Thursday, January 7, 2010

ATA To Seek Summary Judgment In Los Angeles Port Trucking Case

The ongoing lawsuit by the American Trucking Associations against a trucking program at the Port of Los Angeles could see some resolution next week, if a judge finds in favor of an ATA motion seeking summary judgment for portions of the suit.

The case began in September 2007 when the ATA sought an injunction to block the implementation of a truck program jointly developed but separately implemented by the neighboring ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. While the initial moves for an injunction to prevent the truck program from being implemented in October 2008 failed, a federal court in March 2009 ruled that portions of the truck program likely violated federal law and thus issued an injunction on those portions of the plan until a full court hearing on the matter. In October 2009, the ATA and he Port of Long Beach reached a settlement, which removed the Long Beach port from the lawsuit. The Los Angeles port remains committed to fighting the suit and the full case is due before the court in March. The ATA motion for summary judgment is expected to be heard by the U.S. District Court on Jan. 11.

The ATA plans to ask the court to decide certain issues if there is no legitimate dispute as to the material facts surrounding those issues. The ATA is also planning to ask the court to find in its favor on the legal issue of whether the Port's Concession Agreement has a sufficient impact on motor carrier rates, routes and services to fall within the federal pre-emption provision.

The Concession Agreement, which forces motor carrier to abide by port-created rules to gain access to the port, is at the heart of the original suit by the ATA. The association alleges that the concession plan imposes a broad range of operational requirements that create a regulatory environment very similar to state intrastate economic regulation. The association has also argued that the plan would result in far fewer trucking companies being able to service the ports, reducing competition.