The port, a division of the City of Los Angeles, is run by a Board of Harbor Commissioners. The port leases marine terminal facilities to operators that load cargo onto and unload it from docking ships.
Federally licensed short-haul trucks, called "drayage trucks," assist in those operations by moving cargo into and out of the port.
In 2007, the board implemented a Clean Truck Program. As part of that program, the board devised a standard-form "concession agreement" to govern the relationship between the port and drayage companies.
The agreement requires a company to affix a placard on each truck with a phone number for reporting concerns, and to submit a plan listing off-street parking locations for each truck. Other requirements relate to a company's financial capacity, its maintenance of trucks and its employment of drivers.
The concession agreement sets out penalties for violations, including possible suspension or revocation of the right to provide drayage services.
American Trucking Associations Inc. sued, seeking an injunction against the concession agreement's requirements. The association principally contended the requirements are expressly pre-empted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994, or FAAAA. The act says a state "may not enact or enforce a law, regulation or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route or service of any motor carrier."
A federal judge and a federal appeals court ruled for the port.
But the Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Justice Elena Kagan, reversed.
The opinion said the FAAAA "expressly pre-empts the concession agreement's placard and parking requirements."
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