Justia Transportation Law Opinion Summaries
Gregg v. Uber Technologies, Inc.
Plaintiff sued Uber under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA), claiming Uber willfully misclassified him as an independent contractor rather than an employee, which led to numerous other Labor Code violations. In response, Uber moved to compel arbitration under the “Arbitration Provision” in the “Technology Services Agreement” (TSA).The trial court denied Uber's motion and the Second Appellate District affirmed. However, in June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the decision when it granted Uber's petition for certiorari in light of Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana (2022) ___ U.S. ___ [142 S.Ct. 1906, 213 L.Ed.2d 179] (Viking River).Following this posture, the Second Appellate District held 1.) the TSA’s PAGA Waiver is invalid and must be severed from the Arbitration Provision; 2.) under the Arbitration Provision’s remaining terms, Plaintiff must resolve his claim for civil penalties based on Labor Code violations he allegedly suffered in arbitration, and his claims for penalties based on violations allegedly suffered by other current and former employees must be litigated in court; and 3.) under California law, Plaintiff is not stripped of standing to pursue his non-individual claims in court simply because his individual claim must be arbitrated. View "Gregg v. Uber Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law
Newbold v. Kinder Morgan SNG Operator
Two years after an unfortunate single-boat accident, one of the boat’s two occupants died as a result of his injuries. The boat in which he was a passenger had struck a warning sign that was totally submerged at the time of the allision between the boat and sign. His estate and survivors sued the companies responsible for the sign in question. The district court granted summary judgment to the Defendants on the ground that the incident occurred on water governed by Louisiana law rather than federal. The parties agree that if Louisiana law governs, the claims are barred. At issue in this appeal is whether or not the allision occurred in “navigable” waters such that federal law governs. The Fifth Circuit affirmed, holding that the allision occurred on non-navigable waters. The first ground on which the Plaintiffs claim that the allision took place on navigable water is that the “navigational servitude” for the Refuge is alleged to be 65 feet above the mean sea level (“MSL”). The court explained that the parties agree that the Corps has not in fact permanently flooded the refuge; the water may not be said to be navigable under this theory. Further, the unvegetated channel establishes the ordinary high-water mark of the Bayou; water outside of that channel is not navigable. Finally, the court held that Plaintiffs here fail to present even slight evidence concerning a commercial purpose for the channel in question. View "Newbold v. Kinder Morgan SNG Operator" on Justia Law
BNSF Railway v. FRA
BNSF Railway Co. (“BNSF”) petitions for review, contending that the refusal of the Federal Railroad Administration (“FRA”) to grant a waiver of standard track-inspection regulations so that BNSF could test a new technology was arbitrary and capricious. The Fifth Circuit granted review, vacated, and remanded for reconsideration. The court explained that “Agency action must be reasonable and reasonably explained.” The agency must “articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action, including a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made. Here, the court found that the FRA’s letter lacking in this regard. Therefore, on limited remand, the court directed the FRA to enter its decision no later than one hundred days from the announcement of the court’s opinion. View "BNSF Railway v. FRA" on Justia Law
Professional Airline Flight Control Association v. Spirit Airlines, Inc.
The Professional Airline Flight Control Association complained that Spirit is attempting to change its agreement. Spirit responded that its unilateral decision to open a second operations control center is permitted by the parties’ agreement. The district court agreed with Spirit that this dispute is minor and dismissed the action for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. Section 151 et seq., divides labor disputes into two categories: disputes over the interpretation of an existing agreement are “minor” and resolved exclusively through binding arbitration, and disputes over proposed changes to an agreement or over a new agreement are “major” and addressed through bargaining and mediation. During a major dispute, district courts have subject-matter jurisdiction to enjoin violations of the status quo. But district courts ordinarily lack jurisdiction over minor disputes. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court’s dismissal. View "Professional Airline Flight Control Association v. Spirit Airlines, Inc." on Justia Law
Ramirez v. Super. Ct.
Appellant California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) appealed from a judgment granting Plaintiff’s petition for writ of mandate (judgment). DMV contends the issues presented on appeal are whether the trial court erred in overturning the suspension of Plaintiff’s driver’s license (1) “by applying [former] Government Code section 11440.30. The Fifth Appellate District affirmed the “Judgment Granting Petition For Writ Of Mandate And Awarding Costs And Attorney Fees To Petitioner” and remanded the cause to the court below, with directions to modify the judgment to provide that the matter shall thereafter be remanded to the DMV for further proceedings. The court concluded that former Government Code section 11440.30 was applicable to Plaintiff’s DMV driver’s license suspension hearing. Said former statute is fully consistent with other relevant statutes, including, without limitation, Vehicle Code sections 14100 through 14112 and Government Code section 11501. Further, the court concluded that both CCR section 115.07 and former Government Code section 11440.30 were mandatory and not merely directory. Moreover, substantial evidence supports an implied finding that Plaintiff was prejudiced by DMV’s failure to adhere to former government code section 11440.30. View "Ramirez v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law
In re: Flyers Rights Education Fund, Inc.
