well as an injunction barring the Attorney General from enforcing Prong 2 against its members. After the First Circuit twice remanded the case, the district court held that the FAAAA preempts Prong 2 as to the members of the MDA as a matter of logical effect. Applying the logic of the First Circuit's decision in Schwann v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., the First Circuit affirmed, holding that the application of Prong 2 to the members of the MDA is preempted by the FAAAA. View "Massachusetts Delivery Ass’n v. Healey" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, individuals who contracted with FedEx to provide pick-up and delivery services, filed a complaint claiming that FedEx should have treated and paid them as employees rather than as independent contractors because FedEx could not satisfy all three requirements under the Massachusetts Independent Contractor Statute (Massachusetts Statute). Plaintiffs sought damages for loss of wages, improper wage deductions, and loss of benefits. The district court ultimately granted FedEx summary judgment on all counts, concluding (1) application of one of the requirements of the Massachusetts Statute is preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA), and this preempted requirement is not severable from the two remaining requirements; and (2) the remaining two requirements are preempted. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) the express preemption provision of the FAAAA preempts the application of one of the Massachusetts Statute’s requirements to FedEx, but the preempted requirement is severable from the two remaining requirements; and (2) the district court erred by concluding, sua sponte, that application of the remaining two requirements was also preempted by the FAAAA. View "Schwann v. FedEx Ground Package Sys., Inc." on Justia Law

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The Town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island filed claims against various federal and state transportation agencies and officers in federal district court challenging tolls collected on the Sakonnet River Bridge. The Town alleged that the tolls violated of the anti-tolling provision of the Federal-Aid Highway Act and the National Environmental Policy Act and sought injunctive and declaratory relief, attorney fees, and unspecified general relief. After the Town filed suit, the Rhode Island legislature repealed the tolls. Thereafter, the Town filed a motion seeking restitution of previously collected tolls. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss all claims as having been rendered moot by the legislative repeal. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly found that the legislative repeal rendered moot the Town’s claims for injunctive and declaratory relief; and (2) the Town did not sufficiently allege or preserve a restitution claim, and even if it did, the restitution claim would still fail because the Town lacked a right of action. View "Town of Portsmouth v. Lewis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Transportation Law

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Appellants in this case were three shipping operators who pay a fee to Puerto Rico to conduct business out of the Port of San Juan. The Commonwealth supplied each company with cargo-scanning technology, required them to scan all of their inbound cargo at the port, and then, to pay for the scanning, charged each an additional fee on top of the existing fees that it already charged operators to utilize the port. A magistrate judge concluded that the additional fee was constitutional as applied to the three shipping operators equipped with the scanning technology and did not violate the dormant Commerce Clause. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the three shipping operators failed to prove that the additional fee, as applied to them, violates the dormant Commerce Clause. View "Camara de Mercadeo v. Vazquez" on Justia Law

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A package was shipped from a FedEx location in Eureka, California to an address in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The printed address label inadvertently showed an incorrect address, that address being Plaintiff’s address. When the package was delivered, Plaintiff and her eleven-year-old daughter opened the package to find two bags of marijuana. Plaintiff alerted the police. That same day, a man came to Plaintiff’s door asking whether Plaintiff had received a package. As a result of these events, Plaintiff and her minor daughters suffered fear and anxiety. Plaintiff, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor children, sued FedEx, alleging invasion of privacy, infliction of emotional distress, and negligence. Specifically, Plaintiff claimed that FedEx mislabeled and misdelivered the package and that FedEx disclosed Plaintiff’s address to third parties. The case was removed to federal district court. The court granted summary judgment for FedEx, concluding that Plaintiff’s claims were preempted by the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA). The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff’s three common-law claims were barred by the preemption provision of the ADA. View "Tobin v. Fedex Corp." on Justia Law

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In 1996, TWA Flight 800 exploded in mid-air and crashed eight miles south of Long Island, New York. After an investigation that was the largest and most expensive in the history of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the NTSB accepted the CIA’s assessment of eyewitness accounts and concluded that a mechanical explosion caused the crash. Theorizing that the CIA was covering up the true cause of the crash, Plaintiff requested certain documents from the investigation. The district granted summary judgment for the CIA, concluding that the Freedom of Information Act permitted the agency to withhold the requested documents. The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s order granting the CIA’s motion for summary judgment, holding that the CIA properly withheld the materials under the Act. View "Stalcup v. Cent. Intelligence Agency" on Justia Law

Posted in: Transportation Law

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The “B Prong” of the Massachusetts Independent Contractor Statute, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 148B(a)(2), requires that workers perform a service outside the usual course of the employer’s business to be classified as independent contractors. The Massachusetts Delivery Association (MDA) filed an action for a declaration that the B Prong is preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Act (FAAAA), and for an injunction barring the Attorney General from enforcing section 148B(a)(2) against the MDA’s members. The FAAAA preempts state laws that “relate to” the prices, routes, or services of a motor carrier “with respect to the transportation of property.” The district court held that the FAAAA does not preempt section 148B(a)(2). The First Circuit reversed, holding that the district court incorrectly interpreted the preemption test under the FAAAA and incorrectly applied the test to section 148B(a)(2). Remanded. View "Mass. Delivery Ass’n v. Coakley" on Justia Law

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The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles sought proposals from contractors to print and send registration renewal notices along with advertisements to raise revenue to defray costs. RMV would provide the contractor with information (name, address, date of birth, and license number) that was generally exempt from public disclosure under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. 2721-25, and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 4, sect. 7, cl. 26(n), that the contractor would need to safeguard from unlawful public disclosure. Defendant's winning bid indicated that it understood and accepted the terms. The contract specified that Massachusetts would continue to exercise ownership over all personal data, and that a violation of the DPPA or the Massachusetts privacy law would cause the contract to terminate. Plaintiff, who received a registration renewal notice that included advertisements, filed a putative class action on behalf of himself and other drivers who, without providing consent, had received advertisements from defendant. The district court granted defendant judgment on the pleadings based on failure to join the Commonwealth as an indispensable party. The First Circuit affirmed, finding no violation of the DPPA. Defendant does not disclose the information it legitimately receives, as the state's contractor, to others. View "Downing v. Globe Direct LLC" on Justia Law

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Airline insurance (USAUI) issued to Pace covered certain risks assumed by Pace in contractual arrangements with other companies, which generally consisted of charter programs. The policy referenced "legally obligated to pay as damages." Pace entered into a charter program contractual arrangement with Patriot, which entered into an agreement to transport L&M customers to destinations that L&M had booked for travelers. L&M purchased a required surety bond. In 2002, L&M claimed that Patriot had unlawfully refused to provide aircraft for scheduled flights, and Patriot contended that L&M not fulfilled payment obligations. Patriot terminated the agreement and, two months later, filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11. L&M filed a proof of claim. The bankruptcy court disallowed the claim. In 2005, L&M filed suit, claiming coverage by policies, including the USAUI policy. The district court held that the policy did not provide coverage for a breach of contract claim. The First Circuit affirmed, finding no ambiguity in policy language.