Fleet Management

Appeals Court Rejects Broker Suit Against CSA

June 19, 2014

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A group of small carriers and brokers lost their legal challenge of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s CSA safety enforcement program.

In a ruling handed down Wednesday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed the suit by the Alliance for Safe, Efficient and Competitive Truck Transportation.

The group charged that the agency’s PowerPoint presentation on CSA was in effect “an astonishing” change in policy, said Chief Judge Merrick Garland.

“We are not astonished,” Garland wrote in the court’s opinion. “In our view – and the agency’s – the PowerPoint presentations do nothing more than explain the (CSA) Safety Measurement System.”

Moreover, the judge continued, the challenge lacks standing because it came too late after the agency implemented SMS.

At issue was ASECTT’s contention that the agency is administering CSA in a way that “(deputizes) the shipper and broker community with the responsibility of making self-enforced safety fitness determinations under penalty of vicarious liability,” said ASECTT President Tom Sanderson when the suit was filed.

Among other problems, the PowerPoint presentation amounted to a change in agency policy because it promulgated SMS as a safety fitness determination, the group charged.

But this contention is contradicted by the agency’s disclaimer that SMS is not intended to imply a safety rating, Garland wrote.

“We therefore see no basis for the petitioners’ claim that FMCSA used the PowerPoint presentations to effectively promulgate SMS as a new safety fitness determination standard.”

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