SOURCE: Sands Lerner

Sands Lerner

October 15, 2009 12:26 ET

Los Angeles Judge Issues Written Opinion Stopping California Attorney General Jerry Brown's Efforts to Regulate the Business of Port Truckers

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - October 15, 2009) - In a landmark written opinion, and potentially devastating blow to the ongoing efforts of California's Attorney General Jerry Brown to investigate and regulate the business of port trucking, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White held today that the California attorney general had essentially exceeded his authority by intruding into the federally preempted business of port trucking. Judge White's written opinion held that a federal law which protects motor carriers from state regulation, the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act or "FAAAA," preempts per se claims brought by the attorney general against motor carriers under California's Unfair Competition Law ("UCL") because such claims impermissibly relate to a motor carrier's prices, routes and services.

The attorney general attempted to use the UCL to stop port truckers from using independent contractor drivers to dray containers in California's ports, and to strong-arm them into choosing between using employee drivers or going out of business. Evidence in the case revealed that persons linked to the Teamsters contributed to the attorney general's investigation of the trucking industry in the port. Judge White held that such efforts by the attorney general threatened to have a direct and significant effect on the port trucker's prices, routes and services, which was violative of federal law. Judge White also held that the action of the attorney general, even if remote as to a port trucker's prices, routes and services, was nevertheless preempted "because its acute economic effects threaten to interfere with the forces of competition and to frustrate Congress' regulatory purposes by, in effect, creating entry controls regarding the use of independent contractor drivers."

The case, Los Angeles Superior Court case BC397600, was filed by the attorney general against Pac Anchor Transportation, Inc. and truck owner Alfredo Barajas on September 5, 2008, and was watched closely by the maritime and trucking industries. The written opinion of the court, dated October 13, 2009, stemmed from the court's ruling at oral argument on September 22, 2009.

For additional information, or a copy of the court's written opinion, contact Neil S. Lerner, Sands Lerner, attorney for the port trucker defendants, at 310-979-9144, nsl@sandslerner.com (www.transportationlaw.com) or Alfredo Barajas, Pac Anchor Transportation, Inc., 562-435-6464 ext. 237, abarajas@pacanchor.com (www.pacanchor.com). Opinion of Court attached.

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