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New York, City of v. Ritter Transp., Inc.

Citation: 12 ELR 21139
No. No. 80 Civ. 5401, 515 F. Supp. 663/(S.D.N.Y., 06/05/1981)

The district court rules that New York City Fire Department regulations governing the transportation of hazardous gas in and around New York City are not preempted by the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA) or the Motor Carrier Safety regulations. The fire department regulations allow only shipments of bulk hazardous gas to and from Long Island to pass through New York City and require those shipments to avoid congested routes through the city in favor of more circuitous routes. Initially, the court determines that, under the inconsistency rule established by the HMTA, a local law is preempted (1) if it is in direct conflict with the federal law or (2) if it conflicts with the federal law's purposes and objectives. Next, the court holds that the fire department regulations are consistent with the federal regulations, which are aimed at protecting life and property from the risks of fire and explosion inherent in the transportation of hazardous materials. In addition, the court rules that any transit delay caused by enforcement of the fire department regulations promotes safety and is not an "unnecessary delay" within the meaning of the HMTA regulations. The court also rules that the regulations do not impose an unconstitutional burden on interstate commerce and are not unconstitutionally vague.

[The district court decision was affirmed by the Second Circuit, 12 ELR 20774; issues raised in these decisions are analyzed at 12 ELR 10075 — Ed.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
Allen G. Schwartz, Corporation Counsel; Barry L. Schwartz
100 Church St., New York NY 10007
(212) 566-2697

Counsel for Defendant
William F. O'Connor
1 E. 57th St., New York NY 10022
(212) 593-0770