Justia Government Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Transportation Law
Mason & Dixon Lines Inc. v. Steudle
Access to the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario necessitated traversing city streets. The state contracted with the Company, which owns the Bridge, to construct new approaches from interstate roads. The contract specified separate jobs for the state and the Company. In 2010, the state obtained a state court order, finding the Company in breach of contract and requiring specific performance. The Company sought an order to open ramps constructed by the state, asserting that this was necessary to complete its work. The court denied the motion and held Company officials in contempt. In a 2012 settlement, the court ordered the Company to relinquish its responsibilities to the state and establish a $16 million fund to ensure completion. Plaintiffs, trucking companies that use the bridge, sought an injunction requiring the state to immediately open the ramps. The district court dismissed claims under the dormant Commerce Clause, the motor carriers statute, 49 U.S.C. 14501(c), and the Surface Transportation Assistance Act, 49 U.S.C. 31114(a)(2). The Sixth Circuit affirmed. For purposes of the Commerce Clause and statutory claims, the state is acting in a proprietary capacity and, like the private company, is a market participant when it joins the bridge company in constructing ramps. View "Mason & Dixon Lines Inc. v. Steudle" on Justia Law
Downing v. Globe Direct LLC
The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles sought proposals from contractors to print and send registration renewal notices along with advertisements to raise revenue to defray costs. RMV would provide the contractor with information (name, address, date of birth, and license number) that was generally exempt from public disclosure under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. 2721-25, and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 4, sect. 7, cl. 26(n), that the contractor would need to safeguard from unlawful public disclosure. Defendant's winning bid indicated that it understood and accepted the terms. The contract specified that Massachusetts would continue to exercise ownership over all personal data, and that a violation of the DPPA or the Massachusetts privacy law would cause the contract to terminate. Plaintiff, who received a registration renewal notice that included advertisements, filed a putative class action on behalf of himself and other drivers who, without providing consent, had received advertisements from defendant. The district court granted defendant judgment on the pleadings based on failure to join the Commonwealth as an indispensable party. The First Circuit affirmed, finding no violation of the DPPA. Defendant does not disclose the information it legitimately receives, as the state's contractor, to others. View "Downing v. Globe Direct LLC" on Justia Law
Nat’l Air Traffic Controllers Ass’n v. Sec’y of the Dep’t. of Transp.
In 1993, the FAA decided to privatize all Level I air traffic control towers. About 1500 controllers were forced to leave the field, be trained to operate higher level towers, or secure employment with the private contractors. Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76 prohibits the federal government from performing an activity that could be performed for less cost by the private sector. Before privatizing a function, an agency must determine whether that function is inherently governmental or commercial. A governmental function must be performed by government employees. The district court first dismissed, but, on remand, instructed the FAA to undergo Circular A-76 analysis. The FAA continued to privatize towers and controllers again brought suit. The district court again remanded to the FAA for analysis, but refused to terminate private contracts already in place. The court later granted the FAA partial summary judgment, based on a 2003 amendment to 49 U.S.C. 47124, indicating that work in Level I towers is not an inherently governmental function, then dismissed remaining claims for lack of standing. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Every tower privatized in the 1993 program fit within the section 47124(b)(3) mandate. View "Nat'l Air Traffic Controllers Ass'n v. Sec'y of the Dep't. of Transp." on Justia Law
State v. BNSF Railway Co.
The State brought a complaint against BNSF Railway Co. ("BNSF") in November 2009 seeking a declaratory judgment requiring BNSF to abide by the terms of a 1984 agreement between them and a declaration that BNSF was in violation of that agreement; specific performance by BNSF of the agreement, and damages for BNSF's alleged breach of the agreement. The State subsequently filed an application for a preliminary injunction in June 2010 to prohibit BNSF from terminating the payment to the State and its short line operator per loaded car for each car handled in interchanges as required by Section 9 of the agreement. At issue was whether the district court's order granting the preliminary injunction was an abuse of discretion. The court held that the district court manifestly abused its discretion in issuing the preliminary injunction where it went beyond the State's requested relief and effectively ordered specific performance on the agreement under new terms substantially different than the prior agreed upon terms which severely limited termination of the new interchange agreement and was never part of the 1984 or 1986 agreements. Accordingly, the court reversed the order and resolved the injunction, remanding for further proceedings.