ATA seeks court action

Jill Dunn | January 06, 2010

The American Trucking Associations is seeking a summary judgment for some of its challenge of the Port of Los Angeles Concession Plan in court Jan. 11.

On Jan. 5, the ATA filed its final response brief in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. A summary judgment would allow a court to decide some or all issues before trial if there is no legitimate dispute over the facts surrounding those issues.

Among the association’s requests is asking the court if the concession agreement has a sufficient impact on motor carrier rates, routes and services to fall within the federal pre-emption provision.

In mid-March, the court will have a trial for the two sides to debate legal issues.

The association stated the court is not analyzing this case on a blank slate because the issue had been the subject of two previous decisions in the same court and one from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In the last of those opinions, the Central District of California issued a preliminary injunction barring the port from implementing many of its concession agreements related to motor carrier prices, routes, or services.

A significant point of contention is the port’s requirement barring owner-operators. Port of Long Beach began a similar Clean Truck Program in October 2008, but did not require port truckers be employees. On Jan. 4, the port announced it had achieved its clean air goals two years ahead of schedule.

Still, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club filed suit Dec. 29 in the California Superior Court in Los Angeles regarding their plan. The plaintiffs contend an agreement between the ATA and the Long Beach Harbor Commission could illegally reverse efforts to improve air quality in area communities.

The groups say the new agreement gives ATA authority to oversee future updates to the Clean Truck Program at Long Beach even if the port is acting to protect public health and safety.
The arrangement requires the port to receive ATA’s approval before making changes to the program or risk ATA filing a lawsuit. The groups say the private agreement, entered into Oct. 19, violates Long Beach Municipal Code and state law, which require public involvement and an environmental review.

The plaintiffs said the Long Beach Harbor Commission has denied requests to examine potentially adverse health impacts under the new agreement as required under the California Environmental Quality Act and has entered into the agreement without public approval by the Long Beach City Council.