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National Tank Truck Carriers, Inc. v. Burke

Citation: 12 ELR 20853
No. No. 78-0621, 535 F. Supp. 509/(D.R.I., 03/17/1982)

In a suit seeking to enjoin enforcement of Rhode Island's regulations governing the transportation of hazardous materials, the court holds that certain of these regulations are inconsistent with and therefore preempted by the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA). Initially, the court rules that the regulations concerning permits, curfew, and subsequent written notice of an accident are inconsistent with the HMTA and, therefore, invalid. Implementation of these regulations will cause unnecessary delays in the transportation of hazardous materials, contrary to Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, and frustrate the congressional mandate of uniform regulation. However, the requirements concerning two-way radios, immediate reporting of accidents, illumination of headlights, and vehicle inspection are consistent with the HMTA and are not invalid. Next, the court concludes that plaintiff's contentions that the regulations are unreasonable, that the administrator lacked authority to promulgate the regulations, and that the requirements are vague and thus void under the Due Process Clause, are without merit. The court rules that the regulations concerning two-way radio, immediate reporting of accidents, illumination of headlights, and vehicle inspection do not contravene the Equal Protection Clause since they do not infringe on a fundamental right or create a suspect class and they provide a rational method for meeting the state's legitimate goal of ensuring public safety. Neither do they violate the Commerce Clause since the regulations do not place an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce.

Counsel for Plaintiff
James J. McGair
919 Industrial Bank Bldg., Providence RI 02903
(401) 861-1717

Lawrence W. Bierlein
910 17th St. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 659-9475

Counsel for Defendant
James M. Roney
Mann & Roney
344 Wickenden St., Providence RI 02903
(401) 421-9794

John R. McDermott, Special Ass't Attorney General
215 Benefit St., Providence RI 02903
(401) 277-3168