Flyers Rights and its current president have taken aim at the small size of airline seats. In their view, small seats slow emergency evacuations and cause medical problems like blood clots. They have petitioned for a writ of mandamus ordering the FAA “to commence rulemaking to establish minimum seat size and spacing requirements for commercial aircraft and to issue a final rule by a date certain.” The DC Circuit denied Flyers Rights’ petition. The court held that Flyers Rights lacks a clear and indisputable right to relief. That’s because the FAA Reauthorization Act speaks only of seat-size regulations that “are necessary for the safety of passengers,” and on the record before the court, the necessity of those regulations is neither clear nor indisputable. View "In re: Flyers Rights Education Fund, Inc." on Justia Law
City of Carthage, Missouri v. Union Pacific Railroad Co.
The City of Carthage sued Union Pacific Railroad Co. for breach of contract, claiming UP failed to maintain several bridges. On summary judgment, the district court ruled that the City’s breach-of-contract claim was barred by the five-year statute of limitations. The City argues that the ten-year statute of limitations applies here because its claim seeks an equitable remedy. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the City’s claim accrued in February 2013, at the latest. On February 15, 2013, the City wrote UP demanding the repair of the bridges—establishing that the City was on notice of a potentially actionable injury. The City waited until 2019—over five years later—to sue UP. The City’s claim is barred by the five-year statute of limitations. Further, here, UP did not engage in any affirmative act during the limitations period. Without more, a failure to act does not justify the continuing wrong rule. View "City of Carthage, Missouri v. Union Pacific Railroad Co." on Justia Law
ANNA GALAZA V. ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS
Plaintiff brought an action against the TSA, alleging discrimination in violation of the Rehabilitation Act when she was terminated from her limited-duty position. According to the allegations in Plaintiff’s complaint, she suffered two injuries while working for the TSA. She alleged that she was terminated due to her disability, and despite the availability of limited duty positions that she could fill, such as “exit lane monitor,” “secondary ticket checker,” or “bypass door monitor.” Plaintiff appealed the dismissal of her Rehabilitation Act claim for the second time. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order dismissing, as preempted by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (“ATSA”), Plaintiff’s claim against the TSA. The panel joined the First, Fifth, Seventh, and Eleventh Circuits in holding that the ATSA, as applicable to security screeners, preempts the Rehabilitation Act. The ATSA authorized the Administrator of the TSA to set aside employment standards for security screeners as necessary to fulfill the TSA’s screening functions under the ATSA. A statutory note to the ATSA provides that the Administrator is authorized to do so notwithstanding any other provision of law. The panel held that use of the phrase “notwithstanding any other provision of law” reflected legislative intent to preempt the provisions of the Rehabilitation Act. Plaintiff contended that preemption was unnecessary because the two statutes could be harmonized, and preemption was foreclosed by explicit language in the Whistleblower Protection Act (“WPEA”). The panel declined to address the issue of whether the WPEA made the Rehabilitation Act generally applicable to security screeners because this issue was not raised in the district court. View "ANNA GALAZA V. ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS" on Justia Law
CENTER FOR COMMUNITY ACTION, ET AL V. FAA, ET AL
To comply with their duties under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the FAA issued an Environmental Assessment (EA) that evaluated the environmental effects of the construction and operation of an Amazon air cargo facility at the San Bernardino International Airport (the “Project”). In evaluating the environmental consequences of the Project, the FAA generally utilized two “study areas” – the General Study Area and the Detailed Study Area. Petitioners are the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice and others (collectively “CCA”) and the State of California. In attacking the parameters of the study areas, the CCA asserted that the FAA did not conform its study areas to the FAA’s Order 1050.1F Desk Reference. The Ninth Circuit filed (1) an order amending the opinion initially filed on November 18, 2021, and amended on October 11, 2022; and (2) an amended opinion denying a petition for review challenging the FAA’s Record of Decision, which found no significant environmental impact stemming from the Project. The panel held that the FAA’s nonadherence to the Desk Reference could not alone serve as the basis for holding that the FAA did not take a “hard look” at the environmental consequences of the Project. Instead, the CCA must show that the FAA’s nonadherence to the Desk Reference had some sort of EA significance aside from simply failing to follow certain Desk Reference instructions. The panel held that the CCA had not done so here. The panel rejected Petitioners’ argument that the EA failed to assess whether the Project met California’s greenhouse gas emissions standards. View "CENTER FOR COMMUNITY ACTION, ET AL V. FAA, ET AL" on Justia Law
City of Ames v. Iowa Public Employment Relations Bd.
The Supreme Court held that the Iowa Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) and the district court misinterpreted Iowa Code 20.32 by extending broader bargaining rights to nontransit employees in the same bargaining unit as public transit employees, holding that the plain meaning of the statute protects only transit employees, not nontransit employees in the same bargaining unit.The City of Ames sought guidance as to whether section 20.32 requires broader bargaining rights for nontransit employees in the same bargaining unit. PERB concluded that broader bargaining rights must be extended under the statute to nontransit employees in a bargaining unit consisting of at least thirty percent transit employees, and the district court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the City was not required to provide broader bargaining rights to nontransit employees, regardless of the percentage of transit employees in the bargaining unit. View "City of Ames v. Iowa Public Employment Relations Bd." on Justia Law