Justia Transportation Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Lebamoff Enter., Inc. v. Huskey
The owner of retail liquor stores and two consumers challenged the constitutionality of an Indiana state law that prohibits shipment of wine to customers by motor carriers, such as UPS, Ind. Code. 7.1-3-15-3(d). The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's rejection of the challenges. The law may prevent the store from enlarging its sales area to encompass parts of Indiana remote from Fort Wayne; that is an effect on intrastate commerce, not interstate commerce. Plaintiffs did not establish even an incidental effect on interstate commerce The court also noted that the law is "within the Twenty-First Amendment's gravitational field," which includes matters relating to transportation of liquor.View "Lebamoff Enter., Inc. v. Huskey" on Justia Law
Comm. of Concerned Midwest Flight Attendants v. Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters Airline Di.
The McCaskill–Bond Amendment to the Federal Aviation Act, 49 U.S.C. 42112, provides that "combination of multiple air carriers into a single air carrier" requires the combined business to merge seniority lists of employees. Republic acquired Midwest. Seniority lists for mechanics, baggage handlers, and administrative personnel have been integrated, but Republic furloughed flight attendants, requiring them to apply for "new" jobs; if they are rehired, the Teamsters Union, which represents flight attendants at Republic's older carriers, places them at the bottom of its seniority roster. The Union maintained its position, even after the National Mediation Board concluded that the flight attendants who worked for Midwest became part of a single bargaining unit at an integrated air transportation business. The district court held that Republic's abandonment of Midwest's federal air transportation certificate, and the return of its planes, meant that Republic had acquired some assets but not an "air carrier" and entered judgment in favor of the Teamsters. The Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded, reasoning that Midwest was completely integrated into Republic. View "Comm. of Concerned Midwest Flight Attendants v. Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters Airline Di." on Justia Law
Dakota, MN & E. R.R. v. WI & S. R.R.
Plaintiff, a freight railroad, owned a spur line connecting to a plastics plant, the only shipper located on the spur. Defendant, another railroad, bought the lines, including the spur. The sales contract allowed plaintiff to continue to run trains on the lines being sold and granted plaintiff an exclusive easement to use the spur to serve the plant. Several years later, the plant entered receivership. The receiver sold all assets, including the plant. The buyer continues to manufacture plastics in the plant. Contending that the change in ownership voided the exclusive easement, defendant contracted with the buyer to ship products over the spur, leaving plaintiff with diminished use of the spur. The district court ruled in favor of defendant, reasoning that the contract referred specifically to the plastics company in business at that time. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, based on the language of the contract in light of extrinsic evidence, and rejected a trespass claim. View "Dakota, MN & E. R.R. v. WI & S. R.R." on Justia Law
Owner-Operator Indep. Drivers Ass’n v. Fed. Motor Carrier Safety Admin.
Federal regulators limit the number of hours during which commercial truck drivers may operate their vehicles in a given day and over the course of a week, 49 C.F.R. 395.8(b) (2010). The traditional paper system for recording time is subject to manipulation and falsification. When the FMCSA considered requiring truckers to use electronic on-board records (EOBRs) instead of logbooks for documenting their records of duty status, it acknowledged that Congress contemplated rules mandating electronic monitoring, but also required the agency to ensure that any such device is not used to "harass vehicle operators." The 2010 final rule applied to motor carriers "that have demonstrated serious The Seventh Circuit held that the rule is invalid because the agency failed to consider an issue that it was statutorily required to address. View "Owner-Operator Indep. Drivers Ass'n v. Fed. Motor Carrier Safety Admin." on Justia Law
Kansas City S. Ry. v. Koeller
The Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act prevents states and their subdivisions from imposing discriminatory taxes against railroads. 49 U.S.C. 11501. In 2008, the drainage district, a subdivision of Illinois, changed its method for calculating assessments. All other owners are assessed on a per-acre formula, but railroad, pipeline, and utility land were to be assessed on the basis of "benefit," apparently based on the difference in value between land within the district and land outside the levees; annual crop rentals being paid; and agricultural production of lands within the district. Two rail carriers brought suit under a section of the Act, which prevents imposition of "another tax that discriminates against a rail carrier." The district court held that the assessment was prohibited by the Act, but concluded that it was powerless to enjoin the tax. The Seventh Circuit reversed, holding that the court has authority to enjoin the tax, but, under principles of comity, should eliminate only the discriminatory aspects, not the entire scheme. The assessment is a tax that, raises general revenues; its ultimate use is for the whole district. It imposes a proportionately heavier tax on railroading than other activities. View "Kansas City S. Ry. v. Koeller" on Justia Law
Union Pacific R.R. Co. v. Chicago Transit Auth.
