Trucking groups back ATA port appeal

Jill Dunn | January 07, 2011

Four organizations have filed briefs supporting the American Trucking Associations’ appeal against the Port of Los Angeles over the port’s concession agreement.
       
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Intermodal Association of North America, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, which filed jointly with the Harbor Trucking Association, have filed amicus briefs as of Jan. 6.

The foundation provides free legal aid to employees whose rights have been violated by compulsory unionism, while the center is a public interest law firm. The HTA is a coalition of Los Angles and Long Beach intermodal carriers.

On Aug. 26, the U.S. District Court for Central California found in favor of the port regarding the agreement it requires carriers to sign to do business with the entity. The most contentious issue was the port’s ban on owner-operators from regularly serving the port, requiring instead that they be carrier employees.

That ruling said the port’s requirements were protected from federal preemption because it was acting as a private market participant, which is immune from preemption.
If it had been acting as a governmental regulator, it would have to adhere to federal preemption.

Amicus briefs are filed by those who have a strong interest in the subject matter, but are not a party in the case. The friend of the court briefs reflect many points made by the ATA in its Dec. 28 brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the association said.

Owner-operators would be driven out of business by the port’s regulations and the application of the market participant exception would give the port free reign to interfere with virtually every aspect of the international commerce moving through it, the amicus briefs contended.

OOIDA wrote that the lower court “based certain findings about the nature of owner-
operators’ businesses and safety practices on unfounded and irrelevant trial testimony.”

The ATA argued the port is not acting as a market participant because it neither buys nor sells drayage services. Further, the port’s disputed actions, including promoting economic development and clean air traditionally are those of a government entity and not of a private party.

The port’s response brief is due Jan. 31 and the ATA’s optional reply is due Feb. 14, with the court expected to schedule oral arguments soon after that.

In a separate matter, the New Jersey Motor Truck Association has asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to determine if federal law preempts the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from requiring the authority’s registry stickers on trucks before entering. The port stipulated trucks entering its facilities display stickers indicating compliance with its new Drayage Truck Registry.