SBTC Seeks EMERGENCY Order to Suspend H.O.S. and Arrest Protesters Violating Federal Law
Washington D.C. – The Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) is seeking an emergency order to require U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Elaine Chao to take immediate action to suspend Hours of Service (HOS) regulations for all truckers and enforce federal law to prevent any further protests on the nation’s interstate and highway system.
Last week, the SBTC filed an amended complaint to its lawsuit first filed in U.S. District Court in April of this year alleging the USDOT is not enforcing numerous federal laws including the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951, by allowing protests to be staged on interstates and highways.
The Hobbs Act makes it a crime punishable by up to 20 years in jail to obstruct, delay or affect commerce by robbery or extortion or threaten physical violence to any person engaged in interstate commerce.
Specifically, the 15,000-member group alleges Sec. Chao and the USDOT Office of Inspector General is failing to “enforce the Hobbs Act to protect commercial motor vehicle drivers.”
On Wednesday, the SBTC filed an emergency motion called a Writ of Mandamus asking the Court to order Sec. Chao to enforce the Hobbs Act by investigating, arresting and prosecuting those who “harass, attack and injure commercial motor vehicle drivers.”
“Protestors have violated and continue to violate the Hobbs Act by disrupting the flow of traffic and by engaging of acts of violence, including interrupting the flow of commercial motor vehicles that are legally transporting goods throughout the United States on interstate highways,” the court documents say.
In addition to pursuing legal remedies against those in violation of the Hobbs Act, the SBTC is also asking the Court to compel Sec. Chao to immediately suspend HOS regulations.
“As a result of the disruption of the flow of traffic, including the flow of commercial motor vehicle traffic, many truck drivers, including members of the SBTC, have been forced to violate existing HOS regulations because they cannot safely move their commercial motor vehicles through the protests within the 11 hour maximum drive hours window,” the SBTC contends.
Additionally, the SBTC argues that the health and well-being of many truckers is at stake.
“During many of the unannounced protests, protestors have purposefully and intentionally physically attacked and killed truck drivers, including members of the SBTC, who are lawfully operating their commercial motor vehicles at or near protests around the country, thus impairing their ability to operate the vehicles safely and having a deleterious effect on the physical condition of the drivers.”
Further, the SBTC is urging the Court to take swift action because its requests are “urgently needed.”
Court documents also reveal the SBTC is greatly concerned about a planned protest in Chicago on August 15.
Protest organizers are calling for 25,000 protesters to shut down the Dan Ryan Expressway.
Transportation Nation Network (TNN) first broke this story last week and has been in close contact with the Illinois State Police (ISP).
Click HERE to find out what actions ISP is planning to take.
The SBTC is requesting the Court order Sec. Chao to move to prevent this planned shut down.
According to court documents, the USDOT has been given until August 11, 2020 to respond to the SBTC’s amended complaint and the Writ of Mandamus.
Acting Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Jim Mullen, was asked about the SBTC’s emergency filing during Wednesday’s virtual Truck Safety Summit.
However, in keeping with Agency policy, Mullen chose not to comment on the litigation.
TNN will continue to track new developments.