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American Trucking Ass'n v. Los Angeles, City of

ELR Citation: 39 ELR 20074
Nos. No. 08-56503, (9th Cir., 03/20/2009) Rev'd & remanded

The Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded a lower court decision denying the trucking industry's motion to preliminarily enjoin two California ports from implementing "concession agreements" designed, among other things, to reduce diesel emissions from trucks servicing container facilities at the ports. The trucking industry argued that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act preempted the concession agreements. The lower court, however, concluded that the trucking industry was not likely to succeed on the merits because the agreements likely fell within a statutory exception preserving the "safety regulatory authority of a State with respect to motor vehicles." When preemption is claimed, a court must pay careful attention to the particular provisions that a state or local entity seeks to impose upon motor carriers. The mere fact that one part of a regulation or group of regulations might come within an exception to preemption does not mean that all other parts of that regulation or group are also excepted. Here, the lower court erred in not examining the specific provisions of the concession agreements, even though it is likely that many of the provisions are preempted. In addition, the balance of equities and the public interest do weigh in favor of a preliminary injunction as to at least portions of the concession agreements, and the agreements are likely to result in at least some irreparable harm to the motor carriers. The lower court therefore abused its discretion when it denied a preliminary injunction as to significant parts of the agreements. On remand, the lower court must determine whether a preliminary injunction should run against all or only a portion of each concession agreement.

[A prior decision in this litigation can be found at 38 ELR 20238.]