Justia U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Transportation Law
Schwann v. FedEx Ground Package Sys., Inc.
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
Town of Portsmouth v. Lewis
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 After the Town filed suit, the Rhode Island legislature repealed the tolls.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
Camara de Mercadeo v. Vazquez
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
Tobin v. Fedex Corp.
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
Stalcup v. Cent. Intelligence Agency
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
Mass. Delivery Ass’n v. Coakley
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
Downing v. Globe Direct LLC
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
Lopez & Medina Corp. v. Piedmont Aviation
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.
MA Delivery Ass’n v. Coakley
The Massachusetts Delivery Association claimed that a state law is preempted as to motor carriers under the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994, 108 Stat. 1569, which expressly preempts state attempts to regulate "a price, route, or service of any motor carrier," The challenged state law, part of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, sect. 148B(a)(2), which requires that an individual performing a service for another be classified as an employee unless "the service is performed outside the usual course of the business of the employer." The MDA also claimed that the state statute imposes an undue burden which violates the Commerce Clause. The district court found that Younger abstention was appropriate because, while the Association is not itself a party to relevant state litigation, three of its members are defendants in state civil proceedings brought not by the Attorney General (defendant in this case) but by private parties. The First Circuit remanded for the court to exercise jurisdiction, concluding that any decision will not interfere with pending state cases.
Air Sunshine, Inc.v. Carl
The airline sued federal employees, including an FAA principal maintenance inspector, claiming that intentional and improper delays with respect to inspections and certifications substantially destroyed its business. The district court dismissed most claims, but did not dismiss "Bivens" claims of violation of procedural due process rights and of retaliation for protected First Amendment activity. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the allegations were not sufficient to support denial of qualified immunity.