Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fed Judge to Reinstate Injunction Against Portions of Los Angeles Port Truck Plan

The federal judge who ruled in favor of the Port of Los Angeles port trucking program last month has agreed to reinstate an injunction against the most contentious portion of the truck program until a federal appeals court can hear the case.

District Court Judge Christina Snyder issued the tentative ruling on Monday and is expected to issue a formal ruling on the matter sometime this week.

The ruling will reinstate an injunction against a portion of the port plan that requires trucking firms servicing the port to only hire per-hour employee drivers while the appeals case is under way.

The American Trucking Associations, who had sued the port over non-environmental portions of the truck plan in 2008, asked Judge Snyder on Sept. 24 to reinstate the injunction that had been in place during the trial while the group appealed to the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The injunction, originally issued by Judge Snyder in 2009, blocked certain portions of the truck plan, including the employee-only mandate, from being implemented by the port.

The employee-only mandate and several other components of an access license scheme contained in the Los Angeles port's truck program were cleared for full implementation when Judge Snyder ruled in favor of the port on Sept. 16 and as part of the ruling dissolved the original injunction.

Judge Snyder based her ruling in favor of the port on several legal issues called "federal preemption" and "market participation."

While she found that portions of the port truck plan violated federal law, she also ruled that the port was exempt from the applicable federal law because the port was acting as a participant in the trucking industry, much like a private company.

In her tentative ruling reinstating the injunction, Judge Snyder said that while she was confident of her ruling in favor of the truck program, she recognized that "the interpretation and the application of the market participant doctrine in this case present substantial and novel legal questions."

She also determined that the trucking industry was likely to suffer "irreparable harm" if the employee-only mandate was allowed to be implemented and was later overturned.

However, Judge Snyder also concluded that such harm would not arise from another portion of the truck plan that calls for all trucking firms servicing the port to have an off-street parking plan for their vehicles. This portion of the trucking program will not be covered by the reinstated injunction.

The ATA plans to file with the Ninth Circuit as soon as Judge Snyder makes the tentative ruling on the injunction formal. As part of the tentative ruling both the ATA and the port have agreed to seek an expedited hearing before the appeals panel.