The railroad owns a 2.8-mile right-of-way that it has leased to the Chicago Transit Authority for almost 50 years. When the lease became too costly, the CTA sought to condemn a perpetual easement. The district court enjoined the condemnation as preempted by the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act, 49 U.S.C. 10501(b). The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The railroad and its right-of-way fall under the Act; the proposed state condemnation would be a regulation of railroad transportation preempted by the Act. The court employed an "as applied" analysis and concluded that the condemnation would prevent or unreasonably interfere with rail transportation by changing the relationship between the parties. Under the proposed easement, the CTA's rights would not be subject to termination for any reason. The railroad would lose property rights to reclaim the property if the CTA ceases passenger transportation operations on the Right of Way or violates any term of the lease and to oust the CTA from the Right of Way if the CTA fails to meet its lease obligations. View "Union Pacific R.R. Co. v. Chicago Transit Auth." on Justia Law
Senne v. Village of Palatine, IL
Plaintiff found a $20 parking citation on his windshield and initiated a class action, claiming that the inclusion of personal information, such as his driver's license number, address, and weight, violated the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. 2721, which generally makes it unlawful to disclose personal information contained in a motor vehicle record. The district court dismissed and the Seventh Circuit affirmed. While the citation did amount to a "disclosure," the Act includes an exception for service of process. View "Senne v. Village of Palatine, IL" on Justia Law
Senne v. Village of Palatine, IL
Plaintiff found a $20 parking citation on his windshield and initiated a class action, claiming that the inclusion of personal information, such as his driver's license number, address, and weight, violated the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. 2721, which generally makes it unlawful to disclose personal information contained in a motor vehicle record. The district court dismissed and the Seventh Circuit affirmed. While the citation did amount to a "disclosure," the Act includes an exception for service of process.
Clarendon Nat’l Ins. v. Medina
A semi-truck jackknifed while making a delivery for a federally licensed carrier and struck a vehicle, killing its driver. The estate brought a wrongful death action in Illinois state court against the driver, his wife (titular owner of the truck), and the company. The suit settled with entry of a $2 million consent judgment against the company, the driver, and his wife. The estate agreed that payment by the company's carrier of the $1 million policy limit would satisfy part of the judgment; the remainder would come from the driver's policy for "Non-trucking/bobtail liability" that covers driving cabs without trailers outside the service of the federally licensed carriers under whose authority drivers operate. That carrier declined coverage, citing a policy exclusion for vehicles "while in the business of anyone to whom ... rented," and obtained summary judgment in federal district court. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, citing 49 C.F.R. 376.2(d)(2), which defines "owner" as including someone like the driver, "who, without title, has the right to exclusive use of equipment" and reasoned that the driver, as agent for his wife, leased the truck to the company, even though the company was unaware that the wife held title. View "Clarendon Nat'l Ins. v. Medina" on Justia Law
Johnson v. Bayfield County
Plaintiffs' predecessors bought their Wisconsin land from the federal government in 1882-1884 and the railroad obtained an easement to cross the land by condemnation. The railroad abandoned the easement in 1980 by obtaining ICC permission and removing tracks. More than 20 years later, the county, wanting to construct a snowmobile trail, claimed that the land reverted to county ownership by virtue of a law enacted in 1852. The district court ruled in favor of the county. The Seventh Circuit reversed, first rejecting the county's claim that only the federal government had standing to challenge non-compliance with conditions of the 1852 law. When an easement is abandoned, rights ordinarily revert to the fee owner and, under the applicable laws, plaintiffs acquired any right-of-way a year and a day after the abandonment. The county was aware of the abandonment and considered buying the easement from the railroad at that time, but "waited a quarter of a century and then claimed a right to obtain the right of way for nothing." View "Johnson v. Bayfield County" on Justia Law