Justia Transportation Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
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The City of Norwalk sued the City of Cerritos, alleging that Cerritos' ordinance limiting commercial and heavy truck traffic to certain major arteries caused extra truck traffic to be diverted through Norwalk, constituting a public nuisance. The City of Cerritos demurred, arguing that it was immune from liability as the ordinance was enacted under the express authority of the Vehicle Code sections 35701 and 21101. The trial court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend, and Norwalk appealed this decision. The Court of Appeal of the State of California, Second Appellate District, affirmed the trial court's decision. The appellate court held that the public nuisance alleged by Norwalk, namely, the diversion of heavy truck traffic and its adverse effects, necessarily and inescapably flowed from the enactment of the Cerritos ordinance, which was expressly authorized by the Vehicle Code. As such, Cerritos was immune from liability for public nuisance under Civil Code section 3482. In addition, the court found no merit in Norwalk's arguments that the ordinance was unreasonable and that Cerritos failed to obtain the state's permission to regulate certain streets. View "City of Norwalk v. City of Cerritos" on Justia Law

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The case revolves around a dispute between two cities, Norwalk and Cerritos, both located in California. In 1974, Cerritos enacted an ordinance restricting commercial and heavy truck traffic to certain major arteries within the city. The ordinance was amended in 2019 and 2020, resulting in the removal of one of these arteries. Consequently, Norwalk sued Cerritos, arguing that the ordinance created a public nuisance by diverting extra truck traffic through Norwalk and thus causing various "adverse effects" linked to heavier traffic flow. Cerritos claimed immunity under Civil Code section 3482, which shields a city from public nuisance liability for actions "done or maintained under the express authority of a statute". The Court of Appeal of the State of California Second Appellate District found that the Vehicle Code explicitly authorized cities to regulate the use of their streets by commercial or heavy vehicles. Therefore, the court held that Cerritos was immune from liability for the public nuisance of diverting traffic into Norwalk. The court stated that the immunity conferred by Civil Code section 3482 applied not only to the specific act expressly authorized by the statute, but also to the consequences that necessarily stemmed from that act. The court affirmed the judgment in favor of Cerritos. View "City of Norwalk v. City of Cerritos" on Justia Law

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In this case, the Supreme Court of Maryland held that the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) did not err in concluding that law enforcement had reasonable grounds to believe that Rahq Deika Montana Usan was driving a vehicle while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or both. The ALJ found substantial evidence to support this belief, including Usan's erratic driving, red and glassy eyes, slow and sluggish movement, and failure to perform three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) successfully. The court also affirmed the ALJ's finding that law enforcement, having reasonable suspicion of a driver impaired by alcohol, drugs, or both, may request testing pursuant to the Maryland Transportation Article § 16-205.1. The court further held that Usan violated the statute by refusing to submit to the requested testing. As a result, the Supreme Court of Maryland reversed the decision of the Circuit Court for Charles County, which had overturned the ALJ's decision to suspend Usan's driver's license. View "Motor Vehicle Admin. v. Usan" on Justia Law

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In a case brought before the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Bruce McWhorter, a mechanic, had his certification revoked by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after it was discovered that he had not replaced certain components of an aircraft's engine despite claiming to have performed a major overhaul. McWhorter appealed the decision to an administrative law judge who affirmed the FAA's decision. McWhorter then sought to appeal this decision to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), but failed to serve the FAA with his notice of appeal in a timely manner. The NTSB dismissed McWhorter's appeal on these grounds. McWhorter subsequently petitioned for a review of the NTSB’s dismissal, but did so 111 days after the NTSB issued its final order, exceeding the 60-day limit prescribed by law.The court clarified that the 60-day limit for seeking appellate review stipulated in 49 U.S.C. § 1153(b)(1) is not a jurisdictional requirement, but rather a claim-processing rule. This means that a petitioner’s failure to comply with this time limit does not affect the court’s jurisdiction to hear the appeal. However, the court found that McWhorter had not established reasonable grounds for the delay in filing his petition for review, as required by the same statute for petitions filed after the 60-day limit. The court determined that the primary blame for the delay was on McWhorter, not on any confusion created by the FAA or the NTSB. Therefore, the court denied McWhorter's petition as untimely. View "McWhorter v. FAA" on Justia Law

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In a collision involving a sedan owned by Murray State College and a semi truck and trailer owned by Frank Bartel Transportation (FBT), the college employee driving the sedan was killed and the FBT vehicle was destroyed. FBT submitted a claim under the Governmental Tort Claims Act (GTCA) to the State of Oklahoma Risk Management Department of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES), which offered to settle for $25,000. FBT refused the offer, arguing that it sustained additional consequential damages of $68,636.61 for towing, vehicle storage, and vehicle rental. In a case of first impression, the Supreme Court of the State of Oklahoma held that these consequential damages fell within the "any other loss" provision of Section 154(A)(2) of the GTCA, and thus FBT's recovery was subject to that statute's $125,000 cap. The court reversed the trial court's decision which found that FBT's damages were all for loss of property and subject to the Section 154(A)(1) cap of $25,000. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "FRANK BARTEL TRANSPORTATION v. STATE" on Justia Law

