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American Trucking Associations v. Whitman

March 22, 2001

AMERICAN TRUCKING ASSOCIATIONS, INC. AND US XPRESS, INC., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY; JAMES WEINSTEIN, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS THE COMMISSIONER OF THE NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION; COL. CARSON DUNBAR, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE; AND JOHN J. FARMER, JR., IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cooper, District Judge

FOR PUBLICATION

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter presents motions for partial summary judgment by both parties. We will deny the motions and develop a full evidentiary record before ruling further on the merits.

BACKGROUND

On or about July 16, 1999, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (the "Department") enacted "emergency regulations," which applied to certain commercial vehicles categorized as double-trailer truck combinations and 102-inch wide standard truck semi-trailers ("Restricted Vehicles"). Those regulations addressed the use of certain roads by Restricted Vehicles while traveling in the State of New Jersey (the "State"). (See Certification of Andrea B. Schwartz filed 10-16-00) ("Schwartz Certif.") Ex. A: Emergency Adoptions.) The emergency regulations were adopted as final regulations (the "Regulations") on August 2, 1999. *fn1 (Pl. Br. in Supp. of Mot. for Partial Summ. J. ("Pl. Br.") at 9; Schwartz Certif. Ex. D: Final Regulations.) Under the Regulations, Restricted Vehicles traveling through the State with neither an origin nor a destination in the State, must stay on "National Network" roads and may deviate onto other roads only to access terminals and for limited distances to get food, fuel, repairs, and rest. *fn2 N.J.A.C. 16:32-1.6. Restricted Vehicles with origins or destinations in the State are permitted to use local roads in addition to the National Network roads. Id. The stated purpose of the Regulations is to reduce the volume of large trucks on the non-National Network highways in order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of New Jersey residents. (Def. Br. in Supp. of Mot. for Partial Summ. J. ("Def. Br.") at 1, 6; Schwartz Certif. Ex. D: Final Regulations at 16:32-1.1.)

Plaintiffs, who allege that the Regulations are unconstitutional, are the American Trucking Associations, Inc. (the "ATA") and US Xpress, Inc. ("USX"). The ATA is a national trucking trade association representing more than 2,000 members including corporations, partnerships, and individual proprietorships. (Pl. Br. at 1.) The ATA, a non-profit District of Columbia corporation headquartered in Virginia, claims to be suing on behalf of its members. (Certif. of David Barefoot filed 10-16-00) ("Barefoot Certif.") ¶ 2.) USX, a Nevada corporation, is an interstate motor carrier based in Tennessee. (Certif. of Steven Cleary filed 10-16-00 ("Cleary Certif.") ¶ 2.) Both the ATA members and USX regularly engage in interstate commerce in New Jersey, often using Restricted Vehicles. (Pl. Br. at 2.)

Plaintiffs seek partial summary judgment directed to the first four counts of the Complaint respectively alleging that the regulations violate the Commerce Clause (Counts I and II), the Privileges and Immunities Clause (Count III), and the Equal Protection Clause (Count IV) of the United States Constitution. (Pl. Mot. for Partial Summ. J. filed 10-16-00.) Defendants oppose the motion and move for summary judgment on the same counts. (Def. Mot. for Partial Summ. J. filed 10- 16-00.)

DISCUSSION

I. Summary Judgment Standard

A motion for summary judgment is proper "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). When considering a motion for summary judgment, the evidence submitted must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Seitzinger v. Reading Hosp. & Med. Ctr., 165 F.3d 236, 238 (3d Cir. 1999) (citation omitted). The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.

Once the moving party has met its initial burden, the nonmoving party must establish that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Jersey Cent. Power & Light Co. v. Lacey Township, 772 F.2d 1103, 1109 (3d Cir. 1985). The nonmoving party may not rely on mere allegations; it must present actual evidence that creates a genuine issue of material fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986) (citing First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 290 (1968)); Schoch v. First Fid. Bancorp., 912 F.2d 654, 657 (3d Cir. 1990). Issues of fact are genuine only "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. Material facts are only those facts that might affect the outcome of the action under governing law. Id.; Boyd v. Ford Motor Co., 948 F.2d 283, 285 (6th Cir. 1991). When the resolution of issues depends entirely on the interpretation of the applicable law, summary judgment is appropriate. See DiBiase v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., 48 F.3d 719, 724 (3d Cir. 1995).

II. The Commerce Clause

The United States Constitution provides that "Congress shall have Power . . . to regulate Commerce . . . among the several States." U.S. Const. art. I § 8. The Commerce Clause has been construed to include an "implied limitation on the power of the States to interfere with or impose burdens on interstate commerce." W. & S. Life Ins. Co. v. State Bd. of Equalization of Cal., 451 U.S. 648, 652 (1981). This implied limitation, known as the negative or dormant Commerce Clause, "`prohibits economic protectionism - that is, regulatory measures designed to benefit in-state economic interests by burdening out-of- state economic competitors.'" Tolchin v. Supreme Court of N.J., 111 F.3d 1099, 1106 (3d Cir. 1997) (quoting New Energy Co. of Ind. v. Limbach, 486 U.S. 269, 273 (1988).

The first question a court must ask in performing a commerce clause analysis is whether the regulation at issue discriminates against interstate commerce. See Old Coach Dev. Corp. v. Tanzman, 881 F.2d 1227, 1231 (3d Cir. 1989). As articulated by the Third Circuit, "[d]iscrimination against interstate commerce entails imposing a burden on out-of-state vehicles or favoring those from in-state without a comparable favor for those from out-of-state." Larson, ...


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