A Preview Of The Issues In The L.A. Ports Trucking Case

Next Monday, April 27, 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder will rule on the American Trucking Association's ("ATA") request for a preliminary injunction in ATA's lawsuit against the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.  I'm writing to sketch out the issues that will be on the table. 

A brief note on context:  ATA filed suit last summer, seeking to have the Ports' trucking concession plans thrown out.  The concession plans put limits on which trucks can enter the Ports; in return, trucking companies that sign concession agreements are eligible for incentive payments and big subsidies to put new, clean trucks on the road.  ATA moved for a preliminary injunction to put the concession plans on ice until the case is tried on the merits.  Judge Snyder denied ATA's motion, but the federal appeals court reversed and sent the case back to Judge Snyder's court.  I've blogged about these events here, here and here.  

ATA has now renewed its request that both Ports' trucking concession plans be stopped until the case is tried, likely in December, 2009.  ATA has also picked apart the concession plans and challenged their provisions one by one. 

Judge Snyder has several options on Monday.  She can deny ATA's motion on the basis that ATA has not shown irreparable injury and that the balance of hardships and the public interest favors the Ports.  She can grant ATA's motion in its entirety and enjoin all of both Ports' concession plans.  She can enjoin one plan entirely and enjoin pieces of the other.  Or she can enjoin pieces of each plan.  Any injunction she issues Monday will only be good until the case is tried. 

Some people have asked about the effect of U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon's recent decision denying a request by the Federal Maritime Commission to enjoin the Ports' concession plans.  In a narrow, legalistic sense, the cases are different because the FMC's case is brought under a different federal law than the ATA case.  But what is common to both cases is a finding that the plaintiff failed to show that a hypothetical economic injury outweighed the public interest in breathing clean air.  Those same issues will be in the balance on Monday. 

There is a lot going on next Monday, and a lot at stake.  I'll post again as soon as we have a ruling from Judge Snyder.