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In this case, the Town of Milton, Massachusetts, petitioned for a judicial review of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) final order authorizing a new flight procedure at Boston's Logan International Airport. The new procedure, aimed at increasing safety and efficiency, covers a narrower swath of airspace over the Town of Milton. The Town argued that the FAA's environmental analysis of the noise impacts failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). However, the United States Court of Appeals For the First Circuit dismissed the Town's petition, ruling that the Town does not have standing to challenge the FAA's final order. The court concluded that the harms the Town asserted, including the impact of noise on its residents and the time and money spent addressing these issues, were not legally cognizable harms to the Town itself. The court agreed with other courts of appeals that have dismissed municipal NEPA challenges to FAA orders for lack of Article III standing because those challenges failed to show cognizable injury to the municipalities themselves. View "Milton, MA v. FAA" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that in contested cases before the Nevada Transportation Authority (NTA), arguments not raised during the administrative proceedings are generally waived and that the NTA need not consider arguments raised for the first time at the general session.Appellant received two administrative citations for improperly staging its vehicles at its casino without a charter order, in violation of Appellant's certificate restriction and NAC 706.360. Appellant agreed to the fines, and a hearing officer recommended that the NTA accept Appellant's stipulations and enter the fines against Appellant. Appellant petitioned for judicial review, arguing that its certificate restriction was federally preempted. The district court concluded that the certificate was related to safety and thus not federally preempted. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant's conclusory assertion of preemption at the NTA general session was insufficient to establish that the NTA lacked subject matter jurisdiction to enforce Appellant's certification restriction; and (2) Appellant waived its preemption argument by entering into the stipulation. View "Highroller Transportation, LLC v. Nev. Transportation Authority" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the State Corporation Commission dismissing Verizon Virginia LLC's petition for a declaratory judgment for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that the Commission lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Verizon's petition pursuant to Va. Code 33.2-1815(B) and 33.2-1821.Verizon, a telecommunications company, filed a petition for a declaratory judgment with the Commission requesting a declaration that either Capital Beltway Express LLC (CBE) or The Lane Construction Corporation was responsible for costs pursuant to section 33.2-1815(B) to relocate some of Verizon's utility facilities, as required by the Virginia Department of Transportation in the underlying project to extend portions of the I-495 express lanes. The Commission dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction. Verizon appealed, arguing that sections 33.2-1815(B) and 33.2-1821 granted the Commission jurisdiction to resolve which party was responsible for the costs of the utility relocations necessitated by the project. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission correctly concluded that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Verizon's petition. View "Verizon Virginia LLC v. SCC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court interpreting Me. Rev. Stat. 29-A, 2413-A to permit a determination that Defendant had committed three civil violations and to authorize the trial court to impose consecutive license suspensions, holding that the trial court did not err.Defendant admitted to three counts of committing a motor vehicle violation resulting in death pursuant to section 2413-A(1). After a penalty hearing, the trial court imposed a $5,000 fine and a three-year license suspension for each of the counts, with the fines being cumulative and the suspensions to be imposed consecutively. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the penalties, holding (1) section 2413-A(1) authorizes separate violations for each death that occurs as a result of a driving violation and authorizes trial courts to impose consecutive license suspensions under their discretion; and (2) the trial court in this case did not abuse its discretion when it imposed the consecutive suspensions. View "State v. Santerre" on Justia Law

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The United States Maritime Administration (“MARAD”) approved a shipping company’s request to replace two vessels operating in the Pacific trade within the Maritime Security Program. Matson Navigation Co., a competitor in the Pacific, petitions for review of the replacements. As a source of jurisdiction, Matson points to the Hobbs Act, under which the DC Circuit had original jurisdiction over some acts of MARAD.   The DC Circuit reversed two orders of the district court, consolidated with these petitions, that held jurisdiction over Matson’s claims under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) and was exclusive in the court of appeals. The court wrote that Matson was not a “party” to the replacement proceedings for either vessel, therefore, the court denied the petitions for direct review. The court explained that whether a case begins in district court or is eligible for direct review in the court is a policy decision that is for “Congress rather than us to determine.” The court wrote that as Matson’s counsel stated at oral argument, the company is just “trying to get review.” Because sending limited comments based on limited information to an informal agency proceeding does not confer “party” status under the Hobbs Act, that review starts in the district court. View "Matson Navigation Company, Inc. v. DOT" on Justia Law