Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Transportation Law

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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's denial of the City's motion for summary judgment in an action challenging the City's rules banning advertisements in for-hire vehicles (FHVs) absent authorization from the Taxi and Limousine Commission. The district court concluded that the City's rules banning advertisements in for‐hire passenger vehicles, such as Ubers and Lyfts, violate the First Amendment, primarily because the City permits certain advertising in taxicabs. The court held that the City's prohibition on advertising in FHVs did not violate the First Amendment under the Central Hudson test. In this case, the City's asserted interest in improving the overall passenger experience is substantial, the prohibition "directly advances" that interest, and the prohibition was no more extensive than necessary to serve that interest. The court held that the City's determination that banning ads altogether is the most effective approach was reasonable. View "Vugo, Inc. v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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The town appealed the district court's grant of a permanent injunction barring it from enforcing an ordinance regulating hazardous substances and certain zoning bylaws against Vermont Railway in connection with the railway's road salt transloading facility. The Second Circuit affirmed and held that the ordinance did not meet the "police powers" exception to preemption by the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act (ICCTA), because the ordinance imposed on rail activity restrictions that did not meaningfully protect public health and safety. Therefore, the ordinance was preempted by the ICCTA. The court held that, to the extent the town challenged the district court's ruling that the railway's activities did not constitute "transportation by rail carrier," the challenge was dismissed based on lack of jurisdiction. View "Vermont Railway, Inc. v. Town of Shelburne" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit granted consolidated petitions for review of a final rule published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indefinitely delaying a previously published rule increasing civil penalties for noncompliance with Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards. The court held that the agency lacked statutory authority to indefinitely delay the effective date of the rule. Furthermore, the agency, in promulgating the rule, failed to comply with the requirements of notice and comment rulemaking pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act. Accordingly, the court vacated the rule. View "Natural Resources Defense Council v. National Highway Traffic Safety Admin." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a claim alleging that the New York State Thruway Authority violated the Dormant Commerce Clause when it used surplus revenue from highway tolls to fund the State of New York's canal system. The court held that Congress evinced an "unmistakably clear" intent to authorize the Thruway Authority to depart from the strictures of the Dormant Commerce Clause by allocating surplus highway toll revenues to New York's Canal System. The court explained that Congress placed no limits on the amount of such surplus highway toll revenue that the Thruway Authority could allocate to the Canal System. Finally, the court held that the district court had discretion to reach the merits of the Thruway Authority's defense that Congress had authorized it to devote surplus highway toll revenues to the Canal System. View "American Trucking Ass'ns, Inc. v. N.Y. State Thruway Authority" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit claiming that American Airlines violated its obligation under the McCaskill‐Bond amendment to the Federal Aviation Act, 49 U.S.C. 42112 note, to provide for the integration of the American Airlines and U.S. Airways seniority lists “in a fair and equitable manner.” Plaintiffs also claimed principally that the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (“APFA”), the labor union representing American Airlines flight attendants, violated its duty of fair representation under the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. 151‐165, by failing to represent the former TWA flight attendants adequately during the creation of the integrated seniority list. The district court granted defendants' motions to dismiss. The court concluded that McCaskill‐Bond did not require American Airlines to reorder its own seniority list upon entering into a new merger in order to redress plaintiffs’ endtailing in 2001. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of plaintiffs’ claim against American Airlines under McCaskill‐Bond. The court also concluded that the union’s refusal to reorder the list, in accordance with its policy and the condition imposed by American Airlines, was not irrational or arbitrary; nor was the union’s decision to use the “length of service” rule to integrate the seniority lists unlawfully discriminatory in violation of the Railway Labor Act; and the amended complaint’s allegations do not raise an inference of “bad faith” on the part of APFA. The court considered plaintiffs' remaining arguments and concluded that they are without merit. The court affirmed the judgment. View "Flight Attendants in Reunion v. Am. Airlines, Inc." on Justia Law

