X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:The plaintiff-appellant, VRC LLC, provides non-consent towing services from private property in Dallas, Texas. VRC sued the city of Dallas for declaratory relief and a permanent injunction preventing enforcement of a city ordinance regulating such activities. The challenged ordinance, Dallas City Code Chapter 48A, section 48A-36, requires that signs warning of the threat of towing be posted on private property when, and for twenty-four hours before, a vehicle is towed without the vehicle owner’s consent. The ordinance contains specific requirements regarding the content and placement of the signs. The ordinance is penal in nature and is punishable by a fine of $200-$500 subject to doubling or trebling for subsequent offenses. The parties agreed in the trial court that the city ordinance is preempted by this general rule, as applied without the safety regulation exception found in subsection (c)(2)(A). The district court found that �48A-36 was sufficiently safety-related and filed findings of fact and conclusions of law in favor of the city of Dallas. On appeal, the city seeks to raise an issue about whether the city ordinance relates to a “service of any motor carrier,” such that the general preemption rule applies. The parties continue to dispute whether the safety regulation exception in subsection (c)(2)(A) applies to exempt the ordinance from preemption under the general rule. HOLDING:Affirmed. VRC argues that � 48A-36 is preempted by federal law, the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995, specifically 49 U.S.C. � 14501(c). VRC further argues that the ordinance is not exempted from preemption by subsection (c)(2)(A) of that statute. Nothing in the amended pretrial order indicated that this issue was in dispute in the trial court, and the district court’s findings of fact specifically state that “[t]he parties have not disputed that tow trucks are motor carriers or the Dallas City Code Chapter 48A Section 36 relates to the services provided by motor carriers. Therefore, the Ordinance is preempted by 49 U.S.C. �14501 unless it falls within the safety-related exception.” Because the city failed to bring this issue up before the trial court, the court finds that the city has waived this argument. The court addresses whether the safety exception in 49 U.S.C. �14501(c)(2)(A) applies to exempt the ordinance from federal preemption. The city begins its argument around a U.S. Supreme Court case which held that states can delegate their safety regulatory authority with respect to motor vehicles to their cities or other political subdivisions. City of Columbus v. Ours Garage & Wrecker Serv., 536 U.S. 424 (2002). Case law both predating and applying the principles discussed in Ours Garage has on the whole given a broad construction to the safety regulation exception. Even the appellant, VRC, implicitly concedes this by essentially arguing for a change in the law. The court notes that several other courts have also upheld similar ordinances against preemption challenges, finding that the state’s or municipality’s requirements fell within the safety regulation exception. “We recognize that VRC may have a point that municipalities are accomplishing some economic regulation, or more precisely consumer protection, while making findings about safety in the preambles of their ordinances. We note, however, that safety and consumer protection are not mutually exclusive categories. And, more importantly, we reiterate that in this case the city’s safety concerns are real enough that the court is convinced that they are both reasonably related and genuinely responsive to safety concerns. Accordingly, we need not inquire further.” OPINION:Dennis, J.; King, Barksdale and Dennis, J.J.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.