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Decoding the Future of Representative Action Employment Claims Litigation, Arbitration and Preemption after Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana (U.S.S.C. Case No. 20-1573) (Viking River Cruises)

This article is intended as a strategy guide for in-house and outside general counsel but comments from the Plaintiffs bar are equally appreciated. It is intended to digest the Court’s thoughtful opinion into core decision points.

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A New (Acting) Head of the FMCSA and Parking

Some motor carrier Highlights posts are quite technical. Not this one.  This is a practical update about trucking: a change in acting leadership at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and a discussion about parking.

FMCSA Leadership Change

Head of the FMCSA Meera Joshi left the administration in January to take a role as New York City deputy mayor for operations in the Adams administration.  Joshi had been confirmed as deputy administrator and nominated to be the administrator of the agency, but left before she could be confirmed by the Senate to that position.  She had previously held several positions in New York City, including head of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.

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Eleventh Circuit Holds that the Oil Pollution Act Does Not Create a Right of Contribution Against United States by a Vessel Discharging Oil

Earlier this month, a Panel of the Eleventh Circuit considered two issues of first impression construing contribution and liability of a vessel owner under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (“OPA”)  33 U.S.C. §§ 2701 – 2720.  In Savage Services Corporation v. United States of America—F. 4th (11th Cir. 2022), the Court held that OPA did not create a cause of action for contribution for the cost of oil removal by a vessel operator against the United States.  Second, the Court determined that a vessel pushing a tank barge discharging oil into the navigable waters of the United States could not be shielded from all statutory liability for remedial costs by asserting that the federal government was solely negligent.  Finally, the Panel held that the comprehensive liability scheme within OPA both displaced and preempted a vessel owner’s claim against the United States arising under the Suits in Admiralty Act, 46 U.S.C. §§ 30901- 30918 (“SSA”).

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What A Difference Leadership Makes - A Practitioner’s Guide to The Impact of Activist Federal Agencies

This article will address the ongoing areas in which administrative leadership is moving substantive enforcement changes in core areas of labor law focusing on how Board procedures facilitate such changes. We will discuss shifts in the prosecution of cases by the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board in injunction cases and collaborative enforcement with other federal agencies as well as a number of substantive areas.

The significance of involvement of the NLRB in a classification analysis of independent contractor status is both complex and subtle.  In traditional civil labor law, states and courts as well as the United States Department of Labor have evolved tests that focus, within different degrees of emphasis on status. These range from a multi-factor test that evaluates the degree to which a worker operates as a self-sufficient business complying with state laws that regulate the work. This has been an approach common in the trucking and intermodal world, buttressed by state licensing and insurance requirements, particular for owner operators in the brokerage industry.

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Senate Approves Karen Hedlund to the Surface Transportation Board

Railway Age is reporting that the Senate voted to approve Karen Hedlund to succeed Board Member Ann Begeman. 

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The Board Rejects as Incomplete the “Significant” Application Filed by CSXT & Pan Am in Control and Merger Proceeding

On May 26, 2021, the Surface Transportation Board (Board) issued a decision rejecting as incomplete an application seeking approval for: (1) CSX Corporation (CSXC), CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSXT), and 747 Merger Sub 2, Inc. (747 Merger Sub 2) to control the railroads controlled by Pan Am Systems, Inc. (Systems) and Pan Am Railways, Inc. (PAR); and (2) CSXT to merge certain PAR subsidiaries into CSXT (the Proposed Transaction).  CSX Corp.—Control and Merger—Pan Am Systems, Inc., FD 36472 (STB served May 26, 2021). The Board also permitted the applicants to file a revised application.

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KCS Terminates CP Merger Agreement and Enters Into Merger Agreement with CN

Pending before the Surface Transportation Board (Board) are two potential merger proceedings involving Kansas City Southern – Docket No. FD 36500, regarding a potential merger with Canadian Pacific, and Docket No. FD 36514, regarding a potential merger with Canadian National.  A summary of these proceedings is provided below.

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What Will the FMCSA Prioritize in the Biden Administration?

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) historically has been less prone to large shifts in policy between presidential administrations. Although Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden each nominated a Secretary of Transportation from his own party, before that, Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush each nominated a member of the opposing party.  While President Biden has not yet put forward his nominee for Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency’s leadership and policies have historically followed this bipartisan approach. 

For example, when the Trump Administration took control of the FMCSA, the Obama-era rule requiring that driver hours of service be recorded by electronic logging device (ELD), rather than paper logbook, had not yet gone into effect. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) – a group that generally comprises many members of President Trump's base – had fought vigorously against the ELD rule. Despite years of effort to implement the ELD rule, it was uncertain if the FMCSA would postpone, chip away at the rule or even reverse course on ELDs. Nonetheless, the agency held firm and implemented the rule.

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CDC Issues Framework For Conditional Sailing Order For Cruise Ships

The once vibrant U.S. cruise industry has been sharply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.   On March 14, 2020, in response to the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued a No Sail Order effective for 30 days precluding cruise ship operations arriving or departing from U.S. ports.1  The CDC Director entered the No Sail Order to mitigate the threat of severe illness and death from COVID-19. The No Sail Order was renewed by the CDC on April 9, 2020, July 16, 2020, and September 30, 2020.2  Over the past eleven months, cruise ship operations were brought to a standstill.

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Grappling with Deregulation and Shared Facilities

Last summer, the long-running In re: Rail Freight Fuel Surcharge Antitrust Litigation 1 case took a detour through a rarely cited section of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980 (“Staggers”)2 that excludes certain communications and agreements between competing rail lines from evidence in antitrust cases. In response to the parties’ briefing on the scope of the statute, the Court requested the Department of Justice’s views on the statute. Though the DOJ’s guidance was specifically focused on the statute at issue, the advice it contained is relevant for competitors in any industry that have legitimate reasons in certain contexts to communicate with competitors or agree on prices with competitors, even as they otherwise compete on prices with them in the market. In the Rail Freight Fuel Surcharge litigation, the legitimate communications involve interline pricing between rail carriers shipping freight across multiple rail networks. In other industries, for example, it can involve a vertically-integrated company providing logistical or back-office services to a customer-facing competitor with which they compete for retail customers, or other dual distribution circumstances.

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2019 May - June Highlights: Motor Regulatory

Hours of Service Notice of Proposed Rulemaking May be Released Soon  

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