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Beck filed suit against its franchisor, GM, for claims arising under the Motor Vehicle Dealer Act, N.Y. Vehicle & Traffic Law 460-473, and state contract law. The court certified the following questions to the New York Court of Appeals: (1) Is a performance standard that requires ʺaverageʺ performance based on statewide sales data in order for an automobile dealer to retain its dealership ʺunreasonable, arbitrary, or unfairʺ under New York Vehicle & Traffic Law section 463(2)(gg) because it does not account for local variations beyond adjusting for the local popularity of general vehicle types? and (2) Does a change to a franchiseeʹs Area of Primary Responsibility or AGSSA constitute a prohibited ʺmodificationʺ to the franchise under section 463(2)(ff), even though the standard terms of the Dealer Agreement reserve the franchisorʹs right to alter the Area of Primary Responsibility or AGSSA in its sole discretion?  Further, the court concluded that the district court did not err in dismissing plaintiffʹs vehicle allocation claim, denying plaintiffʹs request for attorneyʹs fees, or dismissing defendantʹs counterclaim for rescission. View "Beck Chevrolet v. General Motors" on Justia Law

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In 1953, New York and New Jersey entered into the Waterfront Commission Act, establishing the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor to govern operations at the Port of New York‐New Jersey. At that time, individual pieces of cargo were loaded onto trucks, driven to the pier, and then unloaded for loading, piece‐by‐piece, onto the vessel. Similarly, arriving cargo was handled piece-by-piece. Containerization transformed shipping: a shipper loads cargo into a large container, which is loaded onto a truck and transported to the pier, where it is lifted aboard a ship. Continental operates warehouses, including one at 112 Port Jersey Boulevard, Jersey City. Continental picks up containers from the Global Marine Terminal, transports them to the Warehouse, unloads them, and removes their contents. Continental stores the freight and provides other services, such as sampling, weighing. and wrapping. In 2011, the Commission advised Continental that it was required to obtain a stevedore license, concluding that the property line and building of the 112 Warehouse were within 1,000 yards of a pier. Continental sought a declaratory judgment. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court holding that Continental engages in stevedoring activities at the warehouse and that the warehouse is an ʺother waterfront terminalʺ under the Act and within the Commission’s jurisdiction. View "Cont'l Terminals, Inc. v. Waterfront Comm'n of N.Y. Harbor" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Sompo and Nipponkoa, subrogees of the cargo owners/shippers, filed suit against Defendants Norfolk Southern and KCSR to recover for the damages sustained to cargo by a train derailment. At issue in these appeals was the meaning and enforceability of provisions found in the bills of lading that purport to designate the ocean carrier as the sole entity responsible to the cargo owners for damage to the cargo. Further, Docket No. 13-3501 challenged Nipponkoa's ability to maintain its claim for contractual indemnification, a claim assigned to it by the upstream ocean carrier, against defendants. The court affirmed the judgment in Docket No. 13-3416 and concluded that summary judgment for defendants was proper where defendants are entitled to enforce the liability-limiting provision in the upstream carrier's bill of lading against plaintiffs. The court affirmed the judgment in Docket No. 13-3501 because defendants' arguments for reversal of Nipponkoa's judgment against them are all either waived or without merit.View "Sompo Japan Ins., Inc. v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a qui tam action against DHL under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729 et seq., alleging that DHL billed the United States jet-fuel surcharges on shipments that were transported exclusively by ground transportation. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's dismissal for failure to satisfy a statutory notice requirement. The court concluded that the 180-day rule, which barred a challenge to a shipping charge before the STB, could not apply to a qui tam action under the FCA. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded. View "United States v. DHL Express (USA), Inc." on Justia Law

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After plaintiff was involved in a verbal altercation with Defendant Leifer, Leifer used plaintiff's license plate number to obtain the name and home address of plaintiff. Leifer then embarked on a campaign to harass plaintiff and his family. Plaintiff filed suit under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. 2721-2725, against Leifer and the entities and individuals who obtained the information from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and released it to Leifer. The court held that Defendant Resellers were not strictly liable for Leifer's improper use of plaintiff's personal information because neither the text nor the legislative history of the Act supported a reading of a strict liability standard into the Act; while Defendant Softech disclosed plaintiff's personal information for a permitted use, a material question of fact existed as to the propriety of the disclosure; the Act imposed a duty on resellers to exercise reasonable care in responding to requests for personal information drawn from motor vehicle records; nothing in the record suggested that, in complying with the information request, Softech acted unreasonably; and a reasonable jury could find that Arcanum failed to exercise reasonable care when it disclosed plaintiff's personal information to Leifer. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court to the extent it granted summary judgment in favor of Softech and Rodriquez, vacated the judgment to the extent it granted summary judgment in favor of Arcanum and Cohn on plaintiff's claims under the Act, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Gordon v. Softech Int'l, Inc." on Justia Law