California’s Independent Truckers Score Win Against Controversial A.B. 5 Law
San Diego, CA – A federal judge has indefinitely blocked enforcement of a controversial new California law which critics say could put as many as 70,000 independent truckers out of business.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez issued a preliminary injunction effectively blocking the state from enforcing its Assembly Bill 5 law, known as A.B. 5, for motor carriers indefinitely.
The action was in response to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Southern California last November by the California Trucking Association (CTA) against California Attorney General Xavier Becerra challenging A.B. 5.
On December 31, 2019, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against enforcement of A.B. 5 relating to motor carriers.
CTA was once again back in court on Monday arguing for a preliminary injunction to be issued in order to shield the trucking industry from enforcement of the law until its lawsuit could heard in full.
CTA argues the 1994 Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA) blocks states from enacting such laws, and thus, allows interstate trucking companies an exemption from A.B. 5’s statutes.
Additionally, at issue is the legislation’s imposed “ABC test” to determine the status of an independent contractor.
The so-called “B prong,” classifies a worker as an “employee” of the company unless that worker “performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.”
The CTA and other critics argue enforcement of such a statute would all but eliminate the owner operator model in California.
In Judge Benitez’s new ruling granting a preliminary injunction, he writes:
FAAAA preemption is broad but not so broad that the sky is the limit: states retain the ability to execute their police power with laws that do not significantly impact rates, routes, or services.
Here, however, there is little question that the State of California has encroached on Congress’ territory by eliminating motor carriers’ choice to use independent contractor drivers, a choice at the very heart of interstate trucking.
In so doing, California disregards Congress’ intent to deregulate interstate trucking, instead adopting a law that produces the patchwork of state regulations Congress sought to prevent.
With A.B. 5, California runs off the road and into the preemption ditch of the FAAAA.
The CTA praised the decision.
In a statement, Shawn Yadon, CTA’s chief executive officer, said, “This ruling is a significant win for California’s more than 70,000 independent owner operators and CTA members who have worked as independent truckers for decades, and who have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to own their own vehicle and comply with California’s strict environmental guidelines and regulations over the years.”
According to legal experts advising Transportation Nation Network (TNN) on the matter, California will likely appeal Judge Benitez’s decision and ask the court to issue a stay of the preliminary injunction effectively allowing enforcement of the law while it is being challenged.
In order to win such an appeal, California officials would have to demonstrate the state will be irreparably injured if it cannot enforce A.B. 5 during the interim period.
Further, the state must also demonstrate its case has a strong likelihood of winning against the CTA.
Given the law and precedent already established in the case, TNN’s legal experts believe it is unlikely California will be able to win such an appeal.
TransportationNation.com will continue to follow the case.